Case Study: Product Management, Creative Direction and UX for Mandie Brice
Amanda (Mandie) Brice is a makeup artist, model, podcast host, coach, and author who inspires multi-passionate people to follow their dreams and reach their full potential, while also looking and feeling their best.
At the intersection of mindset, beauty, and the transcendental, Mandie Brice is offering a wholistic set of tools and services for creating a meaningful lifestyle.
Key stakeholders: Mandie Brice, direct consumer base (makeup lovers, ambitious entrepreneurs with stories of succeeding against all odds, people in need of a lifestyle change, self improvement enthusiasts)
Competitors (direct and indirect): Gabrielle Bernstein, Danielle Laporte, Brené Brown
User Problems: I want to feel my best, but I don’t have time. I want to feel pretty, but trends and the beauty industry overwhelm me and I don’t know where to start. I want to live my dreams, but big changes scare me and intimidate me. All odds feel stacked against me, how do I get unstuck? I am disillusioned with quick fixes. I need realistic advice.
Mandie approached me needing a series of changes done to her branding and online presence. The main areas of concern were:
• Refreshed logo with a more modern font and style
• Refreshed brand color scheme and graphics
• Consolidation of all her products and services under one platform (her personal website)
• Improved user experience and information architecture
• Integration of multimedia content into her website
• Better focused content strategy
I prefer KANBAN method of workflow organization, because it offers structure and prioritization without becoming too rigid, restrictive, or overly stifling. Also — due to the nature of my work and backlog of tasks, a ritualized meeting schedule in the context of this project was detrimental to the overall quality of output.
Therefore, a LEAN and KANBAN approach was much better suited, organizing the tasks in order of priority and holding meetings with the client when milestones were reached, or when important exchanges were needed.
Cutting back on excess time spent on meaningless activities while maximizing time spent creating or building, is one of my philosophies in terms of resources and time management.
Before starting the implementation and development phase, it was absolutely vital to identify the areas that needed the most urgent care, followed by features and changes scheduled for a secondary or tertiary phase.
After discussing with Mandie, together we identified that the most important features to tackle were:
- logo redesign
- migration and integration of her e-courses under her website, finding the best LMS (Learning Management System) solution to facilitate a rapid and streamlined e-course creation
- better information architecture for her portfolio pages, combined with a unitary visual design and similar layout
1. Logo Redesign
Opted for an elegant font that is sophisticated and legible, while still maintaining a warm personal tone due to being a cursive, handwritten style, font.
I maintained the lips logo mark, since it is Mandie’s actual lip imprint, which makes this logo unique and personable.
In terms of brand colors, I updated slighted the old color scheme to incorporate a more vibrant shade of purple tones.
2. New Website Features and Uplift
Since the start of this project was in late fall/autumn, we set the migration and introduction of e-courses and launch of her new goal setting/planner e-book to be top priority.
Why? This was because on New Year’s a lot of people take an inventory of the year that just passed, and also desire to set goals and milestones for the upcoming year.
Here is where Mandie’s services can help the most, so having this feature on the website before January 1st was most important. In terms of marketing, her courses and books were also presented as the perfect gift for anyone looking for a new planner or new self-development tools.
Because Mandie’s e-courses were hosted on a series of separate websites, in order to cut costs and maximize platform efficiency and usability, we decided to switch to a new hosting plan with higher storage capacity, as well as more flexible options of expanding current and future features.
Since Mandie’s website is based on WordPress, modularity and expansion is one of the core offerings of this CMS (Content Management System). This made it very easy for me to research and plan for the best LMS solution to fit not only with the rest of the content, but also the solution which would offer the best way to be integrated with the rest of the theme from a design and branding stand point.
The separate external paid LMS services and extra hosting plans were discarded, while the new section of Courses was added to the website and integrated with the shopping cart, news area, and portfolio pages.
This way, the costs of maintaining the product have been decreased by almost 50%.
Portfolio Pages redesign and consolidation of visual identity
Portfolio Pages have been a serious design and development challenge, because the WordPress theme was built in a way which didn’t allow for page editing. From a web development stand point it was based on Archives category in the admin back-end, instead of a normal front-end editable Page, which made it difficult to insert dynamic content, multimedia assets, and to modify the information hierarchy.
The solution I came up with was to abandon the Portfolio features offered by the theme present, in order to rebuild each Portfolio item from scratch by utilizing separate pages with a variety of flexible modules, and a more abundant way of organizing the content – like custom taxonomies.
The first thing I changed in terms of design was eliminating the sidebar and making the layout full screen width. This not only optimized the user experience on mobile devices by making the content easier to read, but also minimized scrolling space on both mobile and desktop, which saves users time dedicated to finding useful information.
Initially I designed the Writing Portfolio Pages by organizing each publication within a carousel of links with their corresponding articles and references to the original publication.
After careful testing and gathering feedback from Mandie and website visitors, I decided that the design and development solution I implemented was flawed, adding unnecessary steps in the users’ journey (too many clicks), as well as confusing them visually (rotation of grouped elements).
It was saving screen space, but it was costing user satisfaction and clarity.
So the new solution I proposed to Mandie was to ditch the carousel in favor of a masonry style boxed layout approach, where each publication has its own dedicated content box, defined by:
- a featured logo designed in a visually similar style by using Mandie’s brand colors and graphics
- a clear title
- easy to click through list of published articles
View updated page at: www.mandiebrice.com/writing
Other branding and design changes done at this point were: replacement of fonts, font sizes, and animation effects on HTML elements; as well as information architecture and hierarchy. Matching fonts and graphics with content elsewhere on the web.
Integration of podcast features and capabilities on the website — currently in the design and development phase.
Given that Mandie is also a podcast creator, she wanted to also have this as a bigger talking point on her website and to highlight her fantastic skills as a host and interviewer.
What is Bold Moves? A podcast that presents the stories of people who succeeded at accomplishing their dreams against all odds, and their lifestyle advice for others interested in wholistic self development.
Since until now the podcast was only mentioned briefly, I introduced a larger podcast area on the homepage, which incentivizes visitors to subscribe on the spot by presenting different options and platforms where the Bold Moves Podcast is to be found.
This area also links to a dedicated section of the website where visitors can access a complete list of the Bold Moves Podcast hosted by Mandie Brice episodes, as well as: listen, download, share them with friends, or be notified of future guests (and topics) invited on the podcast.
Redesign of Portfolio Page
As you can see, this portfolio page looks beautiful, but unfortunately it doesn’t convey the right message in terms of branding and usability.
While the tile approach is alluring in terms of big visual items, it lacks guidance and description. At the first glance, a visitor is left wondering what all these images mean, as there is no clear description until someone hovers over each photo.
On mobile devices, the hover state is non platform native, therefore the intuitiveness of the graphic interface decreases even more.
The challenge is to find a solution that is as simple as this, while integrating better usability features.
3. Strategy (of Creative Direction): An indie vision for big dreams
At her heart, Mandie is an artist. Her first passions were for reading and for creating endless looks with the wizard-like swipes of her makeup brushes. That’s why together we wanted to capture and maintain the feeling of the big sister you can always run to for advice or to fix up your dress when it’s crooked, as opposed to a prime time self help guru.
Not to say that any of these approaches is better than the other, only that one suits Mandie’s personality at this point in time more fittingly.
With this in mind, I wanted to create a vision where growth is done incrementally in mostly an organic and bootstrap fashion. The strategy revolves around attracting a loyal customer and listener base which has an affinity for beauty, mindfulness, and healthy choices, while remaining true to themselves.
• Repurposing social media posts into blog posts and vice-versa
• Breaking down essential talking points from Mandie’s Podcasts or books into shareable text quotes, shareable image quotes, Pinterest idea pins, Stories or Reels, blurbs in other magazine articles/blog posts
• Creation of animated gifs and stickers
• Cross promotion on Mandie’s other businesses
• Promotions and featured episodes on podcast platforms like Podia
• Utilizing special days (like National Beauticians Day on June 26th or Makeup Day if it exists) to bring awareness to Mandie’s services through hashtags and targeted posts
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