Together with Larissa Bruin, a dutch fashion blogger, I created a new website to fit her style and image: From Hats To Heels
Back then I was bartending at a local bar in ‘de Pijp’ in Amsterdam. As the bartender of such an establishment you’re not only serving food and drinks, you’re also trying to make the customers feel at home. This means that you get to know your (regular) customers and they get to know you. So now and then I would tell people that I am interested in designing both physical and digital products. On one occasion a customer asked me if I was also good at creating websites, because she knew somebody who knew somebody who wanted a new and custom designed blog.
Designing a personal website for someone can be difficult. They usually have a clear vision of what they want; the challenging part for the webdesigner is interpreting the client’s wants and wishes into clear requirements for the design of the website. Another challenging aspect of this project was the fact that Larissa had a tight budget. Although I was not trying to be expensive, I did want to be a professional and responsible freelance web designer. This posed a constraint on the amount of work I could justify putting into this project.
Therefore, instead of trying to think of what Larissa wanted for her website by doing research on my own and starting an iterative design process, I chose a different approach. I wanted her to design her own website by articulating what she really wanted into detail. This way, if successful, she would have exactly the website she pictured and I could focus on realising this.
Because of the tight budget I was not sure if I would even be able to build a website for her. So I first recommended her to buy a custom theme for Wordpress that I would help her set up. She did end up finding one that fit about 80% of what she wanted. This meant that I could make a child-theme from that existing Wordpress-theme, instead of making one from scratch. This reduced the development time drastically to the point that we were able to create something that both fit her budget and met her expectations.
This project really felt like a cooperation between Larissa and me and it was very insightful to work together with somebody who is not a designer. For me this project emphasizes that designing for people means that you have to design with people.
Looking back now, I think we did a pretty awesome job. We launched the website in the beginning of 2015 and it still looks awesome today as you can see in the screen capture below or on From Hats To Heels.