Rainfall.co / 2022 Eleven James Case Study
Rainfall was asked by Eleven James to modernize their web experience in order to appeal to a younger professional audience. The agency collaborated closely with the client’s team to create a visual language that was both powerful yet familiar, breaking the often cold attitude of luxury brands.
Bringing Luxury to the Masses
Eleven James marries luxury products with the sharing economy by offering its members access to a wealth of high-end timepieces for a low monthly fee.
They don’t have to spend thousands or tens of thousands of dollars to be stuck wearing a single Rolex or Hublot repeatedly. Instead, for just a fraction of that expense a new watch appears in the mail every three months, creating a dynamic approach to style that fits the season as well as the latest fashion trend.
What They Did
Eleven James approached Rainfall to refresh their online experience to create greater appeal for their young professional audience. They worked closely with their team to develop a visual language that felt bold and familiar, breaking the typically aloof attitude of other luxury brands. In tandem, an innovative interaction model that sequenced information like the ticking of a second hand pushed Eleven James’s brand story forward, and made membership conversion and product selection a sinch.
What They Created
- An online product experience for Desktop and Mobile devices
- Associated online ad placements
- A series of print advertisements
A Friendly, Familiar Tone
Eleven James is about accessible luxury, so the team started by interviewing potential customers about what drives them to or from particular luxury brands.
They found that the traditional approach of creating aspirational, fictional worlds induced eye-rolling and blank stares. Audience members instead wanted messages that were inclusive and matter-of-fact, with the understanding that timepieces regardless of type are meant to be worn and fit into their guardian’s everyday life.
These conversations provided clear marching orders: The team ditched brooding black backgrounds in favor of a cleaner, more welcoming white palette that used blue as an accent, and opted for spare use of larger type.
The design also referenced the Swiss heritage of timepiece craftsmanship through a structure rooted in the International style. The team elected to use various weights of Univers, and Akzidenz-Grotesque in large, unapologetic sizes that enhanced readability, and built the individual layouts with a clean, mathematical grid that objectively simplified the presentation of page content through uniform construction.
The timepieces have enough embellishments, Rainfall felt that the typefaces should not. They chose grotesque serifs that promote clear, concise messaging and create impact through contrasting sizes and weights.
Just as time is divided so is the grid system they employed. Single columns, the smallest units of width, are referred to as “seconds,” which can be combined to create a larger block they call a “minute.” The remaining page width, even larger still, is an “hour.” This flexible system of layout maintains uniformity of every page while allowing for variation when presenting information.
As part of Eleven James’s more modern aesthetic and desire to convey concepts simply and effectively, a series of icons were created to explain variations in watch designs, as well as larger concepts including timepiece selection, care, and shipping.
The UX Approach
The idea of renting a watch may seem simple, but after interviewing prospective customers they found that selecting a timepiece only came easy to those who knew a fair amount about luxury watch brands.
For those new to the space, finding a suitable watch included two decisions: how much they were comfortable spending monthly, and whether they preferred modern, classic, or exuberant styling.
Another challenge was the need to communicate a tiered approach to membership. Timepieces were grouped into multiple tiers based on their value. Each tier included three options, each at a unique monthly price.
Rainfall’s solution was to display a representative example of a timepiece from each tier along with the lowest associated monthly price.
A more detailed explanation of pricing was reserved for visitors who had elected to explore the available time pieces and their monthly cost.
Explaining How It Works
For many in their focus group, access to luxury watches at a low monthly price felt too good to be true. Their response was to build consumer trust by communicating Eleven James’s passion for the collection and care of unique timepieces. The agency then explained how Eleven James works to share that passion by pairing individuals with watches they’d never dreamt they would wear.
To demonstrate this within the experience, a large selection of watches is narrowed down as the user interacts, metaphorically personalizing the selection process to each visitor.
The Eleven James membership experience is one-part concierge service, one-part advanced logistics, with timepieces checked, cleaned, and sized to a member’s wrist before being delivered to their front door. For visitors still skeptical of the company’s mission, this page explains each step of the process through bold visuals and clear, concise motion design.
Tiers of Membership
While the tiers of membership sounded complex, they worked to communicate the various levels as an abundance of choice by making the browsing process simple.
Visitors can fly through each tier with a simple scroll, or navigate quickly to a particular tier using a tabbed approach.
The gift of an Eleven James membership is more than just a fresh luxury watch every quarter. Membership is the gift of access to a vast library of timepieces as well as exclusive events.
The gifting page allowed individuals or businesses to explore the benefits of each membership tier in order to select the option most appropriate for its recipient.
Large typography communicates the most important information, while beautiful imagery offers enticement and education.
Loaning Your Own Watch Into the Ecosystem
An alternative option for members is to loan a personal timepiece into the Eleven James collection.
This allows others to experience quality timepieces that might otherwise be sitting on a shelf while generating monthly revenue for the original owner.
A trustworthy loan process was imperative, so we used succinct messaging and clearly defined steps to make the procedure transparent. To add to this simplicity, users enter their watch’s information by uploading simple photos of their timepiece and completing a visual questionnaire about its condition.
A Portable Collection
A key vehicle for new signups is word of mouth, so they made it easy for members to show off to their friends. The entire Eleven James experience is responsive, meaning that browsing the collection, signing up, and selecting watches is easy regardless of the time or place.
Rainfall’s partnership with Eleven James kept this project ticking. Constant design reviews combined with rapid feedback loops ensured a steady pace and allowed for rapid deployment for testing. An iterative design strategy helped us learn from real customers and create an experience that drew new customers in and kept existing ones engaged
Rainfall designs brand experiences, from digital products, interfaces, and websites, to alluring visual identities.
They love both coasts, and have studios in New York City and Seattle where they build delightful and effective solutions for a wide range of clients.