Valerie Loh is a user experience designer, image curator, frontend developer, copywriter, and entrepreneur in Singapore
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Horlu

Instant and stylish websites for everyone

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Horlu is SaaS that turns business Facebook Pages into websites with a single click.

 
 
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The challenge

Horlu was created to appeal to micro businesses that are often one-man operations that rely heavily on word-of-mouth and social media marketing to drive businesses. Horlu approached me to create a brand persona that was approachable, relatable, and memorable. As yet another tech startup, how can Horlu shed the shackles of being classed as yet another techie solution that was too difficult for the time-starved and technologically challenged business owner?

 
 
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Our findings

To help Horlu stand out, we conducted our persona discovery workshop to help their stakeholders identify and articulate their ideal audience. We found that the service-centric businesses like personal training, door-to-door sales, and insurance fit the bill. Further research also revealed that most of these businesses do not have a website in place. Those that tried failed to finish building their websites despite using existing website builder solutions that were touted to be fast and easy to use. 

Through our focus groups and interviews, we discovered that most of the people who are using or have used but gave on their website builders found learning the user interfaces difficult. Furthermore, most of these solutions rely on gorgeous stock photographs or professionally selected fonts to bring their templates to life. Often, once the business owner swaps in his own photographs, the template simply does not look as appealing. 

 
 
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Brand design

These insights are the bedrock of Horlu's brand designs. After many careful rounds of experimentation, we created a moodboard that captured the friendly and fun personality the startup embodies. Straying away from the typical thin-font-cool-jewel-colors look that tech startups seem to favour, we crafted a distinctive pastel palette contrasted with a medium weight Futura font for headlines and body copy. The stark contrast gave Horlu a distinctive and unforgettable aesthetic that set it apart from other modern tech brand designs. 

 
 
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Each of the colour corresponds with a problem area that Horlu set out to solve. Green is for tech, yellow for business and financial concerns, pink is for design and aesthetics, and blue is the hero brand colour and subtle reference to the role Facebook plays in Horlu's technology.

 
 
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On the web

We built them a simple website that gave life a brand story that addressed these latent frustrations directly. Discordant color blocks with varying opacities evoke a sense of fun. The intentionally irregular layout was designed in hopes of illustrating the make-as-you-go nature of the products while intentionally straying from the highly polished and frankly, overused aesthetics their competitors seem to favor.  

 
 
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We wanted to craft a brand story that addressed these latent frustrations directly. In the first version of the website, we crafted bold headlines that seemed to border on  promising the impossible to whet appetites. Once we've gotten their attention, we wrote bite sized, jargon free chunks explaining how Horlu is not as ludicrous as it seems.  

 
 
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In the field

As a young startup, Horlu must attend huge networking events and tech conventions and summits to market the brand. During such events, countless name cards are often exchanged. We had to design a name card that would be memorable enough to prevent Horlu from being swallowed and forgotten by potential prospects in the great name card swap. To that end, we design 4 variations, each corresponding to a Horlu brand color and website and business concern. The result was a fantastic conversation starter at networking events and Horlu saw over 90% of their potential prospects reconnecting with them post-event. 

 
 
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Instagramable

For their social media, we crafted a tongue-in-cheek aesthetic that was a nod towards the colorful and food-centric culture in Singapore. We selected and shot iconic local everyday items and foods that were affordable yet still pricier than what Horlu would cost you on a daily basis when you subscribe. The end result was an adorable and distinct aesthetic that well-loved by the Horlu team and their followers alike. The local flavour also hints at their dialect-derived brand name.

I'm currently working the Horlu team to refine their product interface.