A small team of French designers toiled evenings and weekends to bring Mélanie F’s universe and products to digital live.
Project: Mélanie F – Web: melanie-f.com/en/
Designer: Lionel Durimel – Web: wmnvm.com
Duration: 3+ weeks | People involved: 3 | Total hours: Lots of overtime
Great web experiences are not the sole domain of the big agencies with vast resources and financial power. Creating a great web presence is all about a passion to succeed. It doesn’t matter if you are a solitary soul or an army of talent, it is the will to express and create that takes precedence.
This is perfectly demonstrated by the creative talents of the latest Design Diary protagonists. The Mélanie F Lookbook is the work of a small team of dedicated French designers and developers. One art director, one creative developer and one motion designer, who were all working full-time at different agencies, decided to work on the project in their free time. This meant a lot of late nights and long working weekends. But, it was all worth it as designer Lionel Durimel reveals, “It was an incredible journey, and we honestly did not expect so much good feedback.”
The Mélanie F Lookbook 14/15 tells you the story of the new collection of slippers for children, immersing you inside Mélanie’s universe. What was the end goal for Lionel and the others? “What we wanted to achieve, and what we kept in mind as baseline, was to make the website as beautiful as possible, trying to give life to every single slipper, and also bringing Mélanie’s spirit in every detail of the website.”
“One art director, one creative developer and one motion designer, who were all working full-time at different agencies, decided to work on the project in their free time”
The latest Mélanie F Lookbook is not the first, it all started the previous year and it proved to be the catalyst for the current design, “Last year we launched the very first Autumn/Winter 2013/2014 collection with a new design. We did our photoshoot using two children, where we had to work with certain challenges, such as finding an atmosphere that reflects the brand’s colours. Using children for a photoshoot with strict time limits is an added complication. Once the atmosphere was obtained, we realised that we hadn’t sufficiently highlighted the product, which were slippers, on the first version of Mélanie F’s website. So, for the new Autumn/Winter 2014/2015 collection, we focused on highlighting the slippers.”
Large-scale projects typically follow a set pattern, but smaller teams that are working on small-scale projects get to choose a far less rigid path. The interaction between a designer and client can be far more personable. “We are more like an artisanal production, a human structure,” Lionel explains. “I’ll remind you that we were working with handcrafted leather products. “Because we were working from different locations, regular written and telephone exchanges were needed between us throughout the project to ensure follow-up.
“At the end of the initial briefing, I already had a precise and clear idea in mind about the setting that I wanted. Once I presented my ideas to [Melanie] she was charmed. “In return, she asked that the Lookbook be as colourful as the collection she designed. We wanted to create a coherent and happy universe, where the future viewers and potential buyers would be immersed in Mélanie F’s world.”
What was it that charmed the client? Lionel believed that it was a combination of his ideas evolving from the previous year, with a focus much more on the product. “The initial idea took time to emerge as we had to avoid repeating our previous mistakes from the 2013/2014 collection. We absolutely had to come up with a unique angle to represent the slippers. “Our goal was to present them in the best light possible. The end result is visible on the website. The arrangement marks a substantive change from other shoe websites, where feet and legs are brought to the fore. As children are active and constantly in motion we wanted the viewer to have a sense of their dynamism and energy.
“To indent this idea of movement and childhood, we used wired primitive forms: triangle, circle, square and parallax”
“Several shots were made because the first ones did not show enough of the notion of movement. We discarded the first of them as they failed to highlight the adherence of the slippers. We were pleased to have settled on the best angle for their display by the end of the shoot. At that point we had the desire to place slippers on the side to respect a one-page scroll. To indent this idea of movement and childhood, we used wired primitive forms: triangle, circle, square and parallax. To reinforce the message we used the first letters of the names of slippers as a way of learning the alphabet eg B for Bastien and V fo Victoria.”
The visual discovery and presentation of a product is key to how it is viewed. Julien Renau, the developer on the project gives a quick insight into how the frontend and backend were brought together. “One thing we can be proud of on this project is the relation between design inspiration and code. We work closely and this is how we like to do. All our visual decisions were taken to serve the final experience.
“What we wanted was to tell a story, let people discover Mélanie’s universe. In fact, the sound, the smooth navigation, the shapes moving, the letter animations, are here to emphasise our story around the slippers. This website is a good example of design and code working together in the same direction.”
“The real challenge was, how to drive people from the Lookbook to the store. Because at the end, this is what we want people to do”
When it came to coding there were a few back-end challenges to contend with to ensure a smooth operation as Julien explains, “The biggest coding challenges were definitely not back-end related. We basically do not have a backend for the Lookbook. All our content is static, and the dynamic part is handled by the store. “Our real challenge was, how to drive people from the Lookbook to the store. Because at the end, this is what we want people to do. The user flow we came up with was to let people enjoy the experience and let them, at the end, buy our slippers. In the meantime, we obviously faced some front-end challenges, especially about image size for our sprites animations. I think that we did pretty well, and the final result looks like what we wanted.”
Trust in the people behind the build of a website is critical. When the people involved say they will deliver, they need to deliver. Therefore it’s very telling how dedicated the team behind the Lookbook are as they are still on hand to help, even two years after taking on the project, “We’ve been advising and assisting Mélanie in the development of her brand for two years now. Advice on marketing networks, print marketing, design (packaging) and store management were provided to her. We remain available to promote her company. Her trust in us allows us unfettered creative freedom, and that’s what we appreciate in her!”