It's becoming quite common when perusing "digital agency" style websites to see the recent work displayed in a case study format, rather than the standard portfolio layout. As a web design agency, we've been toying with the idea of scrapping the typical design portfolio page for something that presents prospective clients with more concrete, results-based content.
What makes a case study different from a client portfolio page is the structure and purpose of the content. A portfolio page goes something like "who is the client, what technology was used, where can people find more info" - it's very much like writing a product description.
A case study, on the other hand, is about listing the challenges, solutions and results pertaining to the clients specific project - with numbers and charts to accompany the text. You can get creative with how the information is displayed, but the proof is at the core of the pudding. What did you do for company x and how is this going to benefit their business moving forward?
The easiest way to begin creating a case study template is to break down the project into 3 primary sections: the challenge, the solution, the results. Here's a list of what you should include in each section:
This section will contain a compelling headline and summary of challenges the company faced prior to doing business with your agency. You should also include details like the year you began working on the project and the relationship/history with the client.
In this section list the course of action and the steps involved, with sub headings/details for each step. Outline your approach and why you chose a certain path versus another. Use this section to flex your strategic muscles and unique process that makes your agency one of a kind.
As we mentioned before, the proof is in the pudding. Outline the key wins, discoveries and unexpected obstacles as a result of the solution or campaign. Gather your numbers, statistics and client quotes to back your claims and how the results will improve your clients business in the years to come.
A solid case study template should be one that is used time and time again, with each project you complete. Whether you're a web design firm or an internet marketing company, before and after screenshots will only take you so far. People want proof, so give it to them!
Image courtesy of Justin Gaynor