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Monday, July 16, 2018

The case for case studies

The proof is in the portfolio.

The best way for a prospective client to understand the value you can bring to their business is by seeing work you’ve already done. Create a simple case study and learn how it can win you new business with this guide.

The Benefits

Before we dive into its components, let’s explore what regularly updating your portfolio can do:

1. Boost SEO. Regularly publishing content expands the relevant keywords Google associates with your site. This makes your site more discoverable to your audience.

"I've found that stagnation is a sales killer in the web design world, so keeping my content fresh and up to date with current trends is one of my top priorities. Keeping your content current is a good way to show your dedication to what you do. If I am constantly working to improve my skills, I want my clients to see that and feel confident that they will receive quality design services." - Melissa Black

2. Improve landings-to-leads ratio. Examples of your work helps clients envision their project in your past work, making the decision to hire you easier.


3. Increase your rates. If a client sees what you're capable of, they might be more willing to make an investment because they know what they're paying for.

4. Communicate your process.

"Case studies can help people who have never worked with a designer to understand my process. It onboards them before they even contact me. I write about my work in layman’s terms. This is really important because it helps them grasp my expertise—why I do what I do and how the relationship is going to work."Elena Potter

Case studies can help people who have never worked with a designer to understand my process.
— Elena Potter

How to Create a Case Study

Case studies are surprisingly simple, and comprised of only four key parts:

1. The brief. Select a project you completed and write an overview that covers:
     - What you were hired to do
     - Any historical context that may help paint a clear picture
     - What problems you were trying to solve

2. Your approach. Walk through how you tackled this project, including:
     - The steps you took to solving the brief
     - The different design and/or development problems and your approach to each
     - Any moments or challenges that caused you to change directions

3. Results. Show off the quantitative or qualitative results from your work. Some examples:
     - Search rankings or site traffic changes
     - Revenue or lead increase figures
     - Satisfied client testimonials, which provide an authentic touch

4. A visual: Tom Locke, of Noughts & Ones says,

"A visual element is really important. Make sure screenshots and mockups are included in addition to the ability for users to click through and visit the websites you reference." 


Here are a few examples of case studies in the wild:

The Beauty Shop
Nick Scola
Creative Squeeze
Riverstone Digital
Cheers Studios

If you're strapped for time or want to add more details later, start by creating a simple photo gallery to display your work like these Circle members:

Azai Studios
416 Media
Solmark Creative

Want more?

Circle members discuss case studies, cold calling, demo sites, and more in the Circle forum. 

This post's image was created by Barcelona-based designer and illustrator, Natalia Swarz. Dreamy color palettes, clean feminine lines, and whimsical detail define her signature style. As a freelancer, Natalia is committed to self-discipline. “Try to make a to-do list every morning, and reply to emails as soon as your able. Inbox zero is key!” 

Written by Erin Petree

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