Hey guys! This is the first in a series of design case studies I’ll be sharing with you.
Why am I doing this? Well, I often struggle with how much of my process I should share with you — and, more importantly, if you even want to learn about it.
But here’s the thing: this case study isn’t about me. This case study is about how Vitale Real Estate went from feeling embarrassed about their web presence to feeling excited and invigorated by their new branding and website.
So, if you find yourself in a similar boat, then this case study is a must-read. I’m going to show you how to finally get a website you’re proud of and that will work hard for you — while you do practically nothing (except answer some questions!).
Client Name: Vitale Real Estate
Goal: New website, branding, and marketing collateral
Timeline: 6 months
Many times when a client approaches me for help, it’s to create a new web presence for their business. But Vitale Real Estate was different.
Vice President and COO Brent Pasquantonio explains:
“Our brand was not cohesive, nothing flowed properly, and it was outdated. It was hard to get excited about posting anything on social media, sending the website to our customers, or creating any marketing material.”
He’s right. A business’s online presence is an extension of the company and should sound, look, and act like one of its employees. If it doesn’t give off the same vibe, communicate the same message, or appear as professional and well-put-together, that’s a huge problem.
Vitale’s old branding clearly wasn’t connecting with its target audience. No one ever reached out with questions, viable leads were non-existent, and they were embarrassed to drive traffic to their site… It was a disappointing situation, to say the least.
After talking to Brent about the troubles they were facing, we decided to start fresh. But it wasn’t going to be a simple fix.
First, we needed to create a new style for their brand, one that struck a balance between sophistication and accessibility. We wanted it to feel high-end, but relaxed all at once.
Next, we needed to fix the problem of lead generation. Their previous website wasn’t helpful in this respect, which put a lot of pressure on their team to try and get prospective buyers to sign up for property tours.
Last but not least, we needed time to develop all the new pieces:
We estimated it would take between four and six months to create a cohesive set of branded elements and to complete the project.
There are four phases in every design project we do here at Your Designer Ash.
But before we could hit the ground running, we needed to make sure we’re all on the same page.
Clients should never be kept in the dark. Not only should they have visibility into the project, but I want them to work closely with me throughout to make sure we’re dotting all the i’s and crossing all the t’s.
That’s why the onboarding and kickoff process is so crucial.
Vitale Real Estate received:
Collaboration is so incredibly important when designing anything for a business, and so this toolbox enables me to set my clients (and my team) up for success on Day 1.
This is the first official phase of a design project. This is when we get to know more about our client, their goals, their wishes, and start to lay down a baseline for the work ahead.
The Brand Questionnaire we send during onboarding is a critical piece that fills in a lot of the missing answers for us while providing guidance on which direction to go in. Because we were developing new branding as well as a website, the discovery phase was robust, to say the least.
Brent later told me:
“The questionnaire was extensive, but it definitely made sense when we saw all of it come to life.”
To be honest, that’s a common sentiment we hear as we ask our clients for a lot of information.
The Brand Questionnaire asked questions like:
The Content Planning Questionnaire asked for things like:
If you think about it, it makes sense why we do this. Without input from Vitale Real Estate, we would’ve ended up creating something super generic and as ineffective as their last set of branding.
We needed to approach this project from their point-of-view so we could build the branding, website, and marketing collateral they deserved.
This was a complex phase as we first needed to develop all new branding for Vitale Real Estate. Once that was completed, we worked on designing the website.
When developing branding for a company, we’re looking to do more than create a pretty logo. This is about fleshing out the company’s identity and translating it into a design that resonates with the target customer.
When I asked Brent about the personality of Vitale Real Estate, he gave this amazing response:
“Mix of Chip and Joanna Gaines and the Wahlbergs. Energetic, driven, curious.”
It’s this kind of personalized and specific detail that allows us to create branding that’s perfectly suited to our clients as well as their audience.
Branding deliverables included:
Here are some examples of the deliverables Vitale Real Estate received.
Final Brand Concept:
For clients that don’t have their own website copy, we take care of it for them at this stage.
Ideally, it’s best if clients start fresh with new copy. That way, our copywriter and designer are able to work together to create a cohesive website where the message and aesthetics perfectly align to tell the same story.
Content creation deliverables included:
Once we worked out the kinks in the Google Doc, the copy could then be seamlessly flowed into the website.
Web design is obviously the most complicated piece of this whole process.
We had to take all the information given to us by Vitale Real Estate, combine it with our research on the industry and competitive landscape, infuse the branding we’d just created into it, and then flex our creative muscles to create an impressive and lead-generating website.
It’s a lengthy process, to be sure, but there’s no way to build a successful website without putting serious time, resources, and elbow grease into it.
Internally, we work on mocking up the design — not just for the home page, but for the navigation menu (on desktop and mobile) as well as the other pages of the website.
Web design deliverables included:
In addition to receiving mockups of the website:
As well as the menu:
I provided the client with a virtual walk-through of the site:
This set of deliverables allowed the client to explore the new site from the point-of-view of a visitor while also being able to slow down and analyze each page one-by-one.
Once we received all feedback and, eventually, approval on the web design and copy, it was time to turn it into a working website.
We used Showit to build out the website.
Not only do we love this high-performance website builder for how powerful it is, but we love how client-friendly it is, too. We knew that by developing the Vitale Real Estate website with Showit that the client would have no problem updating their real estate listings, adding new content, and managing other website maintenance tasks long after launch.
Web development deliverables included:
Although we’ve been developing websites for years, we couldn’t just launch the completed website as is. We needed to do our due diligence and make sure it was 100% ready for prospective buyers and interested leads to interact with it.
During the testing and launch phase, we put the Vitale Real Estate website through the wringer.
The quality assurance phase included:
Only once we were happy with the state of the site did we send it to the client for one final pass. With their seal of approval, we scheduled https://vitalerealestate.com for launch.
After months of working on the revitalized branding and website for Vitale Real Estate, they finally had something they were excited to share with prospective buyers.
The real estate company’s new look struck the perfect balance between sophistication and warmth, giving house-hunters a welcoming to turn to. And we’re so glad Brent and his team at Vitale Real Estate were pleased with the results:
“Creating a new brand, building a new website, and making marketing materials is not an easy task. You did it to excellence and I truly don’t think anyone else could have delivered in the way you did! Everything turned out amazing and we’re excited every time we get to use it.”
That’s exactly the kind of thing we want to hear. Nothing is worse than seeing a company that’s ashamed of a website they put a lot of money and time into. It should be a valuable resource that brings visibility, authority, and trust to their brand… not the opposite.
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Ashley Gadd is an award-winning digital marketing strategist, graphic designer, and educator who helps clients turn their squirrely ideas into captivating and strategic brands that convert. Blending her background in nonprofit marketing with her education in design, Ashley offers customer-centric brand experiences that connect the visual and strategic dots to give her clients the tools to build a sustainable and profitable business they’re proud of.
Use this worksheet to bring more clarity to your business! Let this be your first step before you tackle your ideal customer profile and buyer persona.
and bring much-needed clarity to your business.