OVERVIEW

How might we refresh and strengthen company branding while improving the user's mobile experience?

Client

Steamboat Whiskey Company

Project Timeline

Project Type

May - August 2021

Desktop/Mobile Redesign

Steamboat Whiskey Company has experienced tremendous growth since it was established in 2017, but the effectiveness of the company’s website and brand story hadn’t been examined since the initial launch. A complete audit of the site was needed in addition to incorporating a new logo, imagery, and updated messaging.

Desktop view of Steamboat Whiskey Company's original homepage
Mobile view of Steamboat Whiskey Company's original homepage
 

MY ROLE

I took on a contract role as the researcher, strategist, designer, and project manager (aka I wore all the hats). Main areas of responsibility included:

- Management (sprint planning and weekly reviews)

- UX analysis (flows and persona)

- Design & Copywriting (website and branding)

- Lo-fi prototyping (basic flow and interactions)

- Front-end development (Wix Editor X)

Images of hats (captain hat, hard hat, stocking cap, crown, chef's hat, magician's hat) from the Noun Project
 

THE CHALLENGE

Faced with uncertain circumstances reducing in-person visits to the distillery and restaurant, company leadership sought to solve how they might increase buyer awareness of products and where to purchase them to keep sales strong despite frequent closures. Concise, easy-to-find information was needed on the website because personnel changes had resulted in a backlog of online contact forms, email, and customer phone calls. 

 

To better serve users (primarily in Colorado, but spread throughout the country), three main aims became priorities: 

  • Clarify/emphasize brand story to increase loyalty

  • Improve the mobile user experience

  • Reorganize website and eliminate redundancies/confusing phrasing

 
SWC-veterans.png

Brand Clarification

A major component of Steamboat Whiskey Company's story is that they are veteran-owned and focused on giving back to the community. This message wasn't clear or compelling to users, as it was repeated on two separate and vaguely-named pages.

THE PROCESS

The redesign project was broken into one-week sprints with weekly check-in calls. After conducting a competitive audit and understanding the business goals of the project, I approached my work using Design Thinking to Empathize, Define, Ideate, Prototype, Test, and Implement new designs. 

Design Thinking 101 diagram, courtesy of NNGroup.com

Empathize

Website analytics revealed that a large component of the site's users are female, located in Colorado, and between 35 and 54. Utilizing a similar profile for interview participants, I uncovered several pain points:

"The site is so dark, it's a turn-off."

"Things are inconsistent, that makes me trust them less."

"There's so much text, I don't want to read all that."

"These pictures keep moving when I don't want them to."

"What makes them special? I don't know exactly, I don't want to read it."

"Can I buy the alcohol online?"

"Why does it say shop if I can't buy their whiskey?"

Define

​Reviewing the research and discussing findings with stakeholders led to three main priorities:

  • Clarify/emphasize brand story to increase loyalty

  • Improve the mobile user experience

  • Reorganize website and eliminate redundancies/confusing phrasing

Concepts discussed but put in the parking lot for potential future upgrades included implementing direct sales of alcohol to consumers (requiring a plugin), online scheduling ability for tours, and online food ordering.

Ideate/Prototype

Time constraints led to the consolidation/truncation of these steps.

 

Special attention was paid to updating the site's theme, with a final iteration featuring a modern typeface, clean look and a color scheme intended to nod to the red, white, and blue of the U.S. flag in honor of the company's commitment to military veterans.

Navigation was also a big opportunity for clarity, and the final iteration has simplified categories with no sub-category dropdowns. The "Where to Buy" is a focal point to encourage local sales when the distillery is not open for in-person shopping.

Figma wireframes - home and menu
Final design - Home

Test/Implement

Time constraints led to the consolidation of these steps as well. Launch to learn!

 

Original site organization left the user wondering where to begin, with messaging taking up a large portion of the header, with small category labels and buried subcategories. Final designs placed an emphasis on telling the brand's story through the clear separation of Our Story, Our Team, and Giving Back (which consolidated the former "Warrior Whiskey" and "Donations" pages.

Giving-Back.png

RESULTS

 
 
 
 
 
 

Data

Data collection is still underway, as the site has been live for just about four months.

Items I will investigate:

· Bounce rate & time on page for renamed pages

· Bounce rate & time on page for Where to Buy page

Design System

A major accomplishment of the project is a design system and Wix templates which the company can use to make their own updates, announcements, and revisions. This will avoid the inconsistency that was problematic as the site grew.

Further Testing Opportunities

Further user testing would be ideal if time and budget would allow. I would love to dig into the Spirits page to see how users interact with specific data, imagery, and phrasing.

User Feedback

"Super quick and easy to find several retailers in Loveland where we can buy your products. Great work by Lindsay!"

- Jeff Fischer

User Feedback

"Super quick and easy to find several retailers in Loveland where we can buy your products. Great work by Lindsay!"

- Jeff Fischer

Client Feedback

"We really enjoyed working with Lindsay on our recent website redesign project. She made this normally arduous task so incredibly easy! She is very talented at taking large amounts of data and organizing it in a way that was quick and easy for us to review and give feedback, which kept the process moving forward efficiently. ... Lindsay is so easy to work with, she really helped us stay on track to launch our website by our target date. Furthermore, she contributed wonderful ideas about how to layout certain elements that we perhaps wouldn't have considered before."

- Jessica Newhall

User Feedback

"Looks great on mobile. Easy navigation, very functional layout and intuitive UX. Nicely done!"

- Ian Chang