Design Case Study #1: Case of the Conundrums

Andrew W. Lo is the Charles E. and Susan T. Harris Professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and director of the MIT Laboratory for Financial Engineering. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University in 1984. Before joining MIT’s finance faculty in 1988, he taught at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School as the W.P. Carey Assistant Professor of Finance from 1984 to 1987, and as the W.P. Carey Associate Professor of Finance from 1987 to 1988.

Dr. Andrew Lo’s original site

Dr Lo’s website design is an excellent case study to explain the different design types we can do depending on what the client’s needs and wants are.

We are not restricted to cookie cutter template sites, or just one particular style or design. We do all of our sites from scratch as per instructions we get from the client. Now, how detailed those communications may or may not be can determine the outcome of a first design as well.

Here is Dr. Lo’s original site that we were given and asked to update with something that would set him apart, and be lively.

Worth noting that his now live site looks much like his old site haha. Go figure.

So, here is what I came up with, something a little bit outside the box, asymmetrical with bold color schemes and a creative yet elusive background scheme. Also the photo is a hopeful shot of the Dr looking up and away.

We showed it to Dr. Lo and his assistant, and they found it was TOO lively and didn’t care much for the background.

So we tried again, round #2.

I then went for a single color based palette, having remembered Andrew’s comments after the first draft that he preferred, blue, or grey as opposed to the orange and sky blue.

He also requested we try to incorporate an economic equation into the background as a watermark to see how it would look. This was the end result of that draft.

Still, it wasn’t what Andrew had envisioned. So we sat on the phone and discussed it, discussed other sites in which he liked the set up, color scheme etc.

Turns out he needed something very clean. So we came up with the last draft which was approved after close scrutiny.

So after two rounds of designs, we finally struck gold with this one. (I put a black frame around the example because the site’s background is white).

Note it is understated and clean, yet has an air of professionalism. It is easy to read and navigate. Note how different it is from version #1 and 2. But this is what the client wanted, and now he has a nice clean site that is easily updatable and legible.

To be honest it usually doesnt get to three tries, usually two, sometimes Dilly nails it on the first go. But if we are doing a design, and its totally not what you wanted it’s ok. Believe it or not, knowing what you don’t want can be more helpful than knowing what you do want.

But you can see that sometimes the way to do it is to decide what direction you would like to go in, and WHY.