Case Study: Steve Giles Online

About a month ago I had the pleasure of completing a website for Salisbury based vocal coach Steve Giles. I’ve finally set aside some time to give a little insight into the project.

Background and Brief

Steve is vocal coach from the Salisbury/Southampton area and this project was one of many that he’s commissioned me to complete. Steve wanted a complete overhaul of his previous website and also for me to look at creating a new brand from scratch. The new website needed to look professional and encourage people to make contact. It also had to be updatable by Steve himself and include a blog. With that in mind the natural choice was to develop the site using WordPress.

First Steps: The Logo

Before jumping straight into the logo design process I wanted to gather Steve’s thoughts and really find out what he wanted to achieve with his brand. After having a chat it became clear that the new brand needed to stand out, be unique and mix professionalism (considering Steve is one of only 36 certified speech level singing coaches in the UK) and simplicity. With that in mind I started knocking out some ideas in Photoshop as I find this quicker than Illustrator in the early stages of a logo design project. These were some of the first ideas. You’ll notice I didn’t add any colours at this stage as there is a danger that a client may eliminate an idea based solely on its colours. Steve really liked the device I created from his initials ‘s’ and ‘g’, so the next step was to play around with colours, placement and the typography. There were several iterations in between and some debate on whether to go with a serif or sans-serif based font, but Steve decided he really likely the bottom version shown here, so we ran with it.

The Website Concept

Having finished up the logo successfully we moved on to the website design. I sent Steve a few links to various sites that made a big deal of photographs of the website’s owner. My thinking here was that if these images could portray Steve in a professional, yet relaxed and easy going manner it would hopefully encourage potential clients to make contact. Thankfully Steve was keen on this idea and was more than happy to get in touch with a professional photographer to get a shoot organised. Armed with the photos, I set about sketching out a really rough wireframe for the homepage. I find it so important to include this step in my projects, because it doesn’t take long to sketch something out and it gets me thinking about other possibilities in terms of layout. After all you can just rub your lines out and start again. After creating the wireframe and being sure that it included everything that was required, I booted up Photoshop and created the following concept. Thankfully Steve loved it and it was signed off with extremely minimal modifications. I also mocked up the design on an inner page of the website – in this case the blog page so Steve could see how this would look too.

WordPress Development

The final stage was to build the site using WordPress. I used widgets to allow Stave to have full control over the content on the homepage as well as having obvious control of the content on the inner pages of the site. The blog was an important part of the site, so I used some PHP to dynamically pull in posts from that section of the site and show them in the ‘From Steve’s Blog’ section on the homepage. During this stage Steve expressed a desire to do something a little different than just have the contact form sit on an inner page template. I put forward the idea of having it potentially slide down from underneath the navigation bar and mocked up a concept to show Steve just how this might look. We went with it, and the final result was very well received. It also lent itself very well to the addition of a button to pay for a lesson via Paypal.

Steve’s Comments

As Will has designed for me on previous projects and I am fully aware of his abilities, he was the first choice for my own website. I wasn’t really sure what I wanted from my website at first, and so needed Will to create ‘something from nothing’. I was more than happy to leave it entirely in his hands. Initially, I was a little apprehensive about basing the site around pictures of me, as it literally meant; using pictures of me on my website. Funny that. But, one of my worries with this approach at first was that it could, if produced incorrectly, hint slightly towards narcissism. Thankfully, Will had a clear idea of what he wanted which avoided that problem, to produce a contemporary website that is both professional and personal. Jack White (Co Director of Love Soul Choir) and I made a pledge after Will’s first project for us; we were so happy with Will’s work that we wouldn’t ever use another graphic designer. We won’t tell him that though, incase this invaluable status encourages him to put his prices up! Many thanks for your great work again Will.

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