From conception to completion.
Research to code.
Setting the stage
Progressive Electronics Inc. (PEI) is a low-voltage audio-visual and life safety (Fire and security.) design-and-build firm located in Kansas City, MO. They solve design problems kind of like me, except they solve for 3D spaces, design for optimal acoustics, and basically save lives with hi-tech fire and safety systems.
And for a second time, I worked with the firm to design the third version of their website. At the time that I designed their previous site, I updated their identity to give it a fresh, professional, trustworthy look, and this new website would build upon that evolving brand.
UX / UI / Site Build / Photography
This fully responsive website is built on WordPress using:
- Genesis Framework
- Elementor Pro
- Custom HTML/CSS
- Lite on the PHP and js.
PEI and its sales force need a digital method to communicate and validate their industry competencies for large-scale audio-visual and life safety design and installation so that they can more aptly compete for a larger market share; increase revenue.
I began this project with an open discussion with the PEI leadership, reviewing the old site–talking about what did and didn’t work–walking through some use cases, and visiting about their ideas for a new site. I listened and asked questions as they described market pressures of competitors, their differing market sectors, who their audiences are, and how those audiences differ from sector to sector.
The discussion mapped out:
- a general framework of the site to be further explored, uncovering an idea of the categories, and a rough page count.
- that PEI has two specific personas; one that doesn’t know where to start, and another that just needs to validate information.
- that I’ll gauge the strategic validity of Case Studies and Online Service Scheduling during user research and competitive website audits.
Initial site map
The case for Case Studies and Online Scheduling
One of the developing personas, known as “House of Worship” (HOW) embodies a group that often knows they need a big audio-visual system, but don’t know where to start. The other persona simply needs to validate PEI’s competencies for projects meeting a specific use and industry, e.g. an audio-visual systems design solution for an entire arena.
There’s a difference in the type and amount of information each group requires, and the hypothesis was such that a well designed case study would satisfy and appeal to both groups while aiding sales persons out in the field.
Online Service Scheduling
Servicing life safety systems is the bread and butter revenue source for PEI, and, anything to further streamline the process and divert resources elsewhere or cut down on overhead, was worth exploring.
Competitive website audits
The competition is ripe with businesses whose web presence is: 1. Understated and deemed too sparse to be relevant. 2. Ample information, but poorly designed. 3. Giant companies who inundate their visitors with information, that it’s simple to see how users might become overwhelmed and leave the site.
Case Study findings: Few sites used case studies and for those who did, the project information was generalized and/or mostly showed an image gallery of the project.
Online Service Scheduling findings: Those sites that competed in servicing, regularly did so via phone or online form call-to-action. No competitors offered online scheduling as a means to schedule a service call, which raised the question “Is it a competitive advantage and worth the resources to implement the idea?”
It was not.
Interviews and surveys told me:
- 17 out of 20 customers preferred a voice on the other end when scheduling service calls.
- 100% of people valued case studies, testimonials/referrals, or galleries of past projects when making a decision.
- the site would need to be fully responsive to satisfy both personas and sale staff.
For PEI and its sales-force, design a site geared towards social proof with case-studies using relatable and relevant language to engage appropriate personas, and confidently motivate sales staff.
Design a site that further elevates and leverages the maturing PEI brand. Provide relatable social-proof content throughout the site that instills brand trust in its viewer in support of PEI’s sale force while out in the field or over the phone. Design and develop a fully responsive site that is as useful in the palm of a hand as it is on top of a desk.
After taking PEI through a series of wireframes and interface options, and final layouts approved, the decision was made to pause the Case Study strategy to a second phase of the site design. The resources to complete the number of case studies needed were not available at that time.
This was a problem entirely because the site was designed around directing people to engage with case studies. It affected everything from information architecture, to copy, to layout. It happens. I rolled with it, reevaluated navigation architecture, thought through a modified content strategy, and modified the layouts accordingly.