Lingua Franca

The customizer we built is an artist’s palette, a tool that easily empowers anyone to create something special.

Lingua Franca’s line of sustainably-sourced, fair trade luxury cashmere sweaters, all hand-stitched by women in NYC, celebrates bold, beautiful self-expression.

Customization is the essence of the Lingua Franca shopping experience, and personal narratives and stories play such an important role in that experience.

Customers draw from their memories and passions to make something special, and we built an intuitive tool to help them.

  • Web & Mobile Design
  • Frontend and Backend Development
  • UX Strategy
  • CMS Integration
  • Shopify
  • Vercel
  • NextJS
  • Firebase
  • XState

A Customizer Empowering The Customer

Every piece of Lingua Franca apparel is completely unique. Different text, different placement, different art, different thread colors … you name it. 

Previously, there was no visual way for customers to build a design. They could only access options from dropdowns, or relying on customer support to help match their vision. 

We changed that. The new product customizer is built to render handmade embroidery, with hundreds of available options. 

Also, a Lingua Franca customer can drag, drop, build and edit an almost limitless number of decoration options.

Playful UX & UI design

The UX design makes the experience feel fun and personal, whilst guiding the user to make easy decisions. 

Customers love Lingua Franca’s signature styles, color combinations, and celebrity-inspired looks. Above all, we ensured simplicity as they recreate their most popular styles. 

For example, we built in the ability to select default thread colors per sweater fabric color, giving users a stylish baseline to work from. Their most popular text embroidery styles were organized at the beginning of the experience to facilitate easy selection.

Our UX team also added a tab system so users can easily switch between decoration categories.

Handmade in NYC

Translating the customizer experience from large to small device breakpoints, without sacrificing the size of product and decoration images, challenged our team to create a step-through version of the UX. 

Accordingly, users are able to add decorations and then return to a preview screen, to edit their designs and zoom into the preview image. 

To that end, our design team rose to communicate the playful nature of the brand. We added handwritten notes reminding visitors that products are “Handmade in NYC” and everyone is encouraged to “Customize It!”

A custom CMS integrated with Shopify

We built the frontend and backend experience and designed the admin tool. Our purpose-built CMS integrates easily with Shopify.

We added information to Lingua Franca’s fulfillment workflow, inserting customizer images into the work orders. Now the embroiderer has a printout of an image from the customizer showing exactly what phrase or artwork goes where, reducing the cost of re-work or mistakes.

Extensive user testing

A key part of the development work was thinking through “overlapping conditions.” 

How do you know if something is overlapping something else? Or if it’s outside of the designated area (the drop zone). Can we identify errors if a decoration is no longer available or a size change renders a previous design untenable?

Moreover, we did extensive user testing of customer experience wireframes, especially around how to present multiple decoration options. The user now feels excited, and not overwhelmed, by the experience. Plus, an elegant, intuitive UI makes interchanging them easy.

Maximum ease, minimum complications

The technology decisions we made throughout the stack provide maximum ease and minimum complications to the in-house team running the day-to-day e-commerce operation.

There is no client-operated infrastructure, it has to just work. We relentlessly minimized points of administration. Developers push to git, no more, no less. The merchandisers at Lingua Franca do everything in one admin tool so there are no other places to look for knobs & levers.

We didn’t introduce any new programming languages. Shopify already uses Liquid and Javascript, so the application, backend, and hosting use those too.

Also, we used Shopify Polaris components to keep things looking “Shopify-y” and the fabulous moveable library for all things draggable/rotatable/resizable.

See it in action at

Beam me up, Scotty.