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Removing Visual Clutter | O-Wool

by Arianne Foulks

February 26, 2013


O-Wool home

We recently had the pleasure of redesigning the O-Wool site, and I just love Jocelyn’s story:

O-Wool is a small company with the goal of providing knitters and crafters with a yarn that is environmentally responsible, affordable, and made locally in Philadelphia and the USA.

O-Wool’s skeins are wound by a gentleman in Philadelphia who has been working in the textile mills since his teens. It is a joy to watch him work – stopping and starting the skeining machines, snipping and tying off the skeins with the speed of someone who’s been doing it their whole life. He works in an old mill in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. In 1928, one third of Philadelphia’s 850 textile companies resided in Kensington, and it was considered the heart of manufacturing in the city. As textile manufacturing became cheaper abroad, Philadelphia could not compete. There are likely less than 50 textile companies in the whole city, and Kensington’s booming industry has given way to drug dealing and violence. I am happy that O-Wool can play a small part in supporting this last vestige of Kensington’s history.

O-wool’s original website felt busy and crowded, even on pages without much information. You can see some screen shots before we rolled our sleeves up and got to work by clicking the small images below.

[imagemap id=”909″]

Among the problems we aimed to solve:

  • Background pattern was too strong, and drew the eye to itself, uncomfortably.
  • No visual hierarchy to the text. All the wording, from the logo, to the tagline, to the links was equally large and important-looking, so it was hard to know where to look first.
  • No product photography on the home page to get the customer excited about what O-Wool does.
  • Too many clicks and confusion to get to what you were looking for.

Meg and Brad first worked on a fresh new logo (which could easily be its own blog post – so much loveliness going on there!). You can see the final branding we ended up with below – from a dumpy, grandmotherly look to something modern, pretty, and inviting.

O-Wool branding styles by Aeolidia

Then it was time to create a website that would really work for O-Wool. Jocelyn requested:

When visitors come to the home page I want them to get the sense that the company is organized and professional but is small and personal and interested in the hand-made. I’d like to feature beautiful photography on the home page, backed up by a warm feeling from the overall design (not TOO clean/modern/cold). My goal for when a visitor finds my site is to make it feel like it’s a place with a personality that they not only want to purchase yarn and knitting patterns from, but want to come back to.

You can see the new home page at the top of this post, and the new product detail page below. Brad presented the new look with this information:

We have to say that you have some amazing product photography! We wanted to create an atmosphere where these photos could be highlighted. Keeping the extraneous design elements a bit more minimal, we can showcase the products while easily allowing the user to navigate your site.


O-Wool item page

I asked Jocelyn how the new site was helping her, and she said,

It was worth the investment because I have a seamlessly functioning website that looks beautiful. It saves me SO MUCH TIME compared to building a site myself, and updating the (poorly constructed) site I built myself. For me, it’s worth the peace of mind that everything looks great and is working.

The site looks so professional that sometimes it’s actually been a hindrance in my industry – people think my company is bigger than it is, and they value small, family businesses and overlook me. I have to reiterate that my business is JUST ME to many people. I have to say, though, I’d rather have that problem than have a site that looks home made.

We are all so pleased with how this site turned out. The logo and design make me feel happy and peaceful, and I find myself checking in on it all the time with a smile! What do you think? Would you have been able to maintain interest in shopping on their original site, or would the clutter have turned you away?

Do you feel like your website has a clutter problem? Post a link to it in the comments for some suggestions from me.

Of interest:

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