Christopher Dowson | Studio
Philip von Nell
Case Study: Branding, Graphic design, Web design, Web development, E-commerce, Retired projects
Philip von Nell Wines had a long and colourful history selling Fine Wine and Spirits to restaurants, bars and hotels across the UK but had yet venture into selling directly to clients. They had a logo, but little else in the way of brand collateral. In short - when it came to B2C - they needed everything.
The brand had to be brought up-to-date and had to really sell the sense of history in the company to the core demographic - young professionals - without appearing stuffy, old or irrelevant. It also had to make a product which could be deemed too exclusive for most relevant and accessible.
After all, it's not often you would spend £150 on a single bottle of champagne relaxing in your PJs with your MacBook on your lap, is it? Well, some might, and that's what the company was counting on.
And so it all started with the logo…
The logo emblem had been hand drawn some years earlier, and in the intervening time scanned, "live traced" in Adobe Illustrator and black lettering added. The end result was less than favourable for what needed to be achieved. I began the overhaul process by taking the shapes and elements of the logo as-was and bringing them more in line with my usual output as well as making it far more suitable for a wider variety of uses.
This is what I started with:
And below is what I created from it. Cleaner, clearer and much friendlier.
Next I began the website planning, with a large amount of emphasis placed on the user's journey from bottle to basket. As I fit the target demographic for the site, this gave me a large number of friends and associates to call on for research into tastes, perceptions and the general level of personality the site would need to achieve its goals.
Many of PvN's competitors relied on selling a huge inventory of wines and spirits, but this was not how this site would run. As a boutique importer, Philip von Nell only deals with a hundred or so varieties from two dozen growers (I know this seems like a lot, but it really isn't) and so the approach we decided on was to create a showcase for each wine - literally giving it chance to breathe.
The wine should - and does - sell itself. With enough information about each bottle to both inform your buying choice (and and drop into conversation during the dinner party you are more than likely going to be having) as well as technical information about the wine, I (along with the copywriter) created a customer and SEO-friendly user experience.
Over the course of the build it became evident that responsive design was going to play a large part in ecommerce over the coming years and so focus was shifted to the mobile buying process and ensuring that everything could be achieved on an phone as easily as on a desktop.
Many ecommerce sites don't make the distinction between the two platforms and simply squeeze the mobile buying process down to a smaller screen size - creating overly-long, complicated forms and a disjointed user journey.
All processes on the site were designed mobile-first, allowing for embellishment and additions to be added as screen real estate increased. Small touches, such making the “add to basket” a sticky element which follows you down the page make the mobile experience seem more native.
It was important to the client that the site never felt off-the-shelf or “templatey” - the wine is carefully crafted over many years and the website has to reflect this sense of craftmanship and attention to detail. I'd like to think I succeeded in that, as this website has become a labour of love during the time I have spent on it.
Using ExpressionEngine (what else?) and one of its robust ecommerce modules, I was able to craft a site that met every core requrement of the client (and some which they had not considered) without the complexity of Magento or the poor security of Wordpress (I won't use Wordpress, but more about that at another time).
With Stripe powering the payment gateway, I was also able to create a seamless buying process where the customer never needs to leave the site, and at the same time where PCI Compliance is less of an overhead (given how Stripe works). This made the client very, very happy.
As the client wanted a bespoke system (or as close to bespoke as budget would allow) it was important to choose a designer who could handle the technical aspects of the build, but also make sure everything looked as good as possible.
My experience with ExpressionEngine and ability to figure out a system to accomplish pretty much anything meant I was able to fully utilise the out-of-the-box features of the software and create not only the system the client needed, but also one which can grown and expand as they do over time.
I was also able to bring my not-inconsiderable photography skills to the table, as many of the wine images that were provided by the producers were far below the quality required.
And of course, a few bottles of Pinot Noir were quality checked over the course of the project.