One of the toughest challenges designers face when pitching prospective clients is winning over their trust and confidence. If your prospective clients haven’t worked with you in the past, they’ll likely have hesitations about handing over their hard-earned cash to a stranger. To win their confidence (and close the deal!), you’ll need to take some extra steps to reassure them that your design work will not only be a success aesthetically, but that it will also help them achieve their business objectives.

One of the greatest tools in a designer’s arsenal for overcoming this unique obstacle is the case study.

Case studies are narratives that reveal what you are capable of as a designer. They allow you to walk prospective clients through the contextual details of your existing project work so you can outline your creative strategy from conception to completion. They are the perfect tool for boosting the quality of proposals and adding credibility to your portfolio website.

The best case studies move beyond intuition-based explanations and document the rationale behind the design, UX, and visual decisions. They offer a more humanized perspective into the design process that, ultimately, makes a business case for your work. This leaves you in a better position to prove your value (and price) to even the most skeptical client.

The Overview

Think of your Overview section as the executive summary of your case study. It’s the Cole’s Notes version of the document, and allows your prospects to quickly understand the highlights of your past work without reading the entire thing. This section should include the core takeaways from all other sections including the main problem, an overview of the solution, and key results.

While the Overview will be your least detailed part of the case study, it is probably your most important. Only the most meticulous clients will take the time to read through your entire case study; the majority of them will just quickly skim through in order get the gist. Because of this, drafting a complete and well-articulated overview should be your top priority.


The Context and Challenge

This section can be distilled into three main elements:

1. Project background and description — The contextual information for the project including timelines, budgetary constraints, and the overarching purpose of the job.

2. The problem — The “why?” and the focal point for the project. Your case study needs to clearly explain the problem that led to the onset of the project. For example, if you were working on an ecommerce project then your problem could be something similar to:

“Interest for company X’s core product was growing internationally at an unprecedented scale. This led to severe logistical and distribution problems that could not be fixed by physical retail solutions alone.”

3. Project goals and objectives — Every website you work on should have tangible goals and objectives associated with the project’s problem. Are you trying to drive more traffic to the site overall? Optimize product pages for higher conversions? Reduce cart abandon rates? No matter what your objectives are, try your best to include any quantifiable metrics that were known at the onset of the project.

The Process and Insight

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The Solution

The Solution is where you get to show off your skill and style as a designer. It’s your chance to feature any and all samples of your work — from videos, landing pages, custom integrations, and anything else you created for the project.

To really get the most from this section, be sure to include written descriptions about your design work. Take the time to explain in detail your site’s defining features like its UX, navigation structure, content strategy, or unique mobile attributes. If you put the effort into crafting descriptions that complement your visual assets, your readers will feel much more confident in your decisions as a designer.

The Results

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