Handbook and survey

Client
SRG Hardscapes
Role
Print & web designer
Duration
April - July, 2016
Tools
InDesign, HTML/CSS
The owner of a Houston hardscapes company, Mark, approached me with a problem: they were selling a concrete overlay that was custom designed — decisions of color, grout, texture, etc, were completely up to the customer. And they needed a better way of (1) getting their customer to make these decisions and (2) informing their customers of any design constraints before their decisions were made. Usually these decisions were hashed out with the project managers on the job site, but this could lead to miscommunication with the customer. 
We brainstormed a solution where we could use technology to do pre-homework for the project managers. In their own time, customers could now... 
  • Educate themselves about the product
  • Choose the features that fit their needs
  • Use images to reduce mind-reading
Most of my time was spent in the creation of the handbook. It needed to do the job of educating the customer on the product and showing them comprehensive options. It needed to be viewable on tablets (used by the project managers) but primarily on the computer screens popular with the demographic. We decided against a website in this early phase. 
The final product was an interactive PDF created in InDesign, which allowed for in-document navigation and embedded links. Each picture was numbered so that the customer could reference it later, in the survey or to the project manager. Since it would be viewed primarily on the screen, the document was designed in landscape. I also designed a minimalist version that could be printed out.

The Survey

The survey used many of the same images from the handbook to ask customers what their preferences were. Survey results were collected in a spreadsheet in Google Docs, which the project managers were already familiar with. It was important to me that neither the project managers nor the customers would have to master new technology for this to be successful.
"We've had wonderful success in using what you and I created, and it's really transformed our processes out on jobs. It's been great. Thanks again for your help!"
– Mark

Closing thoughts

I love checking in with clients because you never really know how a design will work until it lands in the hands of its users. (Also I love happy clients.) Mark had those nice words to say, but he also mentioned eventually combining the handbook/survey into a website that wouldn't need to be downloaded in the same way as a PDF, which I think is a valid direction to take this — and something we had discussed in the initial planning. 

In a sense, Mark is collecting user data to begin the next iteration. I thoroughly enjoyed taking part in this initial brainstorm and design. There was a clear problem that needed to be solved, and that made it really exciting.