What happens when the retail powerhouse West Elm and the office furniture innovator Inscape combine efforts to launch a new company?
Sparks fly. And B2B customers get a more retail-like experience.
That's what the CQL team saw when we began designing their ecommerce website.
And with those sparks came lots of really great ideas and creativity, because the entire goal of this new venture was to break through the clutter.
Being in the center of that creative storm, our team could see firsthand what emerges as different kinds of minds align.
As the team facilitating this process, it's exciting to witness this energy swirl together like magic. As the project leaders, knowing how to let that magic happen organically while keeping the project moving meant finding the right balance of enthusiasm, task management, and expertise.
What did we learn during this process? A lot.
Two Distinct Brands = Two Distinct Approaches
It's been interesting to watch the collaboration happen as these teams created a new approach to the office furniture industry. Their two styles had to come together and the lines had to blur.
One team member quipped that, "blurring is what we are trying to do here, like the lines between home and work—the very heart of this new venture."
From the start of the project, the team knew that B2B customers wanted a more retail-like experience. This was an enticing opportunity for our UX and digital marketing teams.
Entrepreneurs Are a Crazy Bunch
They are what make our economy go around. They are big-picture thinkers that find a way to bring their dreams to life. One of their greatest skills is bringing the right team together and figuring out a way to "get big ideas done." Budgets are typically smaller; a new venture has to prove itself before the market will consider jumping on board.
The Creative Process Must Be Honored
The ideas that launch a vision are exciting and everyone likes to weigh in about what they think it should become. When the team first meets, there is total engagement but the ideas have to land. As a project leader, capturing all of these ideas is important and helps make sure clarity emerges.
Prioritization is Critical
Once all the ideas are on the table, 'what's possible' has to be narrowed to the best ideas. "Where to start" takes shape and the project manager molds the project into a version that fits within the scope and timelines. Deadlines are established and constraints are placed to guide the project towards its end goal. Everyone knows there will be a point when the creative phase will be replaced with the disciplined process of development. This is sometimes challenging for big-picture thinkers to put new ideas on hold.
Reality Sets In
Whoa—we have how many weeks left to launch? Becoming more focused lessens the chaos and anxiety that starts to set in for the team. Communication becomes more efficient while assets start to pour in. Teleconferences revolve around deliverables rather than concepts and the clock ticks faster.
Website Becomes a Reality
The website's outline is now visible as the development team is bringing the vision to life.
Images start to fill in the blank spaces and copy is written. Fonts are nailed down and colors are tweaked. The fine tuning begins as each detail is evaluated with a critical eye. It is crunch time, but realizing the work is going to pay off becomes its own reward.
Big Ideas Come with Big Rewards
Our team traveled to NeoCon to visit the West Elm Workplace showroom and hear customers experience the website first hand. Silently, we start to give each other high-fives.
By keeping the retail-like B2B in the front of our minds, we hoped customers designers and dealers would "feel it."
And they did.
Enjoy the Ride
Do you find yourself in line for the new rollercoaster the opening weekend at an amusement park? Well the excitement you get as you ride for the first time, and experience of the peaks and valleys and twists and turns, is exhilarating.
I know this is an overused analogy, but it is very much the truth. For the people that get to watch their product venture begin, that excitement gets to last much longer than 2 minutes. This ride could be days, weeks, or months long, and it all depends on the passion of the team.
Hey West Elm workspace...Thank you for the coaster ride—our hands are in the air—screaming ready to do it again!