Welchome

Website redesign for a high quality furniture retailer in Chelsea

Welchome are a luxury Italian furniture retail outlet based in Chelsea. They specialise in high quality home furnishings. They also offer a successful bespoke interior design service for commercial and residential customers.

In late 2015, they approached me to update their website . Their previous design was nearly six years old and visually was both dated and cramped. The site was only partially responsive and the content management system was . It was limited, counter intuitive, and frustratingly difficult to use. At the time Welchome's CMS requirements were not that great. However the CMS couldn't deliver even the bare bones functionality required.

The brief was to create a site that presented the visual quality of their products in a far more appealing fashion. They also required a comprehensive, yet simple Content Management System as they were continually updating their online catalogue with new products. As always, there were all of the features, that by then were standard on a website: responsive design, social media integration, mobile optimisation, etc...

The design of the site, which had previously been cramped and visually chaotic, was pared down with plain backgrounds, minimal design, and as much white space as possible. The existing typeface was replaced with Raleway, a light elegant geometric web-friendly font. Originally designed as a single thin weight by Matt McInerney, the font was later expanded into a 9 weight family by Pablo Impallari and Rodrigo Fuenzalida. Although it was originally intended as a display face, the extra font-weights have created an eminently readable yet distinctive font.

The colour scheme was mostly comprised of neutral greys designed to allow greater emphasis on the product photography. The home page design is dominated by a full-width carousel which allows the sheer quality of Welchome's product range to shine through.

An interesting part of the design process was the nature of the animations associated with rollover states for button, panels and menus. It's easy enough to show how  a rollover or drop down menu will look in its active state. However, the speed and nature of the animations between the two states is very much a subjective concept. Moreover, it's impossible to present that animation adequately on paper. This really boils down tot he client on how invested they are in every aspect of the design. In Welchome's case it took quite a while for the rollover states to be completed to their satisfaction.

The problem of the limited CMS was solved by creating the site from scratch using WordPress. This can often present a content problem when migrating an older site. In Welchome's case this was not much of an issue as their products are constantly being updated. The main issue was taxonomy. The database underpinning the previous site had never been normalised. This meant that products would pop up in the wrong places and, more problematically, would not appear where they were supposed to. There is no point in having a range of the world's best coffee tables if the website is busy hiding them from your visitors.

Once the categories and structure of the database had been agreed upon, the Content Management System was built from scratch. The functionality of the CMS was expanded to allow for control of all products, interior design services, news and catalogues.