Help out Helen

So Help out Helen is an experiment....

I've been working on launching a startup called Daisy for the last year or so and have been running into a lot of challenges.

Several friends and mentors recommended that I read The Startup Owner's Manual by Steve Blank and Bob Dorf (and I highly recommend!)

Reading the manual, I realized the importance of running some small experiments on my startup's fundamental hypothesis: that people want to go to a website to find ways to help people.

So, I quickly white-boarded some wireframes and lo and behold we have Help out Helen.

Help out Helen is still just a prototype, but I'm currently using FreeCodeCamp to learn how to build it... or at least get started :-P

Here's the prototype for you to click around. I'd love to hear your feedback!

Daisy

Some ideas are too complicated to easily articulate to the average person. Not only do most website visitors read only 20% of the text they encounter, but they also read at a 7th or 8th grade level.

Furthermore, the mechanisms and processes behind many applications today are quite complex and may overwhelm the customers their founders are attempting to attract.

Daisy had this very problem. Daisy is a local economic trading system that uses the blockchain for its mutual credit system.

Sound like gibberish?

If it does, you're not alone. Very few consumers understand blockchain, let alone have heard of it, and words like "local economic trading system" don't sound fun or welcoming.

So when it came to branding this system, I wanted a name that was inviting and different from its competitors. I wanted colors that were fun and playful. And in terms of the language on the website, it had to be clear, simple, and engaging.

For Daisy, we wanted a logo that stood out from the super modern, simple logos that are trending right now.

We wanted something that represented the grass-roots spirit of Daisy.

 
 

The logo is playful, inviting, and helps the user understand right away what Daisy is about.

When it came to creating the website, we wanted a video that showed people helping each other out and trading services, but that it wasn't immediately feasible due to budget constraints. So instead, I created simple gif as a placeholder:

When designing the application, we had to make it immediately clear how Daisy benefits the user.

I designed three introductory screens that make Daisy easy to understand:

I then designed diagrams to help early adopters understand the basics of how Daisy works. These are displayed prominentley on Daisy's website:

Daisy is still a work in progress, but you can learn more and sign up for updates on the website:

Interested in working with me? I'd love to hear from you.

 

 

Lynn Finley Coaching

Lynn Finley came to me in need of a website that she wasn't afraid to share. She had created a website with another company and used an online freelance service to design a logo, but she wasn't satisfied with the results.

Lynn didn't feel that the site or her brand was appealing to her ideal audience: women in transition looking to connect with their inner selves. Lynn wanted a site that was soft, feminine and welcoming.

We played with several logo concepts and settled on a dandelion. Lynn loved that they symbolized growth, clarity, healing and radiance. Using the Lynn's completed Brand Workbook and her inspiration board, I crafted a brand that was both soft and sophisticated.

 
 

It was so much fun picking colors and fonts for Lynn. Once her brand was established, I helped Lynn find her voice and write a fresh About page. I also created fun images for her blog that compelled people to check it out.

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As part of setting up Lynn's blog, I also helped Lynn set up a Mailchimp account and created a template so that she could easily send her blog directly to her email subscribers.

 Social Media Header

Social Media Header

Finally, I created a Squarespace site that showcased Lynn's blog and services to potential clients. Every time Lynn or I log into her website, we find we both exclaim, "how pretty!" And that's the exact reaction she was hoping for.

Screenshots never do it justice, so I encourage you to visit Lynn at LynnFinleyCoaching.com.

After:

Before:

nterested in working with me? I'd love to hear from you.

Jenn Rahe Coaching

When Jenn Rahe first contacted me, she had just graduated from iPEC and was excited to launch her new business coaching executives. She knew a brand and website would play an integral role in establishing a strong client base, but she was discouraged by the quotes she received from design firms asking upwards of $8,000 - $10,000. This was beyond the reach of her new business budget.

At the conclusion of our first phone conversation, Jenn told me how happy she was that she found someone who could build her a compelling brand and website at an affordable price. She was also excited about my process. Jenn explained, "I work best with assignments, so this is going to be perfect for me." 

Shortly after that initial phone call, Jenn and I hit the ground running. She completed my brand workbook, It All Starts with You, and we spent a solid hour reviewing her workbook so that I knew exactly what she needed for her new business. Jenn explained that she takes a common-sense approach to her corporate coaching and she wanted a clean and concise website to reflect this methodology. 

I got to work right away with ideas for her logo. I enjoyed playing with the concept of balance, and Jenn loved it too. Here are the initial logo ideas I sent her way:

 
Jenn Rahe Logo concepts
 

Jenn chose the first idea but suggested a few changes. Once her logo, colors and typefaces choices were solidified, we had a style sheet to work off of as I created her website and brand collateral. 

 
 
 
 

Selfishly, what I enjoyed most with this project is how much I got to write. Jenn understood that she needed copy that focused on her clients, and what's in it for them. As part of her brand collateral, I created a one-page marketing document that explains how Jenn is uniquely suited to help her clients.

 
 

In just four weeks, Jenn and I created a brand and website that would make her a sought-after resource for executives and corporations. Jenn was thrilled with the results and so am I. A screenshot never adequately showcases a website, so I encourage you to visit JennRaheCoaching.com and see the whole site.

Interested in working with me? I'd love to hear from you.

Amy Snow Coaching

Teamwork. It's amazing what can be accomplished when people come together to achieve something great. When Amy Snow contacted me, she was looking for help creating a brand and website that would attract her target audience: college and professional athletes transitioning to a new career.

After researching her market, we came up with an awesome concept for her website: take photographs of athletes playing their sport and take photographs of them in their new professional role. Then blend those photos together. Amy partnered with photographer JJ McCleary and the results are pretty powerful:

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From our initial design meeting to the photos that were created and the slew of excited emails that I received, teamwork has been the common theme throughout this design project. Amy was so fun to work with. She was timely, responsive, and had fantastic ideas for promoting her site.

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Once we had finalized Amy's new brand, I re-branded her workbook: Redefine your Game.  Amy and I also created a mini workbook: Transitioning from an Athlete to a Thriving Career. This free guide is available on her website, and is packed with helpful information.

 
Amy Snow Freemium
 

Finally, I used all the content and collateral to build Amy's website. The site is packed with action shots, which not only appeal to her audience, but also highlight the positive impact that Amy has on her clients' lives. The screenshot below doesn't do it justice, so I encourage you to head on over to AmySnowCoaching.com and check it out for yourself.

When I look at the final product, I see that Amy's brand not only reflects teamwork through the sporty colors, fonts and photography, but teamwork was also a huge part of making her brand and website come to fruition.  I'm grateful I had the opportunity to team up with Amy to turn a vision into reality.

Interested in working with me? I'd love to hear from you.

National Short Track Alliance

When John contacted me he already had an established brand, but needed help creating graphics as well as the website he was envisioning.

I helped John beef up his branding, created several new logos for his subsidiary companies, and created a 30+ page style guide for the NSTA and its subsidiary companies and their graphics. Here's an overview of John's branding:

 
 

In addition to graphics and branding, I created John's website, Nationalshorttrackalliance.com to his exact specifications. The screen shots don't do the site justice, especially given the fact that the homepage header features of a video of whizzing race cars... it's best just to take a look at the site. 

Overall, working with John was an awesome learning experience and resulted in his dream website. He pushed me way outside of my comfort zone as a designer, which is always a good thing.

Interested in working with me? I'd love to hear from you.

Spot Freight

Spot Freight hired me as to assist with a $5M software application for this fast-growing freight logistics company.

Spot Freight had been working with a group of developers, but there were many inconsistencies that were making their software difficult to use by their employees.

This project was an example of the importance of completing UX research long before writing a single line of code. Unfortunately I was brought on a bit too late in the process, as most of the software had already been developed. However, I was able to suggest ways to improve the user interface to improve the experience for the end users.

This report shows screen designs to improve efficiency and easy of use.

Interested in working with me? I'd love to hear from you.

The Indianapolis Business Journal

 
 

Here's a common scenario: A business is born. They build a website. They put everything they think their audience wants on that website. They monitor the website and make sure it's running ok. End of story.

Then you ask the users of that website some basic questions about the website: "What does so and so company do?" "How do you find so and so on their website?" "How do you accomplish objectives a, b, c on this website?"

Oftentimes the results of a heuristics evaluation (what I described above) are astonishingly poor. As it turns out, the minds that create websites, are very different from the minds that consume them.

That's where someone like me comes in. I identify the target audience of a business, then using specific methodology, I determine if the product resonates with the business's target audience. If it does not, I then recommend steps the business can take to improve.

Here's an example of a heuristics evaluation I performed for IBJ.com:

Interested in working with me? I'd love to hear from you.