Special Blend Gravel
Some people just exude confidence and Serena, the founder of Special Blend Gravel Camp, is one of those people. A professional cyclist, she has the mental skills to break down any challenge and meet it head on. When we chatted about improving her website, she said she wanted to feel more in charge of her business. To her, that meant tackling the thing that scared her most: marketing. She knew her funnel of new campers was drying up but she wasn't sure what to do to change that.

Project Goals:
  • Build a website that conveyed the same blend of passion, camaraderie, and fun as the in-person events
  • Give Serena control over her site to update it as camp registration opened and closed
  • Set up a social media calendar and content plan
  • Create a mailing list to capture leads and support the community of campers year-round

Target Audience:

Passionate female, and female-identifying, intermediate to advanced cyclists who want to improve their race times and make loads of friends.

Key Challenge:

Giving Serena agency in her own business. I wanted to make sure she had the tools and systems she needed to manage her website and social media like a pro.

Research Study Details:

To figure out what changes we needed to make to the website, I first conducted interviews with past campers. I asked them about their fears going to camp the first time and why they decided to sign up. I also asked what they took away and how they would describe the experience as a whole. To help Serena position her camp in the market, I asked if they had attended other sport camps and how those differed from Special Blend Gravel.

Impact (TL/DR):

  • 150% growth for her mailing list after sending her first email
  • 250% growth for her mailing list over 2 months
  • Spring camp sold out in 5 days - a record!
  • Sponsorship with Garmin
persona time
After interviewing past campers, I built two personas for this project. Personas allow me to empathize with the user and build brand stories around their frustrations and desires. Every decision I make it to help these personas fulfill their goals. In this case, those goals are to improve their cycling skills, build their confidence, and make new cycling friends.
website design - site map and low-fidelity prototype
Initial Concepts & Wireframes
  • Home screen should provide an overview of the camp plus allow potential campers to see all camp offerings
  • Compelling photos of enthusiastic campers riding their bikes as well as enjoying the classes and sitting around the campfire
  • An FAQ section to help campers prepare for the camp
  • A full break-down of each camp, describing what's included, the coaches, the routes, and schedule
  • Fun, whimsical illustrations and a friendly, non-competitive feel

After showing Serena these wireframes, I started to create a high-fidelity prototype so we could see what the site would actually look like.

brand guidelines

Serena worked with the well-known illustrator, Lisa Congdon, to create the brand guidelines for her business. Icons include a bicycle, coffee cup, and the sun. The colors are cheerful pastels and the logotype font is a hand-lettered alphabet.

high-fidelity website design

A high-fidelity prototype following the flow of registering for the fall camp can be found here. You are welcome to click through it and pretend like you're signing up for the fall camp.

usability test findings for the high-fidelity prototype
To make sure we were meeting our goals for the website, I conducted a usability study with past and potential campers. Each participant looked over the site. They were then asked to locate several pieces of information, such as a schedule, what to bring to camp, and the cost. Past campers were also asked if they felt the site captured the feeling of the in-person experience.
Overarching Findings
  • 1
    More information needed overall
    Most users wanted more information to make the decision to register, such as example routes from past camps and photos of the lodging.
  • 2
    Improve the copy
    Most users felt the copy, which was transferred from the old site, could be more compelling in conveying the specialness and premium experience of the camp.
  • 3
    Better photos + more testimonials
    Most users wanted to see lots of smiling faces and campers enjoying time off the bike. They also wanted to see testimonials on the home page as well as each camp page.
implementing changes
the final website

You can find the website, and sign up for a camp yourself, at http://specialblendgravel.com.


Now that we had the website, it was time to tackle the marketing.

Using the personas from earlier, Serena built buckets of content around her campers' frustrations and desires. Each bucket was around a specific topic, like recipes, cycling routes, seasonal tips, etc. Once she had the buckets labeled, coming up with content ideas for each proved easy.

The next step was setting up a way to share those ideas with her audience on social media. To do that we:

  • Created an Adobe Express account
  • Set up a scheduling calendar that felt easily achievable and fit within her busy life
  • Built templates she could use for infographic posts
  • Enabled her to get creative and play with making the posts fit her brand's personality

The last step in marketing Special Blend Gravel was to create a mailing list.

Without a mailing list on her site, she had no way to reach out to people who visited the website but didn't sign up for camp. I set her up with a basic Mailchimp account and built an easy-to-use email template. We set her up on a monthly email schedule, using her content buckets to fill the email.

the impact
  • 150% growth for her mailing list after sending her first email
  • Spring camp sold out in 5 days - a record!
  • Serena learned how to use her personas to decide what to give her audience both in terms of content and service
  • "It's so comforting to know that I don't have to do it all. I can use social media to promote my business in a way that fits into my life and stays fun."