Behind the Build: SimplyFramed.com
Posted by Liana Hornyak on Sep 12, 2019
From offices to nurseries to the most used room in the house, we believe that every space you live, work, and play in deserves the occasional refresh—even if that space is virtual. This year, we felt it was time to give Simply Framed’s online home a makeover, so we partnered with the super talented folks at Faculty to upgrade our platform, add some fun new features (have you met The Designer yet?!) and provide our Pro partners and clients with a more robust, intuitive user experience.
Keep reading for the what, how, and why behind the redesigned simplyframed.com with our founder, Dara Segal.
Simply Framed: How long was the new site in the works?
Dara Segal: From Scope to Beta, the process to get our new website live took about 10 months. But as the adage goes, “design is never done,” and we continue to release improvements, updates, and bug fixes to the website on a weekly basis.
SF: What were some of the most important things that you set out to accomplish when relaunching simplyframed.com?
DS: I often joke that Simply Framed should be called “not so simply framed” because of the complexity of what actually goes into making a custom frame. We knew that we had already done a lot of work to simplify a complex experience; we just needed a simple, scalable interface that would enable anyone to design and buy a custom frame that they will love forever. Finding a way to provide an accurate frame design preview for a nearly limitless number of options, and make it accessible with just a few clicks, was our most important goal.
SF: What is your favorite thing about the new frame ordering experience?
DS: It’s hard to choose but if I had to pick just one, I’d say that I love how at any point in the frame design process, your frame (and/or print) is always complete and you can always add your project to cart because the default settings for your frame details (frame or mat style, mat color, mat size, mounting method, etc.) are based on expert recommendations from our team, not just an algorithm. It has always been important to us that our software reflects not just what frames you can buy, but which frame and mat styles we think you’ll love for your project.
SF: What was the biggest challenge you faced when redoing the site, and how did you solve it?
DS: Building the logic that controls for limitations around art and frame size was challenging. For example, not all frames can be made larger than 30x40”—so what happens when a customer moves their size to just over that edge? Thinking through all of those scenarios and coding the details took several months. We created a unique token format to represent the plethora of choices a customer can make while building their frame. 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.
SF: Were there any aha moments or surprise realizations that happened along the way, that perhaps changed the course of the rebuild?
DS: We learned a lot during this process, and we continue to learn as we follow existing and new customers’ usage of our website. We originally planned for a “Quick Shop” feature, which we ended up removing just a few weeks after the Beta release. I think that we thought The Designer might be overwhelming for some customers, so we wanted to make a less complicated version, but what we quickly learned is that because The Designer builds in our default recommendations, it actually is the fastest way to design a custom frame online, faster than our previous experience of choosing one part of the frame at a time.
SF: What is the thing that you and your team were able to accomplish in the build that you are most proud of?
DS: We improved so much that it’s really hard to choose just one thing. Enabling a customer to share their project, mid-design, with anyone using the custom URL is very powerful.