I was approached out of the blue by Natalie Lowe’s father in 2015. He had a story that was all too familiar to me – Natalie had spent a lot of time, and lot of money with big web design agencies, and ended up with a fat load of nothing. They were at their wits end and just needed someone who cared about their work to create a simple, clean and creative website.
Natalie Lowe is a professional dancer on the BBC hit TV show “Strictly Come Dancing“. She’s been on the show for years, as well as countless other TV shows across the world, and even has her own workout DVD and franchise. To find out that with all this going on, that she didn’t even have a website was just crazy. Part of the problem was her bad experiences in the past with companies, but also a mindset that all websites must be ridiculously expensive, and take years to build. I agreed to meet with Natalie in London to see what I could do.
It was immediately apparent when meeting Natalie that she is extremely passionate about her work as a dancer, but also about helping to improve the lives of others. She had a million and one ideas for her website, and the first thing we agreed was that she shouldn’t be trying to boil the ocean. I explained the ‘MVP‘ (Minimum Viable Product) approach to her (blog coming soon!): Yes, she might have a whole range of valid ideas for a website, but when it comes down to it, what does she need on a site for launch? What are the key features and pages that we could go live with? By building these features only, we could achieve the quickest time to market, and therefore start creating value sooner. Once the MVP is released, then more features can be added, a bit at a time, and released continuously. As a feature is released, we can user test it, either with real users or with Google Analytics, and we can choose what feature to release next, or whether to further iterate the last release. For further reading on this approach, I highly recommend Lean UX by Jeff Gothelf with Josh Seiden.
Natalie was excited, and so was I. We put together a list of key pages, and our strategy for launch. We only had a few weeks before the new series of Strictly was to be aired, and so we had to move fast.
I worked closely with Natalie on the designs – she didn’t know what she wanted, but she knew what she liked, and we began building moodboards together of colours and designs. As time was of the essence, I began to build the site straight away. In today’s world of web design, flat designs can not only slow the process down, but they fail to show moving interactions and how the site behaves on multiple devices – and for this reason I prefer to design with code.
I used WordPress as the base CMS, and created large imagery with full width content, bold fonts, and feminine colours, beautifully optimised for all devices, from phones to large screens. As her menus were fairly full of content in the end, I decided to stick with the mobile menu (replacing the hamburger with the word ‘Menu’) on all screen sizes. It keeps the design clean and uncluttered; just the way I like it.
We both love the result, and it’s something that we’re both very proud of, but not only that, we did the whole thing in a few weeks, and at a fraction of the cost of a large agency.
See the site for yourself here – www.natalielowe.co/ – and do let me know what you think!
I’ve struggled for years to find a committed website company and I have now finally found it. Danny Fontaine is an absolute joy to work with; he is hard working, talented and gets the job done. I can’t speak highly enough about him. He is boht easy going and professional.
Thank you Danny, from Natalie Lowe.Natalie Lowe