A Fashion Brand with an Irreverent Sensibility
BB Dakota is a women’s fashion brand that was founded in 2005 with an irreverent sensibility. Their clothing is designed for women who live life on their terms and want to look good doing it. They believe that fashion is the means to an unpredictable end and their mission is to be their consumers’ accomplice in life.
BB Dakota is a brand that loves clothes but they love the women who wear them more. To them, “Glamour is looking exquisite & not giving a fuck” and they engaged us to help them better tell this story through a new flagship eCommerce website that brings content and commerce together.
Understanding the Brand & the Consumer
Like all of our projects, our goal from the start was to align ourselves with who BB Dakota is as a brand and to identify opportunities we could leverage to better express their positioning. To do this, we set ourselves up as an extension of their team and conducted research and working sessions to define key considerations.
For BB Dakota, Content is Everything
One of the key insights we identified during our discovery was that BB Dakota’s marketing efforts are primarily focused on creating great content that is engaging, articulates their story, and drives consumer consideration. What we realized however, was that their current platform and the user experience didn’t do a good job delivering the “branded content” to users. We felt this could be greatly improved and focused on it while defining our strategy.
Their Consumer Expects More
To put it simply, the BB Dakota consumer is fickle, brand loyal, and wants authentic and relatable content. They’re intelligent young women who want to look chic, stay ahead of cultural trends, and don’t want to dig themselves into financial debt doing so. They’re also technically savvy and their browsing behaviors indicated that they like to view brand content as much they like purchasing products.
A Seamless Integration of Content & Commerce
Defining our eCommerce Strategy
Working closely with the product and content team at BB Dakota, we re-thought the site architecture and user experience with the consumer in mind. Based on our understanding of audience desires and the objectives of the brand, we defined a strategy for the eCommerce website that would turn the site into a digital destination that seamlessly integrates content and ecommerce.
This strategy was driven by the shared values and interests we found between the brand and their consumer. As a brand, BB Dakota creates great content and their consumers want great content. Along with this, BB Dakota wants to sell the experience of “living in clothes” and their consumers want to buy experiences.
The idea of seamless integration is one we didn’t take lightly. We wanted to make sure that anywhere on the site, users can engage in content pushes the products, positioning, and personality of the brand. We knew that if we could do this well, we would could improve metrics across the board and more specifically—time on site, return visits, engagement and email sign-ups, as well as push through to retailers.
Below are the key strategy pillars we considered when defining our strategy:
Facilitate Discovery & Establish Positioning
In a digital world that lacks differentiation when it comes to eCommerce, brands must find unique ways to position themselves. They must facilitate the discovery of their values, offerings and culture as well as enable consumers to find and purchase products on their terms through a delightful and unique branded experience. For BB Dakota, we felt their brand was set up to do this perfectly and we built our strategy around doing so.
Tell Stories & Provide Users Context
Stories motivate consumers and when stories are aligned with products, it helps consumers envision how the product will impact their reality. Immersive content that articulates the brand as well as provides context to the product can transform something typical into an engaging experience. This is exactly what we wanted to do for BB Dakota. We wanted to make the site more engaging in an effort to convert browsers into buyers.
Improve Product Presentation
Brands must think about how their consumer wants to engage with their product and what those expectations are when doing so. Product presentation is extremely important and when it comes to the web, brands need to articulate a substantial reason for a consumer to consider them. With this in mind, we brought video, photo, and editorial content together to express each product in a unique way that aligns with the desires of their consumer and meets their needs.
Bringing the BB Dakota Experience to eCommerce
Establishing our Design Direction & Visual identity
BB Dakota is more about the experiences you have in your clothing than it is the clothing itself. We wanted to take this brand principle and use it as inspiration for our design approach.
The new site is designed in a way that allows the personality of the brand to come through. BB Dakota is raw, refined, and beautiful and so is the design system of the new eCommerce experience. From its minimal elegance to bold typography and images, the design system is solely focused on highlighting the lifestyle of the brand and how it aligns with those that wear their clothing.
Interactions and animations bring the site to life in a way that is delightful and easy to use, similar to how the products are designed to be functional as well as beautiful.
Establishing Guidelines & Art Direction for Content
As part of our design overhaul, we worked with the team at BB Dakota to define standards regarding their art direction, photography, and content. Through numerous explorations, we landed on a visual guidelines that are flexible enough to provide variety across content, but is structured enough to create consistency and brand recognition.
A Home Page that Serves as a Content Hub & Gateway
When thinking about the homepage, we spent a bit of time considering where our users were coming from. Because a large portion of users were coming from blogs and social channels, we wanted to create an experience that promoted similar content to what pushed them to the site in the first place.
The home page (as well as the entire experience) is built using various components and layout modules that can be mixed and matched to tell seasonal stories, push new products, and highlight editorial content.
Telling Stories and Providing Context on the Product Listing and Product Detail Pages
When it comes to articulating a brand’s personality and story, things typically fall apart on the product listing and product detail pages. Because providing an “experience” was crucial to our strategy, we designed the PLP and PDP pages in a manner that continues to provide context and inspiration through things like videos, popular trends, collection call-outs, and engaging imagery.
Using Collections to Push Product as well as Culture
Each BB Dakota collection is unique and the products are designed to provide personality and utility for various occasions. Because of the differences from collection to collection, we realized that each collection page would need to tell a unique story and would require a different layout.
During our discovery phase, we also identified that the team at BB Dakota was going to use collections as their primary marketing objective moving forward so the pages would need to do more than push products... they would have to push culture as well.
With this in mind, we designed the collection pages in a non-traditional manner. We took inspiration from fashion magazines and editorial layouts to craft a system for creating collection pages that tells each one’s unique story by bringing content, craft, culture, and commerce together.
Crafting a Content Hub for Deeper Discovery
Throughout the new experience, content is highlighted across various pages making things feel seamless and connected. While this strategy is effective for providing context and facilitating discovery, we wanted to take things a bit further by establishing a “journal” for everything to be centrally located when it comes to BB Dakota’s brand marketing efforts.
“The Journal” section is a collection of stories, short films, photo journals, social content, and more that is easy to browse and reinforces BB Dakota’s brand driver “It’s Only Fashion.”
Site Features & Highlights
The new BB Dakota eCommerce website was built with details that matter. From utilities that make shopping more experiential to product browsing that encourages discovery and provides context, we pushed ourselves to create an experience that helps BB Dakota standout as well as stand for something.
Below are some of the features and highlights we brought to life on the site…
To provide a differentiated and elevated shopping experience to users, we implemented a utility to the product listing pages that allow users to not only search by typical methods like color or style, but by occasion as well.
This approach enabled us to not only help users find products for a specific situation, but also aligned them with the brand’s positioning.
Content Drives Commerce
Throughout the experience, we leveraged content such as videos, photos, and stories to provide deeper meaning to products and collections.
Video was a big focus for us and we wanted to leverage it throughout the site to not only provide personality—but to show how things wear, and fit as well.
Toolkits > Templates
The entire BB Dakota eCommerce website is built with “toolkits” instead of traditional “templates.” We created numerous modules and components that can be leveraged throughout the site to create differentiation from page to page.
While most “responsive” sites adapt based on device type or screen size, for BB Dakota we set it up so things can adapt based on content and context as well.
Built on Wordpress
Building a site of this nature on Wordpress was “no small feat.” From the integration of WooCommerce for eCommerce, to the customization of the backend to support the toolkits we developed, we pushed what’s possible.
Despite the project challenges in making their CMS solution work, we were able to deliver a management experience that is easy-to-use and scalable for brand growth.