A superior ecommerce experience, powered by human recommendations, not algorithms
We’re just beginning to unleash the potential of the technology Faculty built. Dara Deshe Segal, Founder & CEO of Simply Framed
When we started working together, Simply Framed was poised for growth. Thanks to high-quality custom framing and printing services and incomparable customer care, the business had a devoted customer base of professional designers, photographers, and artists. Founder and CEO Dara Segal also had a brilliant plan for growing her business by lifting up the small businesses that comprise the traditional framing industry.
But, Simply Framed’s existing ecommerce platform wouldn’t scale to support the growth. And, Dara wanted to be able to offer the same breadth of options her professional customers loved to a larger audience of consumers, without overwhelming them. To meet business goals, she needed to invest in Simply Framed’s website, infrastructure, and user experience.
With her eye on a long and prosperous future, Dara came to us. Our goal was to build a scalable system and an ecommerce experience that enabled anyone to design and buy a custom frame they’d love forever.
Dara often jokes, “Simply Framed should be called ‘not so simply framed’ because of the complexity of what actually goes into making a custom frame.” Thankfully, Dara and her team had already done a lot of work to simplify a complex experience. They also helped us learn about the countless technical and aesthetic decisions required when custom framing.
Over eight short weeks, we mapped out all the possible framing options and permutations that Simply Framed offers — 10,521,878,044,291,891,200,000 at last count. To empower all of Simply Framed’s customers to navigate all those options and confidently design and buy a custom frame they’d love forever, we needed to offer smart, professional recommendations in an easy-to-use interface.
Simply Framed’s new platform gives customers a shopping experience that outshines the best of both shopping online and in real life. The site is (of course) responsive, so customers can design and buy a custom frame, on any device, from wherever they are. In short: it’s a professional-grade framing experience that anyone can easily use, anytime, anywhere.
Faculty helped us design a simple, scalable system and architected a new platform that will enable our business to evolve and grow for the foreseeable future. Dara Deshe Segal, Founder & CEO of Simply Framed
The best product page ever
We got to the heart of things on Simply Framed’s new product page. Customers can quickly navigate the sextillions of options to design and buy something they’ll love forever, thanks to a super clean user interface and recommendations from Dara’s expert team, not algorithms.
As customers design their frames, they can make as many or as few decisions as they like. All of their options are consolidated and nested to make the UI less intimidating but not less powerful. When browsing options, customers only see what’s technically possible, so they can’t accidentally design a product that can’t be made.
Customers can also experiment in a live preview to gain confidence in their decisions. They can interact with their custom frame (complete with their art), try out different options, and see the results in real time.
If they want a second opinion, customers can easily share their actual designs. This might not sound like a big deal but most product pages are not truly shareable. More typically, if you change the color of an item and share the link with a friend, your friend will see the default color. Our product page allows customers to share their exact designs with anyone. Friends can also make a few changes and share them back.
Lastly, but importantly, customers are always ready to add to cart. Any choices they don’t want to make are automatically completed with expert recommendations.
The product page not only provides a superior ecommerce experience, it also enables excellent customer service. As one example: because customers and customer service representatives can easily share their exact ideas by copying and pasting one link, there’s a natural opportunity for a low-cost, high-touch concierge service.
An elegant API
The product page is made possible by a very powerful — but also elegant — API.
The API encompasses all of the technical framing requirements, industry knowledge, best practices, and aesthetic recommendations that Dara and her team accumulated in their years of experience. As a result, we can help customers quickly and efficiently build their perfect frame by:
- Filling in expert recommendations for choices the customer has not made themselves.
- Removing options that aren’t technically feasible, given the choices the customer has made.
- Suggesting options based on Simply Framed’s professional recommendations.
Because of the API, Simply Framed’s product pages basically do what an expert human would do if a customer walked into a frame shop.
Like any good URL, Simply Framed’s URLs are shareable, communicate meaning, and accommodate standard expectations, like a working back button (i.e., the back button in your browser has the same functionality as undo).
To achieve this, we created a unique token format to represent the plethora of choices a customer can make. The token is succinct enough to be used in many contexts: in the URL, in the API, and as product identifiers. It’s also legible to the expert framers who fulfill orders.
When done well, URLs speak for themselves. As another example, if a customer is browsing Simply Framed’s recommendations for framing a poster, the link communicates the choices the customer has already made:
Good design goes deep. While the product page and URLs are end results everyone can see, we were able to make them happen in large part by tackling Simply Framed’s information architecture. A well-organized information hierarchy ultimately helps Simply Framed’s customers design, share, and buy something they’ll love.
With lots of thanks
This project was a dream because Dara and her team trusted us and our skills. And they openly shared their skills, goals, and dreams. Together we were able to build something amazing. For that we’re incredibly grateful.
Special thanks to our good friend Frank Chimero, who was the lead designer on this project.
It’s clear that Faculty is not only expert at what they do, but that they enjoy their work and care deeply about it. Dara Deshe Segal, Founder & CEO of Simply Framed
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