Chicago + Portland   877-899-9981

St. Charles Website Design

St. Charles Trading needed a new website that reflected the company’s great culture and unique vibe, while signaling the start of a new growth trajectory.

A Leader in the Food Distribution Business

St. Charles Trading, Inc., holds a distinct role in the food ingredient distribution business.

Led by the daughter of the company’s founder, with two other daughters serving in executive roles, St. Charles Trading has built a vibrant culture as evidenced by:

  • forward-thinking initiatives to breathe new life into a business that hasn’t changed much over the past few decades,
  • the hip design aesthetic of its Elgin, Ill., headquarters location, and
  • a deep commitment to exceeding customer expectations with unsurpassed quality and personal attention.

When St. Charles Trading reached out to us for help in redesigning its website, the mission was unambiguous: align the design aesthetic and user experience of the website with the company’s big goals and clear direction.

Updating for the Next Level

The previous site had started to appear outdated, and reflected neither the level and scope of services that the company provided nor their energy and voice within the market. Another challenge of the previous site concerned an overall lack of robustness. The St. Charles Trading team was looking for a site that said more and achieved more.

In-depth discovery revealed essential objectives that informed the design and development of the new site.

  • Competitors’ sites tended toward a clinical and industrial look and feel. St. Charles Trading wanted to create a user experience that was distinctly different — welcoming, unconventional, and personable, as well as clean and contemporary.
  • The new site needed to showcase the scale of the company’s operations.
  • While the interior design of the company’s headquarters location reflected the company’s culture, the website had fallen behind. The redesigned site needed to pick up some of the distinct features of the headquarters design aesthetic.
  • The site needed to serve as a more robust resource for buyer research, while reinforcing sales and marketing goals.
  • The previous content management system (CMS) was difficult to manage, and as a result, changes were not made to the site unless there was an absolute necessity. A flexible, easy-to-manage CMS was an essential objective.

First A Flexible CMS

Migrating the site from a cumbersome CMS to one that allowed for updates, design revisions, and the creation of new pages, as needed, was of paramount importance.

The Elementor page builder plugin on the new WordPress site has provided a quantum leap forward for in-house content editing capabilities. Without any technical know-how or coding expertise, content editors are able to create new pages and make design revisions to existing pages utilizing an easy-to-manage drag and drop page-building features. Pages can now be easily updated or reworked, whenever needed.

This heightened level of flexibility is essential to the company’s current focus on expansion, growth, and finding new ways of reaching customers.

New Design for a New Day

The new website managed to weave in design elements from the headquarters location in ways that contributed a distinct vibe and inviting customer experience. Some of the features that we incorporated into the new site include:

  • Backgrounds that resemble the products’ textured brown paper packaging material,
  • Incorporation of the company’s signature orange from the test kitchen as a branding element on fonts and other design features,
  • Product category listings that appear on banners that resemble white marble countertops, and
  • An oversized site navigation menu inspired by frosted glass features throughout the headquarters.

Quasi-eCommerce

Our early conversations with St. Charles Trading revealed a challenge that appears highly specific to their business. Available inventory of food ingredients, along with the sourcing capabilities to meet customers’ particular or one-off needs, within 10 different categories that range from sweets & snacks, to pharma, to pet food, is vast. Listing every product, or creating any sort of order form is simply not feasible. At the same time, though, customers want to receive a sample and test a product before committing to a major purchase decision.

Despite not fitting into a model that works for e-commerce sites, St. Charles Trading wanted customers who visited the site to get somewhat of a feel of a shopping experience. We achieved this with the creation of a unique contact form.

The Specs & Samples page provides an overview of the range of product options, and invites customers to provide additional information about what they are looking for. Once they submit this information, a salesperson gets back in touch with them promptly to complete the order.

Success Factors

Extremely positive feedback from the team at St. Charles Trading followed the launch of this new website. When a website represents as significant of a shift in design and functionality as this one, the potential for setbacks can be significant. This engagement stayed on track from start to finish, fueled by a lot of listening and a two-way information exchange that resulted in everyone involved in the project ending up smarter and eager for more. We are thrilled that the relationship with this dynamic team is continuing with ongoing consultation, and the opportunity to design the site for St. Charles Trading’s sister company that specializes in logistics.