Case Study: Disney Bridal Website

I don’t know any SoCal designer worth their salt who hasn’t worked for the mouse on at least one occasion. If nothing else it looks great on a resume, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get something for your portfolio out of the deal. So I was pretty interested when I got the call to come meet with one of the teams at Disney Consumer Products.

Nobody really expected this to be a successful venture. They anticipated maybe 30K unique visitors over the 6 months or so that this little experiment would be online. After that they figured it would peter out and everyone would go their merry ways. Because of this, the brand director didn’t want his in-house talent used, so they hired a freelancer (me) instead.

They gave me a lovely image of a model photographed against a dark background, which I used to mock up the site. It was dramatic and different from the direction I was originally given, but the couture designer absolutely LOVED it and gave the go ahead. I set about designing and building out the pages in the most simplistic HTML/CSS code I could muster, as Disney absolutely DID NOT want a database-driven site for this (go figure) and there were only about 25-30 or so dresses.

One week before my deadline I get the dress images – they have all been shot against white backgrounds, despite the fact that everyone agreed on a dark website. But hey, no problem. I got this!

I spent the next week using every bit of photoshop magic in my vast arsenal to cut out the models and adjust the lighting so they looked like they had been shot against a dark background. Once the site was done, the team started showing it around and people started talking about it. I was told even Michael Eisner, the President of Disney, noticed it and gave it a thumbs up.

By the time the site officially launched (coinciding with Spring Fashion Week), enough buzz was generated that it not only hit the front page of the LA Times business section, but I was told by my ecstatic supervisor that the site traffic was a little better than they expected – 2.6M unique visitors in the first week. Apparently Princess-themed wedding dresses were a thing… WHO KNEW!

Of course, this new-found popularity meant that the line expanded and was soon carried by a large retail wedding dress chain. The chain wanted the site redesigned to match their branding a little better, which meant saying goodbye to the dramatic sepia tones and hello to a more conservative white-on-white. So I was brought in again to redesign the site.