Archive for the ‘design’ Category

Rebranding – Part 1

December 31, 2008

Building Vertical Communities

Single Artisan, Product Focused Website

In November 2006, we launched the terrakeramik.com online marketplace to introduce a single artisan, Terra Keramik of Switzerland, to the North American marketplace. Because we represented exclusively Terra Keramik, we created the initial website under the Terra Keramik brand with a focus on its 12 tableware products. The initial online marketplace was organized around beverageware, dinnerware, and a section called studio.

Business Challenges

We faced several business challenges with that product centric approach. For example, to launch the Terra Keramik coffee beverageware in North America, we had to build a premium brand from ground zero that appealed to the professional and home barista markets. We wanted to differentiate ourselves from the numerous online stores that sell $5 white and brown, machine-made, porcelain coffee cups displayed on “catalog pages” with little information about the product and no other subject relevant content or advice.

Rich, Relevant and Interactive Content

We wanted to provide useful information about the product, show how the products are used by professionals and home consumers, and provide a rich, interactive browsing and buying experience with relevant information about the entire coffee trade (growers, roasters, baristi, cafes, consumers). In effect, we wanted to build vertical online communities without duplicating the content and features already offered by successful online coffee communities such as coffeegeek, home-barista, coffesnobs, baristaexchange, and coffeed. We wanted to provide some of the basic and necessary information and tools that these much larger communities may lack, may be hard to find, or present them in a more user-friendly format.

Multiple Artisans, Vertical Communities

In late 2007, about a year after launching the Terra Keramik tableware, we introduced a second Swiss artisan, Glasi Hergiswil and its lead-free, mouthblown crystal glass products, to the North American market. This was followed by the launch of Café Kultur of Germany and its handcrafted espresso accessories. We now faced a third business challenge, how to convert from our online marketplace representing a single artisan with few products, to multiple artisans with potentially hundreds of products, each with its own distinctive brand and product lines. It reinforced our desire to build vertical communities and also compelled us to start thinking about creating an independent brand that would represent and support multiple artisans.

Rebranding – Part 1

In the summer of 2008 we began to organize our online marketplace around four vertical communities:

  • Coffee & Tea
  • Wine & Beer
  • Dining
  • Home Décor
  • The following screen shots show the terrakeramik.com online marketplace as of December 2008, organized around the above vertical communities.

    Home Page

    Home Page with neutral gray, top navigation bar showing the 4 communities and the studio (about us, etc.) tab.

    Coffee & Tea

    Coffee & Tea Community, highlighted in green on the top navigation bar. Pages with a 3-column CSS layout.

    Wine & Beer

    Wine & Beer Community, highlighted in red on the top navigation bar. Pages with a 3-column CSS layout.

    Dining

    Dining Community, highlighted in orange on the top navigation bar. Pages with a 3-column CSS layout.

    Home Décor

    Home Décor Community, highlighted in light blue on the top navigation bar. Pages with a 3-column CSS layout.

    Studio

    Studio tab, highlighted in cobalt blue on the top navigation bar. Pages with a 3-column CSS layout.

    My Account

    My Account section, accessible with the “Account” button above the top navigation bar. Pages with a 2-column CSS layout.

    Registry

    Gift and Wedding Registry section, accessible with the “Registry” button above the top navigation bar. Pages with a 3-column CSS layout.

    Stay tuned for details on building out the vertical communities

    We’re BAAACK!!!

    October 21, 2008

    We’ve been busy the past 6 months growing and expanding our online marketplace at terrakeramik.com and although we continue to be busy (especially with the holiday season only a few weeks away), we are excited to share with you some of the things we’re doing on this blog. We’ll be posting in the next few days, so check back! Thanks.

    Honorable mention in eCommerce contest

    October 3, 2007

    For all the time we put into creating our online marketplace and the website that supports it, for all the late nights and weekends, for learning how to code using PHP, javascript, HTML and CSS, it’s nice to get a little recognition. Read on.

    webassist2.jpg

    WebAssist announced the winners of its 2007 “Do More / Win More” contest, and terrakeramik.com was awarded honorable mention (4th place) in the “best eCommerce” category.

    WebAssist is a leading vendor of software solutions for the Adobe Macromedia Dreamweaver platform. The contest was open to all websites that incorporate certain of WebAssist’s products. terrakeramik.com, running on an Apache/Linux/PHP 5/ MySQL 5 platform, leverages WebAssist’s eCart (shopping cart), DataAssist (database integration), Universal Email, Cookies Toolkit, Validation Toolkit (both client and server side form validation), and SecurityAssist (registration and authentication). WebAssist products are available for PHP, ASP, and ColdFusion. WebAssist’s product suite is supported by first-class tech support as well as professional services for custom implementations.

    WebAssist has some cool new products and tools, including a tool to help create CSS compliant websites in collaboration with Eric Meyer (recognized CSS guru), and tools to integrate Google apps, PayPal, Skype and PlayStream video.

    A thank you to WebAssist for recognizing our work!

    Valentine’s Day Chocolate Fondue

    February 7, 2007

    Here’s our suggestion for a Valentine’s Day surprise:

    A chocolate fondue served in probably the best fondue set on the market, comprised of a handcrafted fondue pot and matching plates, stainless steel burner and forks. Tested by Swiss fondue gourmands, this set qualifies as professional equipment.  To make you look like an expert, we’ll provide the recipe and cooking tips.  Enjoy!

    Terra Keramik creates the fondue pot and plates using clean, simple designs and rich, saturated glazes in eight funky colors. Each piece is accented in platinum and hand-signed by the artist.  Triple fired for maximum durability. Lead-free and cadmium-free glazes for an absolute food-safe finish. Dishwasher safe. Handcrafted in Switzerland since 1984.

    Functional design (and more) in beverageware

    February 1, 2007

    Felix Vogler, Founder and Creative Director of Terra Keramik, believes that good design should simplify and not complicate (read our interview with Felix Vogler). He creates exclusive beverageware and dinnerware using clean, simple designs and rich, saturated glazes in eight funky colors. Each piece is accented in platinum and hand-signed by the artist. Terra Keramik uses lead-free and cadmium-free glazes for an absolute food-safe finish. And to achieve maximum durability and easy care, the pieces are triple fired and dishwasher safe. The Terra Keramik tableware is handcrafted in Switzerland since 1984. All of that increases cost. But our beverageware is not for everyone.

    cappuccinoCups

    Our beverageware is for the serious coffee lover who values a cup that combines functional design, handcrafted quality and a certain “fun” factor. Baristas consider our cappuccino and espresso cups to have the proven shape, size and thickness to create a perfect cup of java. We aim to raise the bar for espresso and cappuccino cups to a level that has been achieved for espresso machines, grinders, tampers, etc. Because we believe that to truly enjoy the coffee experience, one should not compromise on the cup that holds the coffee and delivers it to your palate.

    dualEspresso cappuccinoCostanzo espressoDahinden

    If you are serious about coffee or espresso, and you plan to grind and brew at home, you could easily spend $600 to $2,000 on equipment alone (read our equipment and tools guide). On the low end, a cheap burr grinder will cost $100, a tamper $30 and an espresso machine $500. On the “pro-sumer” (aka light commercial) end, a nice burr grinder will cost $450, a tamper $30-$50 and an espresso machine $1,000-$1,800. Fresh roasted or pre-ground coffee retails for $12-$15 per lb. What we find is that many will (unknowingly?) compromise on the cup and buy an espresso or cappuccino cup that does not have the ideal shape, size and thickness to optimize enjoyment of the java. As a rule of thumb, budgeting around 10% for cups sounds reasonable, which would translate to $60-$100+ for cups (assuming the home equipment costs $600-$2,000 as described above). Our espresso cup retails for $28 and our cappuccino cup is $32 (10% discount on sets of 4).

    We draw an interesting comparison to the wine industry. Riedel Crystal designs the shape of their wine glasses according to the character of the wine and is considered the inventor of the functional wine glass. Riedel believes that “a positive approach to life is linked to pleasure and enjoyment. Pleasure is given by our senses like sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste.” Functional design has become a strong element of the Riedel brand. Riedel has raised the bar for wine glasses. We would like to educate the coffee and espresso consumer and create the same awareness and appreciation for functional design in coffee beverageware as Riedel has done for wine glasses.

    Terra Keramik extends the value of the functional design by handcrafting the beverageware in Switzerland (Riedel’s best-selling Vinum wine glasses are machine made) using only the highest-quality tools and materials. And it adds to the enjoyment of the espresso or coffee by creating the cups in 8 funky (retro) colors: green, yellow, orange, red, brown, light blue, white and black. Each cup is accented in platinum and signed by the artist. And Terra Keramik creates its beverageware using energy-saving clays (reduces energy consumption by 20%) and glazes that exceed the FDA requirement for lead and cadmium content and are absolutely lead and cadmium free (the FDA permits trace amounts in tableware).

    Good functional design. Rich, saturated glazes in funky colors. Quality handcrafted in Switzerland. Eco-friendly.

    redCappuccino