How to Write a Web Design Case Study that Lands New Clients
One of the toughest challenges designers face when pitching prospective clients is winning over their trust and confidence. If your prospective clients haven’t worked with you in the past, they’ll likely have hesitations about handing over their hard-earned cash to a stranger. To win their confidence you’ll need to take some extra steps to reassure them that your design work will not only be a success aesthetically, but that it will also help them achieve their business objectives. One of the greatest tools in a designer’s arsenal for overcoming this unique obstacle is the case study.
Case studies are narratives that reveal what you are capable of as a designer. They allow you to walk prospective clients through the contextual details of your existing project work so you can outline your creative strategy from conception to completion. The best case studies move beyond intuition-based explanations and document the rationale behind the design, UX, and visual decisions. They offer a more humanized perspective into the design process that, ultimately, makes a business case for your work. This leaves you in a better position to prove your value (and price) to even the most skeptical client.
First things first: Plan for your case study ahead of time
Before we take a deep dive into the kind of content that makes a great case study, I want to stress the importance of creating a case study for each project you work on. While this may seem like a lot of extra work, you can facilitate the writing process by taking the time to proactively think about how you will document your projects and their successes before you begin working. That way, you’re guaranteed to end the project with strong documentation that reflects your thinking, iterations, and key results as accurately as possible.
The 5 core elements of a web design case study
Think of your Overview section as the executive summary of your case study. It’s the Cole’s Notes version of the document, and allows your prospects to quickly understand the highlights of your past work without reading the entire thing. This section should include the core takeaways from all other sections including the main problem, an overview of the solution, and key results. While the Overview will be your least detailed part of the case study, it is probably your most important. Only the most meticulous clients will take the time to read through your entire case study; the majority of them will just quickly skim through in order get the gist. Because of this, drafting a complete and well-articulated overview should be your top priority.
The Context and Challenge
The second section of your case study — commonly referred to as the Context and the Challenge — is designed to provide your prospective client with a detailed description of the context that led to the creation of the project. If it’s well-written, the reader will leave with a solid understanding of the environmental factors and problems that you were hired to solve as a designer.
The Process and Insight
The purpose of this section is to elaborate on your design process, creative concept, and insight that led to your design decisions. It’s also an opportunity for you to walk your prospective client through the research, workflow, and iterations of your design work. When writing content for this section, you want to illustrate how you got from The Challenge to The Solution. Make sure the flow of information is logical and that it culminates with a core insight about your client’s audience, business, or industry. These insights can stem from your client’s unique selling properties and key differentiators, or from their audience’s behavioural and consumption habits.
The Solution is where you get to show off your skill and style as a designer. It’s your chance to feature any and all samples of your work — from videos, landing pages, custom integrations, and anything else you created for the project. To really get the most from this section, be sure to include written descriptions about your design work. Take the time to explain in detail your site’s defining features like its UX, navigation structure, content strategy, or unique mobile attributes. If you put the effort into crafting descriptions that complement your visual assets, your readers will feel much more confident in your decisions as a designer.
For most business owners, it’s all about the numbers. That’s why this section is crucial for an effectively written case study. The Results section will cover the qualitative and quantitative success metrics from your project. While the type of metrics you report on can vary from one project to another, they should directly address the objectives you established in The Context and Challenge section. Having these results in hand will allow you to show your prospects that your work had a direct influence on your client meeting their goals. If you can do this, you’ll help them feel more comfortable putting their business (and their money) into your hands.
Credit : Shopify