Both Hutto and Vaughn were determined to achieve autonomy in their professional lives. By mid-2015, they had both quit their jobs and launched freelance careers. Along the way, they formed a close professional alliance, working in tandem on e-commerce sites for small and mid-sized merchants.
With Vaughn in the dual role of project manager/developer and Hutto as designer, the duo has helped numerous merchants launch highly customized online retail over the past 2 years. And even though Vaughn works from the city’s far northwest side while Hutto works from downtown Atlanta, they couldn’t be closer in terms of professional style and standards.
“I seek to work with people with integrity,” Hutto says. “With Kelly, if I throw a challenging design element her way, she’s like, ‘Let’s do it.’ Some developers wouldn’t want to figure it out, but Kelly’s response is, ‘We’ll figure it out.’ That’s why I like working with her.”
Integrity is the key
Thanks to her partnership with Vaughn, Hutto has become especially skilled at designing for the e-commerce platform Shopify. More than half of her projects are Shopify sites. After spending time on other types of work — Hutto specializes in brand identity and infographic design — she says returning to the next e-commerce project is “exhilarating.”
“It’s just so different from a regular website. Say you’re selling hiking gear. You’ve got to figure out the categories, how are they treated differently, what does the boots page look like, are we showing certain styles together, or do we further divide them into sub-categories? There is much more of a UX component to it.”
The exhilaration can turn sour fast, though, when clients slow down or sabotage their own sites by being unprepared. To prevent this, Hutto and Vaughn give new clients homework — a list of tasks such as product photography and detailed product descriptions — to be completed before the project can kick off. “We insist on excellence,” Hutto says, adding, “That’s why we strongly recommend Mailchimp — there are just standard best practices that Mailchimp honors.”
Typically, Vaughn integrates the client’s Shopify site with Mailchimp, and then Hutto designs set of templates for the client’s future campaigns. And while Hutto enjoys the creative process, she also appreciates how Mailchimp shares that load. “Creativity is hard,” she says. “Mailchimp really does some of the work for you.”
Mailchimp makes things similarly easy for online retailers, Hutto says. “It pretty much tells you, ‘Hey, this is what you should be doing.’ You have to work hard to mess up a Mailchimp campaign.”