Design for Designers
  • UI / UX Design, Web Development

  • Custer

Custer's website is an exhibition of how our design and development capabilities compliment one another.

After almost 40 years in business, Custer, a second generation family-owned furniture dealership, has seen incredible success throughout West Michigan and Northeast Indiana. The company now has six locations, seven showrooms and serves five vertical markets.

Their growth has been inspiring. But their website had not grown with them. Their previous site started as many WordPress websites do—as an honest attempt to cobble an off-the-shelf WP theme together with sixteen thousand plugins. But, as the rules of the universe demand, the thing began to implode.

TRBL redesigned and redeveloped a completely new website for Custer that showcases every single one of our best-practices for not only designing and building highly usable, engaging, effective corporate websites, but utilizing WordPress as an effective, extensible CMS at the same time.

From start to finish, the entirety of this incredibly intricate site was designed and developed within a tight three-month timeline.

The user experience was designed through sitemap and wireframe design phases

We designed the site to extend upon the fact that each of Custer's projects is highly designed in its own right and often entails its own unique color palette.

The placement and hue of the large, branded circles in the background of the site are controlled entirely by the CMS on a page by page basis, which grants Custer the ability to design each of their Project case studies according to the photography featured within the project.

Background circle graphical elements were designed to accentuate each project
@Home Mobile custom color palette website mobile design
ADAC Automotive custom color palette website mobile design

As a user navigates through Custer projects, each feels unique and remains engaging.

In addition to the circular shapes changing position and sizes through the CMS, content editors also have control over the background color of the page and are able to slightly adjust the hue of the entirety of the site's background, block by block, on a programmatic basis.

Custom search has been built into the fabric of the website, designed for easy accessibility through a modal window wherever the user is within the site.

All Projects, Pages, News Articles, Blog Posts, and Services are fully searchable through keywords and categories. As soon as a user types or selects a filter, results populate quickly and automatically. To accomplish this, we extended upon WordPress' built-in search functionality to make the search results more dynamic and relevant. Visit the site and try it out for yourself.

Custom WordPress search functionality development

WordPress doesn't have to be bad. It can be a powerful tool when used properly.

Ambitious companies like Custer need web platforms that can keep up with them—not get in the way. Unfortunately, WordPress has gotten a bad rap over the years for being the foundation of many organizations' frustration, but only because it's used irresponsibly.

When you use other peoples' code through plugins or themes and combine together third-party solutions into a single solution, you never fully understand how the result is built. And fixing even a trivial bug means that you have to research before you can even begin to understand how to start—costing money and patience. Worst part? The third-party code that you're researching how to fix isn't winning any awards for Best Practices and it's not going to be fun to deal with.

This is what your Plugins page should look like.

Out of the list to the right, we have written and published two of the four plugins. That means we have a pretty good handle on how the Custer site works and can extend upon it with ease. It also means the Custer site is immune to the vast majority of WordPress security vulnerabilities.

Minimize plugins

Old code means headaches for you and your developer.

Lots of WP shops get a bad rep and we know why. It's because it is absolutely excruciating as a developer to have to comb through bad, old, third-party code to find out how to solve a simple problem. Good developers want to learn and advance their careers through working with modern code, and many off-the-shelf WordPress plugins and themes are built using old technology.

The modern internet is being written in JavaScript through frameworks like React or Vue, and for good reason: the web has gotten more complicated. For every WP site we take on, we bridge the gap between modern JavaScript and legacy WordPress by building with a "headless" approach, which allows us to accomplish a variety of future-proofing tactics through each website we build.

The new Custer site has proven to be an incredible investment for the company.

The hugely talented Marketing team at Custer regularly makes full use of the tools that we've provided them and TRBL continues to maintain and extend the site. We look forward to continued opportunities to work with such a talented team.

Custer Projects Archive website design
Custer Mega Menu website development
Custer Projects Slider user interface
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