Waaaay back in early 2008, I was hired by these wonderful people to do this. Now 2008 may not seem like a long time ago, but in internet years, it’s a lifetime. Web designers are born and die in the span of 4 years. Not really. In any case, I was quite the newbie back then, and the intertubes were fairly new to me, having only done print design at that point. Denny & Priscilla (owners of the Captain’s Coffee) took me out to eat at a Mexican restaurant in Kernersville, NC, and said that they believed in me. They wanted to hire me to redesign their already-busy ecommerce website, upon which their entire business depended.
You can read this post to see how things went back then [spoiler alert: they went well], but we’re going to move forward a bit. Denny was an airline captain, and one of his navigators was a caricature artists on the side. One day, his artist/navigator buddy did an impromptu caricature of Captain Denny, and gave it to him as a gift. Denny and Priscilla loved it so much that they had me transmogriphy that pencil drawing into a corporate logo. Once that happened, it was clear that we had a full brand design on our hands. The kookiness of that grin just lends itself to messy coffee stains, and I had the idea of making the business card (you can see it at the top of this post) look like it had been used as a coaster. We also did a refrigerator magnet version, which they give out to first-time customers.
As you can probably imagine, with their website being my first large-scale website (technically, this was my first website), it wasn’t destined to stay unchanged for decades. I’m actually pretty proud that it lasted as long as it did! Sometime in late 2010/early 2011, Denny & Priscilla started tossing around the idea of making the website “more visual and less word-focused”. Their clientele was steadily growing beyond the retired hobbiest crowd, and was beginning to draw a younger, more web-savvy group of customers, so Denny & Priscilla wanted to innovate to stay ahead. That is very cool, and very rare.
If you’re a business owner, you probably think you have a firm grasp of what your customers want from you. If you spend much time on the phone with clients, you begin to have a sense of what to do to make them happy. However, we all have blind spots, and we all assume things that go unspoken, which means that even the most customer-aware business owner can still benefit from outside help. In this case, I created a customer survey which was posted on the website and sent out via email to all Captain’s Coffee customers which asked customers what they wanted from a green coffee seller, what their shopping habits are, what they do when they visit the site, and many more questions. The response was overwhelming! Nearly everyone responded to the survey, and we learned a lot. Some responses were expected, but many were different than we all expected, which goes to show the value of starting a website redesign with a customer survey. You don’t really know what people like unless you ask them!
Once we had the survey results, I worked at merging the customer expectations with Denny & Priscilla’s goals as owners. The most important thing was to make the site work the way customers expect it to work. That makes for a great user experience. The second thing which I added onto that primary goal was setting up the company to grow into the next decade. You can visit the Captain’s Coffee website here, or read on to see images of the site.
I’m happy to say that the new Captain’s Coffee website is a hit, both with my customers, and my customers’ customers. I suppose in the case of the customer that own coffee roasting businesses, this website could even be a hit with my customers’ customers’ customers, and if said customers work better because of the yummy freshly roasted coffee, then you could even say that it’s a hit with my customers’ customers’ customers’ boss’s customers. Right?
Now the story doesn’t end there, because shortly before I finished the new website, my brother Ben and his wife Heather (who happens to also be my sister in law at the same time) started helping Denny & Priscilla out with occasional bag-filling, shipping, and other various and sundry tasks. Well, guess what happened! Ben and Heather (B&H) are now the new owners of the Captain’s Coffee, while Denny & Priscilla (D&P) are finally able to retire away to Bald Head Island, often-visited place for coffee cupping retreats and great fishing.
I think it’s pretty neat that back in 2008, none of us knew that we were working to set up my brother & sister for blessing. The system is ironed-out, working smoothly, and D&P are able to hand off a long list of happy customers to B&H. I’m glad to have been a part of the whole thing.