When someone dies there are many things to do, and this often comes at a time of deep personal sorrow when we feel least able to cope. Some may be familiar with the process already, whilst others will be encountering this for the first time. Either way, there are going to be many decisions to make, and certain procedures to understand. In the days when a sense of community was strong and families were close, there would be at least one family member who would know exactly what do and exactly what to ask for. And in most cases they would know exactly who to ask to provide the service. Organising a funeral seemed little more than common sense. But as time passes and a younger generation emerges, there is a sizeable body of people who may not know anything about the process at all. And this is the way I approached the new website for William Watson.
There were two main groups to satisfy here: the old Moray families who needed little more than a telephone number, and families who may have been new to the area and new to the funeral process. Migration to the area was still swelling and competition among directors was likely to be fierce. Mark Watson tasked me with creating a site that would satisfy and appeal to the savvy web user as well as offering reassurance to the older and more traditional members of the community. And building on this sense of community featured prominently in our minds.
William Watson had been serving the community for the best part of 40 years and this needed to come through in both the images and the copy. The proposed website would need a distinctive local dimension. This would provide a forceful challenge to the increasing volume of generic funeral franchises now entering the area. William Watson would provide a sensitive, hands-on approach to direction, and could adapt to the now diverse range of religious and secular needs. This needed to come out in the copy we produced in as succinct a way as possible. We had to avoid the usual audacious claims of conventional promotional copy. There could be no hard-sell here as this was a sensitive time for families and we were dealing with people and NOT sales. It was difficult task that required close collaboration with Mark, William and the team. This meant regular meets and discussions at their premises in Elgin and a stream of Q&As arriving from me by email.
The approach I took to redesigning the site arose from these meetings and discussions. Local landmarks would now be used in images to anchor William Watson in a firm local setting, and one that users would recognise from the word go. Doing so would offer reassurance, as did featuring shots of the staff themselves. Putting humanity before sales was crucial to the task and so I came up with slogans to that effect: William Watson was serving the needs of families and not sales.
I used a contemporary modular approach to the homepage, breaking the service down into as many constituent parts as possible. The service areas were separated into blocks featuring short teaser text with links to extended pages. This meant the user could read as much or as little as they required. Mark was also keen to have the website adapt fluidly to the various smartphones and tablets people were now using. His old was virtually unreadable on small screens, so I produced a responsive design that adapted successfully to each device. A soft, muted colour-scheme was decided on, but one that reflected their sensitive yet practical approach to direction. The red, white and black motifs were repeated in the colours of the local football club, identifying it even more with the local area.