Turning a lifetime hobby into a new business with professional website design and branding.
We first met Jeremy and Jonathan Anderson at a small café in Toronto to discuss an idea they had for a new business venture. For years Dick Duff, a family friend had toiled away in his kitchen making organic beef jerky and creating new recipes. Jeremy and Jonathan had grown up gnawing on the jerky on family fishing, and camping trips and the community around Dick had grown to love his jerky as well. Friends and neighbours had grown to love the beef jerky so much in fact that Dick could barely keep up with orders and requests. Seeing a unique opportunity, the three men agreed to turn the hobby into a business, and that’s where our Toronto web design company joined the story.
In our preliminary meetings with the trio, we sampled the jerky – it indeed is the best I’ve ever tasted – and mostly reminisced about fishing trips, camping adventures and the great outdoors in general. Sharing the common bond and love for the outdoors we all knew it was a perfect fit from the start.
Every once in a while a creative project comes along that you feel really nostalgic or passionate about and you tend to pour a little extra love into it. After identifying our needs and creating a project scope, we broke trail on what was to be another great creative adventure.
Setting Branding and Website Design Goals
- Branding and logo design – all startups and new businesses begin in the same place. We need to establish the new brand identity with a custom logo design that will serve as our guiding compass throughout the rest of the project.
- Creative package design – following completion of the logo design and support marketing materials, we needed to create a branded package design to allow Dick Duff’s to get their product to market.
- Custom e-Commerce Website Design – Dick Duff’s planned to primarily sell their product online initially, so it was paramount to create a fully branded online retail experience with a professional website design.
- WordPress development – to allow Dick Duff’s to self-manage their website content and online orders, we opted for a custom WordPress backed using the Woo Commerce platform to handle the day-to-day website orders.
Our Branding and Website Design Process
Discovery and Strategy
Our team felt there was something special about this project from the start, and we soon discovered that the Dick Duff’s trio was as passionate and ready to get their hands dirty as was our Toronto web designers. We kicked off our discovery process as usual with our brand discovery questionnaire to get everyone thinking and sharing ideas. Design for startups is unique in that, for the most part, we’re working with a blank slate in all regards of the project, and our clients rely on our expertise and creative experience to really bring their ideas to life.
Understanding the unique nature of this branding project, we collected a series of different beef jerky packages both from Canada and the US and laid them all out. As a group, we identified what was working and what was not for the competitor’s branding and package design and began compiling a list of elements we wanted to include in our work for Dick Duff’s.
It is during the discovery phase of a project we would usually study the website analytics profile to learn more about what type of users are interested in the business or product and how they’re engaging with the brand. In the case of a startup, we just don’t have this detailed information to work from. It is in scenarios like this that our clients genuinely place their trust in the capable hands of our Toronto web design agency.
As part of our team began the creative logo design work, our web design and development experts started building the initial sitemap for the website to follow. Through exploring the sitemap with our client, we help them understand and create the navigational experience that users will eventually use to engage with their brand and products.
Following our site mapping exercise, we develop wireframes that are shared with our client through a prototyping tool to allow them to experience the wireframes in context. Wireframes serve as both a blueprint for the creative user interface design that follows, as well as a visual exercise in establishing page architecture and conversion strategy.
Custom Logo Design
Creating a logo design, whether it’s a simple refresh or a brand new identity is a challenging task. The logo serves as the cornerstone of a business and is often connected to the owner on a profound and personal level. Of all marketing materials, most companies use the logo is the element that almost never changes. For a logo to enjoy a long successful life, it must be timeless, and the client has to feel like they can depend on it for years to come. Understanding these basic facts, our Toronto logo designers carefully crafted three initial concepts to share with our clients. Each idea appealing to the underlying nostalgia and passion jerky lovers share, but approaching the emotions in unique visual directions.
In most cases, we avoid presenting too many different ideas to our clients to avoid confusing them with too many ideas and also making a tough decision a little simpler by keeping everyone focused on just a few core ideas.
Ultimately, we all settled on a rustic design that featured an iconic compass and traditional feeling and sense of simplicity. One of the many great elements at play in the new logo design is the ruggedness or texture that offers our designers an opportunity to carefully weave the brand element into the rest of the creative work.
With the completion of our creative logo design work, Dick Duff’s went off to begin celebrating their new brand at events while our design team changed gears and shifted focus to the new package design. At this stage, we’d earned our clients’ trust, and they felt comfortable leaving our package designers to their craft and seeing what we could come up with. Our only hard-pressed must-have was a window on the front of the package to show off the jerky.
In our original review of competitor’s packaging, we quickly learned that showing off the product through a transparent window offered an opportunity to stand out from the most of the field. Working further in our favour, showing the raw organic shape of the jerky also played up the ruggedness theme that was slowly developing in our branding work so far in the project.
e-Commerce Website Design
Our approach for creating a website user interface design for a retail experience is virtually the same as a B2B or any other website design. The path from introduction to conversion should be clear and straightforward. The real difference lies on the product page. In many cases, e-commerce websites appear to be very templated and basic. This is not to suggest this is a weak approach to design at all. In some cases, this approach can be beneficial in leaving the emphasis on beautiful product imagery to drive conversions. In other instances, the product page design is basic and stark because there are so many products to manage on the website that ease of management and performance or functionality are more important to the website owner.
Our approach to e-commerce website design focuses on carrying the branding all the way through the shopping experience. This is evident in our product page and checkout process design for Dick Duff’s. We have a beautiful product shot to allow users to familiarise themselves with the product and we’ve also carried through the woodsy design elements that do a fantastic job of bringing the wilderness experience to the palm of the user’s hand.
To make the website design more personal and unique to Dick Duff’s, many of the wilderness photographs used throughout the website were shot by friends and family members of the trio. To bring all this together, our web design experts created a series of photographic filters and styles that could be applied to each shot to help create a consistent experience throughout the entire website.
Aside from showcasing the end product, it was necessary to the founders of Dick Duff’s to tell their story and share their passion for quality organic jerky. To achieve these goals, our website designers created a visual storyline to engage users and help them understand how the jerky they’ve come to love was created.
Additionally, our team focused on showcasing how Dick Duff’s jerky is unique and the process in which the jerky is prepared, quality tested and eventually moved to market. Rather than just telling the story, we created a flowing narrative that relies on hand-picked imagery to effectively communicate these important details to the end user.
“Parachute Design takes time to identify unique brand personality and needs instead of presenting general solutions. They respond quickly and keep the project moving on schedule. Unlike other firms we’ve worked with, they actively collaborate and even challenge our ideas if they feel it means creating a better end product. I would highly recommend Parachute Design to any business in need of branding or website design services.”
Co-founder, Dick Duffs Inc.
Custom WordPress Web Development
e-Commerce website development requires a little more finesse than your average information-based or non-transactional website. In addition to our pixel-perfect attention to detail, our Toronto web developers focus on security and reliability. There isn’t much that can derail a buying experience for users than experiencing a security issue with their personal or credit card information. If the checkout page lags or returns an error, most people often begin to panic and wonder if the order went through, or were they billed twice. Ensuring the checkout process is fast and smooth not only instils buyer-confidence but also leads to better brand experience and ultimately more sales for our clients.
For the new Dick Duff’s website, we opted to develop the beautiful new UI design on WordPress. The CMS would allow the website administrator to quickly manage webpage content, create new blog articles and manage product inventory and retail information.
To add the e-commerce element to the website, we selected the very popular WooCommerce plugin that is highly customisable to allow our web developers to carry the beautiful new branding throughout the entire shopping experience as well as provide the client with powerful online retail management tools that are seamlessly integrated with the WordPress admin.
Understanding that our clients are most often less technically inclined or able to commit significant time learning how to use a new system, we strive to create a truly intuitive and easy-to-use content management system. This workflow ensures that our clients are able to quickly learn how to manage their website and experience fewer issues long term.
Another important aspect of our website design and development for Dick Duff’s was on-site search engine optimization. As a startup, they joined the market at a disadvantage by not having any digital or organic search presence. To allow Dick Duff’s to enter the race as quickly as possible, our web development team ensured the website was heavily optimised both in technical and performance aspects, as well as offering highly optimised and indexable content.
WordPress Website Deployment
Eager to hit the market, Dick Duff’s agreed to follow our lead and take a ‘soft-launch’ approach. By using this less aggressive approach, we allowed the website to live on the production server for a few days to perform our final post-launch quality assurance checks and ensure the website was performing and caching as expected before announcing the launch to the public.
CMS Training and SEO Best Practices
The last step in our website design and development process is the ceremony of handing off the metaphoric keys to our client. After the website has launched and is stable, we invite our clients to a screen demo of their new WordPress CMS where our design team can walk them through the day-to-day management of the website and share our experience and best practices with them to ensure they’re publishing valuable content and optimizing their website for search at all times.
About Parachute Design
Parachute Design has worked with many local startups over the years helping to establish what has come to be known as many iconic Toronto brands. Our firm is passionate about branding and website design for startups and always eager to hear more about new ventures. To discuss your new business or learn more about our graphic design services, call our Toronto web design company at 416-901-8633 or complete our online proposal planner.