Jumping into the
world of hot tubs.
July 2015 - Dec 2015
Watkins MFG owns many of the big name brands in the hot tubs and spas industry. They wanted a massive overhaul of all brand websites that fell under their umbrella. I would end up leading this project and maintaining it past implementation.
I entered this project later in the design process so I was going off the foundation our lead at the time had established. This was a unique project, in short, we needed to create 10 well-designed templates that could be rebranded for each subsidiary. We would start by working closely with the top 10 subsidiaries to understand what types of traffic, conversions, and content they had.
By this time we had some decent user research to work with and noticed patterns between the companies. The products and the services were similar and the reviews were too. So I worked on defining sections that could be reused among the sites.
This was to be an update and not a rebrand. So we had to be very aware of subsidiaries current style guides. Asking them to change even a few things would be a tall order since they'd have a lot of marketing material that was already established.
The team and I sat and reviewed what we knew about our clients, business needs, and tech constraints. We then started to try and think of as many relevant possible solutions as we could. From here we would move into rapid iterations of a few possible solutions. The goal with each layout was to offer enough customization for each brand to make it their own and at the same time, reuse as many elements as possible for the templates. That way we could easily distribute and modify for each location.
I'm a big believer in seeking out sources of inspiration for any project. For this project, I found inspiration in a few places. Car dealership websites offered a lot of references since they are very similar in that each manufacturer offers several models for its product. Take a look at a car dealership website and you'll probably be able to spot some similar patterns in the designs.
Hot Spring Spas
The first subsidiary I'd work with was Hot Spring Spas. We started by analyzing their current site design. The design was... old. So I was sure to bring some life back into and in the process secure a template to be used for other subsidiaries.
Before I worked some magic for Hot Springs.
My approach with this template was to keep it modern and clean. Only high-quality images would work well this template. Most of the companies had great photos so we weren't worried about lack of content. Each section has a clear start and finish and their top selling products are front and center. The entire site is responsive which was all new to them and the last touch was a video header that I clipped together.
Final high fidelity mockup.
The next subsidiary I'd work with was Norflow. We'd start off with a "Kickoff" meeting to learn more about their motivations, fears, constraints, and goals. From here we would move into conducting secondary research and market audits. The world of hot tubs wasn't exactly winning UX/Design awards so we had a lot of room to define how we thought the experience should flow. This made client meeting's quick and to the point. They trusted us and left the project in our hands with occasional update requests.
Before I worked some design magic for Norflow.
My approach to this template was to keep it fun and energetic. Water activities are a blast during the summer and I really wanted to communicate that visually. I used more icons and colors this time around to help the playfulness of the design. All images selected were day shots. To keep the warm tone consistent with the design. By now we'd defined core sections we wanted to use through every template so I designed around these requirements.
These templates are now being used by dozens of companies under the Watkins MFG brand. With the Hot Spring Template above being implemented on their flagship brands site. An overall success and one of the largest scale projects I'd worked on to that date.