Case Study: Forge explores e-commerce with Red Canoe redesign

Case Study by Stussy Tschudin RGD, Managing Partner, Forge Media + Design


Forge Media + Design worked closely with Red Canoe over a seven month period to revamp their existing e-commerce site. The goal for the project was to improve the overall functionality of the site by making the user interface more visually appealing and easier to navigate while also developing a customized CMS that would allow for easy content updates in the future. 


Length of Project: 7 months


Client: Red Canoe (established in 1999), designer of clothing and accessories with authentic Canadian heritage feel 


Forge was asked to work with pre-disposed design recommendations, but the team was still encouraged to add a creative flare to bring the overall vision together. It was clear that Red Canoe had an established brand image and that image was reflected in their products and existing catalogue, but the website was lacking the same identity. Forge set out to ensure the branding was captured in all areas of the new e-commerce site.




Red Canoe appeals to a broad demographic. Their customers are determined by a common love for the outdoors and the heritage feel of the brand. Therefore, the site redesign needed to capture the story behind the brand in a way that would appeal to the widest demographic possible.



The content of the Red Canoe site is divided into three main components:


1. Product

Product pages are updated on an ongoing basis as new products are added to the lineup or others are removed. The products featured on the home page are also constantly revamped to keep a fresh look on the site at all times. 



2. Blog

We recommended a blog section that would ideally be updated directly by the client on a weekly basis. We communicated the importance of regular content updates to foster engagement among the site's audience. 



3. About Us / Contact Info

These sections do not require regular updates as they likely will not change more than once a year. For that reason these pages were left out of the CMS - instead, Forge will provide support on an as-needed basis to make updates when necessary. 



Design Process

Initial research for the project involved an intensive analysis of other e-commerce sites and various competitors. Forge looked at how these sites approached design from a functional perspective and established common practices from within the e-commerce industry as a whole. The goal was to ensure the usability of the new site was consistent with industry standards and best practices. For this part of the site, we customized an install of Woo Commerce, an e-commerce option which allowed us to stay within the visual direction established for the website as a whole. 


There were two main challenges with this project. The first was to find an e-commerce engine that would work well with the client’s approach and to make sure it could be integrated well. The second challenge was to find a way to display all the various products in a format that can be easily updated by the client. This involved setting standards on image sizing and positioning to achieve consistency and creating a custom built CMS solution to address the client's specific requirements. 


Red Canoe was quite involved throughout the entire redesign process. Elements were approved at various stages and their team was heavily involved in the user testing phase.






Forge has received positive feedback from Red Canoe regarding this project. According to Dax Wilkinson, founder of Red Canoe, online sales have increased exponentially since the new site went live.


“We are very happy with the result,” said Mr. Wilkinson. “Our goals were met and we have established a strong professional relationship with the guys at Forge.”

Forge has encouraged the Red Canoe team to continue working on various elements of the site to improve functionality and sales. “We will continue to produce imagery in order to keep the site fresh as Forge has directed,” said Mr. Wilkinson.


Designer Takeaways

Forge believes there are always lessons to be learned from every project. Here are three general designer takeaways:

  1. Come up with a proper plan before jumping into design. Creating a clear strategy, flowcharts and other planning materials first will make the design easier to implement and help avoid having to redo design elements during the development stage.
  2. Design smart. In the case of this project, the importance of establishing the consistent image size and positioning was key to the overall look and functionality of the site. Keep the end user in mind. This refers to both the customer and client.
  3. Keep the client informed throughout the entire process. Don’t let there be any surprises or questions left unanswered at the end.


Client Takeaways

  1. Involve the designer in the project as early as possible. There is a lot of preparation that takes place before the design is developed. Involving the designer early ensures smooth completion.
  2. Ask to be kept in the loop along the way. This ensures a constant dialogue is happening between the designer and the client.
  3. Make sure content is supplied as efficiently as possible. This will shorten the project time and will prevent any needless delays.


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