Bonds Lifestyle

I worked with Bonds Lifestyle to create a website featuring strong design elements, e-commerce capabilities and event management. I worked with users and staff to great a really accessible user experience.

Client
Bonds Lifestyle

Challenge

Bonds Lifestyle is a well established independent shop and cafe based in Stratford Upon Avon, specialising in antiques and high end furniture. Just before the full UK lockdown came into place earlier this year, there was a clear need to add e-commerce capabilities to their website to future proof the company in particularly uncertain times for independent retailers.

Working with the team at Bonds and conducting research with regular customers at their physical store, we put together these initial requirements for the website redesign;

  • The design elements should be clear and accessible to an audience of diverse ages with a range of capabilities with using technology.
  • Keeping the information from the physical store; whereas the the e-commerce project would add to their revenue it was still vital that once the lockdown eased the physical store would still be the larger part of the business.
  • Accessibility of the content management system so the members of staff could manage products as well as the rest of the site.

Process

With the lockdown imminent the build was on an extremely tight scale to get the business running digitally as soon as possible. I decided early on to build in Webflow. Webflow is a no-code platform so we could design, prototype and launch quickly, it offered a great content management system for the staff to manage the site  in-house and had the design flexibility to be able to style the website in a way that felt true to the brand.

Early wireframing and typography research

Initial competitor research showed how important it would be to revamp the navigation of the site. The previous version kept the menu under a toggle menu, this was great for a clean aesthetic, but wasn't practical once the menu elements doubled up to accommodate the e-commerce sections.

After prototyping several options and putting them through user testing we settled on a two line navbar on desktop devices, and retaining the toggle menu on mobile  with the addition of a scrolling navigation for e-commerce elements. Our user feedback illustrated the importance of language to offer clarity between the two sections of the site - initial duplication of the word "shop" confused users who were looking to buy products online but ended up finding information for the physical store. After changing that to "Visit Us" this issue subsided.

Separate navigation for distinction between physical store and e-commerce

Across the website I found users responded well to strong contrast in the typography, a minimal display with plenty of margins around elements and large images for visual cues of site sections. I used the typeface Tenez across all the headings, the slight serif of the characters worked gives it a traditional feel, but it was also unique enough to play into the character of the brand.

As more people were going online during lockdown our user research showed providing clear ordering information and brand information would be vital to maintain trust between the brand and the user. This also was important in the user journey, with our research suggesting users would not finish a purchase if they didn't feel comfortable with how the inputs were arranged on the checkout forms. Showing Bonds Lifestyle as an established local business across the site instilled confidence with users, as well as making the ordering and returns process as transparent as possible.

The custom basket including browser payments

Outcome

The project successfully met all the initial requirements and was live within four weeks of commission. The website is now managed by the team at Bonds Lifestyle who are able to manage events, quickly update customers to store opening times and planned closures and expand their catalog of products.

Our latest user research gave us really positive feedback and I've mapped out long term updates. Going forward we are now looking at extra usability for users and staff, this includes expanding the search options and filtering for products, adding a blog and adding better integration for stock control between the physical and online stores.

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