Dayton Cars and Coffee is an organization that hosts meetups for car lovers of all kinds. In this project, the user experience team designed a website and social media strategy the client is able to single-handedly maintain, using the brand styles created by the branding team. My roles in this project were:
Co-designed the selected website style, led the team in implementing the style across all pages, and planned through the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic
UX Team Social Specialist
Strategized a usable, on-brand social media plan based on research of the client's social accounts
Dayton Cars and Coffee had inconsistent branding and communications. The organization was growing too fast to continue with an unprofessional presence. Also, the coronavirus outbreak affected the brand relaunch approach.
The objective of this project was to design a relevant brand, engaging custom website design, and practical social plan that represents Dayton Cars and Coffee to its target audience and positions the organization for growth.
This project shifted due to the coronavirus pandemic, forcing our team to navigate remote working, extra client communication struggles, adjusted project timelines, and changing strategic needs. Our UX team ultimately sent the website design to the developer with additional lessons learned and a higher degree of unity.
Client discovery, brand research, and digital audits
Brand selection and designing a new site structure
Brand extension across web and social media
Client presentations and file production for the developer
Client Kickoff Insights
Two key insights that would influence the final designs were the diversity of the DCC community and the organization's reputation for friendliness and professionalism.
Our team audited other top Cars and Coffee organizations to see what DCC was up against regionally and nationally.
Initial research on DCC’s digital presence was holistic and a little messy. Our team divided research into several audits, analyzed, and presented our findings internally.
This detailed look at the existing DCC website uncovered an inconsistent and inaccessible user flow.
Our team found that DCC misplaced important site information and lacked consistent brand voice throughout.
Clunky use of titles and alt tags reduced site usability. Phrases highlighting event names and locations converted best.
Relevant industry news, real community content, and brand collaborations always had the most engagement.
Three key recommendations were developed from the findings of the UX team's audits and presented to the client: talk like your user, keep brand consistency, and present the right content. These recommendations included specific brand, website, and social media components and were written to be practical for this one-man show.
Branding & Personas
The branding team worked with the client to solidify a new, cutting-edge brand direction while the UX team clarified the four personas that would guide digital brand extensions.
The UX team developed sitemap and wireframe options that took the presented recommendations, client requirements, and user personas into account.
Client words authenticity, passion, and connection shaped the brand direction. Four personas based on limited data and access to users were developed based on the team's secondary research and client discovery meeting. These personas accounted for young and old and were each represented by a car model.
Two navigation approaches were presented to the client: one was straightforward, and the other told the DCC story more creatively yet accessibly for DCC's diverse audience.
After strategizing, writing copy, building, and presenting our initial wireframes to the client, we made the requested revisions to sponsor hierarchy and moved into the design phase of the project.
Website Pages Design
In order to make sure we applied the UX recommendations we presented to the client, we kept our users in mind throughout the design process. Our team rewrote all website copy and chose a mix of bold and subtle design elements that help the user get to know the brand and navigate the site easily.
We tested our site prototype using InVision and UserTesting. Our client was unsure of the events section functionality, but we were able to test our idea and provide proof that the design would work for real users.
Social Media Plan
This strategy covers the brand relaunch in the midst of COVID-19 as well as the differences of in- and out-of-season online community engagement. The goals were to provide the client with a baseline schedule that would help increase engagement, make posting easier, and lead the way for brand alignment.
This strategic approach was to build anticipation within the community for the brand reveal and make DCC's positioning around COVID-19 very clear. It was important that the client did not seem to be capitalizing on a global pandemic to make money on new merch. Instead, the goal was to position the rebrand as something for the DCC community to look forward to and see as a source of hope for the future in uncertain times.
It was key to distinguish between in- and out-of-season social media strategies because driving social media engagement around Dayton Cars and Coffee events in the off-season would be confusing for viewers. The goal for the weekly out-of-season plan was to be flexible and efficient for the client by leveraging community content and industry news. The main goal for the biweekly in-season plan was to center engagement around DCC events.
In order to support the client further, our team encouraged use of the Car Meets App, Instagram and Facebook engagement tools, Facebook Messenger automated message responses, and a mobile-optimized "/links" website page to bolster community engagement.
The final stage of this project included revising, presenting the final designs to the client, and preparing files for development. The coronavirus outbreak brought several communications issues as we closed out this project.
In the midst of COVID-19, our team recommended our client consider a "Drive-through DCC" concept that would follow travel restrictions and continue the biweekly meetup rhythm. The client would go live on social media and chat with visitors about their cars as they drive up, hand them their coffee, sell merch, and collect donations in support of Greater Dayton.
This project was my first experience working with a group to design for a real client. One takeaway is that it isn’t enough to delegate and manage people as an Art Director; you have to inspire and create a unified vision. Secondly, adaptability and resilience are two learned traits that are necessary in the design field. Things shift constantly with creative projects, and design leaders must be able to take these challenges head on and find joy in frequent changes.