UX Design & Research Process
I started with some competitive analysis to see what other custom home builders' websites looked like, priority of content types, and what questions they were trying to answer for potential customers. I also drew from my personal experience of looking for a custom home builder.
Knowing the client would need to update new photos and other content on a regular basis, I thought a WordPress site would work best for them. Next I looked into if there would be a responsive WordPress template that would work for this project. I found a few that were inline with their competitors, I wanted to give the client a couple style options.
While waiting on the client to get back to me, I started interviewing a few friends and family members I knew that have built or were in the process of building custom homes. I had a few key areas I knew to focus on from my personal experience, however I did not want to rely on that alone and wanted to make sure I was covering a variety of people in their target demographic. Builder's reputation, quality work, price, and communication were the common threads that evolved from those interviews.
The client's goals are also important, I wanted to capture how they wanted to gain potential customers from this marketing site. The client's main goal was to attract potential custom home building customers within a 30-mile radius of their office, next was to portray that they can also take on remodeling projects, and have two lots to build on.
With search being the main way potential customers would find this site, I created a list of SEO terms to include. Also, I created a list on how to educate the client on SEO best practices; including but not limited to having a variety of SEO terms on the site, adding links to the site on other sites (e.g. Houzz.com, Pinterest.com, etc.) and regularly publishing blog posts.
Once the client decided on a template and my research was complete, I started editing the template to get it in a state that would best serve the client's needs. I ended up removing most of the template features, mainly needed a homepage with their name, large photos, intro to who they are and what they do, testimonials, and contact information. Also, sub pages that would have other ways of discovering more content and information. Once I had the template customized, I focused on inputing SEO and their information on the homepage.
I waiting for the client to provide me with photos and content, once I have those in place my plan is to get the site in front of potential customers for feedback and usability analysis.
Successes and Failures
Disappointedly, I have not been able to get the small business owner to continue with this project to get it to a go live state.
However, I enjoyed working on the freelance project and adding some variety in my work, and using some of the skills that I have not used in a little while at my current day job. I even found myself working late into the night wishing I could work on it longer. With my design passion reignited, I realized I was missing that from my current day job. I enjoy the ux research side of things, but I also enjoy the design side. After working on this project, I spoke with my manager about pursuing more design projects at work.