Wild Birds Unlimited
Wild Birds Unlimited

The Challenge

It’s unusual for us to help plan a website that we don’t actually design, but Wild Birds Unlimited (WBU) wanted to pair our digital expertise with the organizational knowledge of their in-house design and marketing team. The nature-focused franchise set out to update their website for potential franchisees – so our shared task was to make a very, very big decision simple by completely re-imagining the web experience.

After nearly 35 years, over 285 stores opened and countless awards from the likes of Entrepreneur magazine and Franchise Business Review, WBU realized the final piece missing in the franchise development puzzle: an intuitive website that helps potential store owners dig deep into the details. This website not only needed to provide a modern user experience, but more importantly, it needed to tell a compelling story about the industry, the brand, and the people who “spend money on bird stuff.”

Our Approach

To kick-off, we gathered all stakeholders for a day-long exploration and planning session, which we call Factory Day (thank you, Andy Warhol).

As a successful and well-respected franchise, WBU’s existing site leveraged existing industry best practices for guiding potential franchisees through the sales process. But during our Factory Day, we threw those aside to focus on the consumer and their needs, wants, and questions. It was less about what worked historically – and more about putting their audience first.

We started with journey maps to outline the current experience for a prospective franchisee from awareness through decision-making – exploring what users think, feel, and do along the way. This exercise helped identify key pages we would want on the site.

The group then discussed content elements for those pages, and with a shared list we were able to explore new page layouts. With each participant of the Factory Day contributing their own ideas, we ended up with the ultimate collaborative wireframe – leaving us all on the same page about the new site’s direction and next steps to take.

Going into this project, we knew that we would need to think differently about the site and its content. The SmallBox team helped get us out of our own world view and to hone in on what is important to our audience. Working with a consulting partner like this was new for us and we are thrilled with the results.


The Results

The Factory Day session produced the much needed content strategy that would power the website to grow its impact on prospective franchisees and ultimately “bring people and nature together” in new cities across the country. Their new content strategy drove deal flow by an additional 50%, and was soon shared across their industry as a leading example for other franchisees. 

A collaborative sprint in conjunction with pushing the boundaries of an existing process generated a new site that inspires and compels the users. The bonus outcome was a deeper understanding of the customer’s needs for the entire marketing team, who walked away feeling energized with new ideas to bring to the design and promotion of Wild Birds Unlimited. The team has since returned for another Factory Day focused on their retail marketing website.