In this post, Part One, we talk about the power behind Web Design Case Studies.
What is a case Study?
A Case Study is a process or record of research in which detailed consideration is given to the development of a particular person, group, or situation over a period of time.
For the most part, case studies are a mainstay of nearly every industry. Companies of all types use case studies to show the world how they helped solve a problem or issue for one specific client.
Remember back in school when the teacher wanted you to show your work? A case study works on the same principle. Some clients want to get a “peek behind the curtain,” and see the processes involved in your work.
What Clients Want!
They want to see not only how the finished product looks, but also the entire process from start to finish.
- How did you take a client’s problem and develop a solution?
- How long did it take, and what was involved along the way?
- What was your thought process, and what did you do in order to solve a client’s problem or achieve their goals?
These are some of the questions that are typically answered in case studies, and they provide a lot of insight for clients.
Case studies can also take many forms, and may not even be called case studies at all. For example, “Success Stories.” You can tailor your own phrase, creating something that’s engaging and works for you.
Regardless of titles, a case study tells the story of how you helped one specific client. This is important, because if a future client can identify with a past client – their problem, their goal, whatever it may be – they can see how you might help them in a similar way.
Strangely, very few freelancers seem to use case studies, while larger companies – especially in creative industries – are using them quite extensively. This is a real missed opportunity, but if you stop and think about it, this is great news for you.
If you are one of the only ones in your market to utilize case studies for your business, you can really stand out from the crowd. This will make you and your business that much more attractive to potential clients if you are one of the few people on board with using this technique.
By their nature, case studies also show that you understand and have experience in solving problems. They help show clients that you can take a unique situation, problem, or goal and create a process to help your client get exactly what they want.
Part 1: How to Craft a Compelling Web Design Case Study
Choose your subjects carefully.
The first step toward a great case study is choosing the right subject. If you have the luxury of a lot of past clients to choose from, it’s probably wise to choose an “everyman” client that the majority of your future clients can identify with. Someone that people can understand who has a problem or goal that a lot of other businesses share.
Choosing a client from an obscure or complicated industry that will require lots of explanation will make it more difficult for potential clients to relate. If people can’t relate to your case studies, they’re unlikely to be able to see you solving their problems.
Consumer-facing clients such as restaurants, retail shops or hotels often have easily recognizable goals and make for excellent case studies.
Also, keep in mind your target client base when picking your subject. Make sure you choose a candidate that will appeal to the types of clients you want to attract.
For example, if you happen to be successful in producing web design for the construction industry, try to stick to that area for your case study, or you run the risk of not relating to your bread-and-butter clients.
Being able to identify with the client in the case study is critical because we want the reader to be able to easily project themselves into the client’s shoes. You want them to read it, sit back and think ‘He did a great job for that guy, and I have similar issues. I bet he could help me too.’
However, if you’re newish business you may not have a long client list and so you won’t be able to be as picky. But that’s okay – everyone starts somewhere, and as you gain more clients, you can write more and more case studies and get pickier as time progresses.
If you happen to be brand new, with no past clients to write a case study on, you can write a case study in real time. This can actually be a good thing, as you’ll be able to write the case study on a client you’re currently helping, and all the details will be fresh in your mind.
Now that you have your client picked out, it’s time to start crafting. Remember, you want to tell a story from start to finish. Beginning with when your client first came to you:
- What was the problem or goal that drove them to you in the first place
- What did they need you to solve?
- Did they need a logo designed, a press release written, or a brand new website designed?
Talk about any and all prerequisites that came with the project. For instance, a client may come to you wanting a website that can be easily updatable by their own staff, they want to bring in the colors and theme of their existing logo, or be able to collect email addresses.
These prerequisites all amount to limitations on your creativity. This is an excellent thing to show, as it tells future clients that you can operate within the boundaries of what your clients ask for.
You should also include other unspoken considerations that you took into account during the process. This could include industry-standard features that you happened to uncover in your research.
A good example of this would be if a new restaurant wanted you to build a website for them, and you found out during your research phase that most restaurants are using a service called “OpenTable” to take online reservations.
- All elements that were required.
- All elements the client specifically requested.
- Things that you found out on your own.
Include how you took all these things into account as you came up with a solution for the final product. Explain your thought process behind your decisions and show how your decisions influenced and benefited the project and the client.
Quantify whenever you can.
Always include real, accurate numbers whenever you can. It’s one thing to say “My web design contributed to the construction firm’s success.’, but it’s much better to say ‘The website I designed for XYZ client gets 10,000 unique visitors a month, with 10% of them converted into sales leads.”
These are quantifiable statistics that future clients can read and easily understand. Visitors don’t have to wonder what it actually means, or think about your statements in an abstract way – it’s real world data that is easily interpreted.
They want to know that if they hire you for a project, that you’ll get them results. And real results are measured in numbers, not in warm fuzzy feelings.
Stick around for part 2: How to Present Your Web Design Case Studies.
- Break it Up
- Use headers
- Use lists
- Use images