Project Spotlight: Stampede Saddle Solutions

Most of my work comes from word of mouth referrals and “friends of friends”. As a designer, it’s really cool to connect with new clients simply because you impressed a mutual friend. In this particular case, my client found me due to a horse sale.

Jacquelyn, the owner of Stampede Saddle Solutions, originally contacted me a few years ago when I bought a horse that she used to own. She called me to discuss Vegas (or Lazer, as my mare was known to Jacquelyn) and tell me a little more about her history and quirks. We kept in contact over the last few years and when she decided to launch her saddle fitting business, she called me for a web development quote.

Let’s start off by telling you a bit about the business. Stampede Saddle Solutions is a Calgary-based saddle fitter and authorized dealer for Wintec & Bates saddles. Jacquelyn utilizes a system called the Port Lewis Saddle Fitting System, which is basically a fancy impression pad that allows her to see exactly where the saddle is sitting on the horse’s back, what pressure points it’s creating and if it bridges or gaps anywhere. Horse people will know that an improperly fitted saddle can result in a myriad of problems, including muscle atrophy, unbalanced gaits and in some cases… the unscheduled dismount of the rider when the horse says, “Nope, I don’t like this feeling. Get off. Now.”

Eating dirt is rarely a good time, which is why saddle fitters are so very important.

The initial plan was to create a rustic, pretty website in shades of wine red, havana, and black that would function as both an informational website and an online catalogue with the functionality to be extended to a full-fledged online store in the future. Jacquelyn also required a logo for her new business which would need to render properly for digital and print use.

As you can imagine, web design is a constantly evolving process and it’s very rare that the first version of the website ends up being the final version you see online. When I first began building the Stampede website, I went with a full screen layout. It looked good and it was functional, but it wasn’t very pretty. So I decided to experiment with an effect called “Passepartout”. For those who aren’t fluent in fancy French words, Passepartout is a frame or mat which is placed under the glass in a picture frame to add a nice border to the photo. In web design terms, this basically means we’re adding a frame to the website. It is very simple, but it gives the website a really interesting look. For Stampede Saddle Solutions, it was the missing piece that took the website from nice to perfect.

When it came to the logo, Jacquelyn provided a drawing of her tattoo and asked if I could incorporate it. I love personal touches like this, but I also love clients who give me ideas and let me run with them. Using the basic appearance of the tattoo, I re-drew it in Adobe Illustrator and simplified it a little to take it from interesting tattoo to a really recognizable logo. I paired it with a vintage Western looking font in the same wine red shade that we used on her website and came out with this great looking logo.

Once we had the logo finalized and the website functional, I was able to begin adding products to the catalogue. When it was all said and done, I think I loaded approximately 100 Wintec & Bates saddles and accessories, and organized them into sections for easy searching and readability. I disabled the shopping cart and price options, but left the functionality in place for the future e-commerce launch.  Per Jacquelyn’s request, I added a section for Used Saddles as well.

Of the entire project, I am most proud of how nice the home page turned out. That’s the first thing most visitors see when they click onto a website and it’s always very important that it looks and functions properly. In order to bring attention to the purpose of the website quickly, I utilized sliders that told the viewer about both the saddles and the fitting services. Just two sliders, but with eye-catching, high quality images and succinct text. Directly below the sliders are four boxes that link directly to the most important aspects of the website – saddle fitting, the saddle brands and the used saddle section.

Further below is another image banner with information about the Port Lewis Saddle Fitting System and a call to action, prompting the viewer to contact Stampede Saddle Solutions with any questions.

The turn around for this project was approximately four weeks, which is pretty standard for most of the websites I create. I’ve found that is time frame is generally very client-friendly, which means they can provide the information I need without having to rush or stress about it, while still allowing ample time for changes, invoicing and any little issues that tend to pop up when it comes time to transfer the website over. In this particular case, the transfer of this website took almost two full days just because there were so many products and my Internet isn’t always the best. As I’ve learned, technology seems to know when a deadline is looming and that’s when things don’t always go according to plan. In my next blog, maybe I’ll tell you about the time I broke an entire website while trying to transfer it… which is why back ups are so important.

Check out the finished project at http://www.stampedesaddlesolutions.com. Saddle fitters are hard to come by around Alberta, so you should probably bookmark this site. Tell Jacquelyn that I sent you. 🙂

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