Web Project: Advanced Home Actives

Advanced Home Actives, maker of a revolutionary skin product called the Brazilian Peel, needed an enterprise level eCommerce system that was user-friendly to both customers and administrators.

  • Advanced Home Actives
  • Advanced Home Actives
  • Advanced Home Actives
  • Advanced Home Actives

Project Highlights

  • Integrated ExpressionEngine and Magento Commerce to ease content management for non-product pages
  • Developed custom Magento theme to highlight products
  • Seamlessly integrated email newsletter services to customer purchases
  • Designed HTML emails to keep user up-to-date with orders during processing

It All Started with a Haircut

After seeing his hairstylist’s beet-red face from an earlier glycolic facial treatment, Mac Smith, founder of Advanced Home Actives, started to think. “There had to be a safer, more efficient way to effectively exfoliate skin”. As a chemical engineer very familiar with the chemistry of acids and bases, Mac set in motion the process of researching and developing a revolutionary new glycolic peel product that would apply the right amount of acid before “turning itself off” so the skin could not burn like traditional treatments.

During the course of starting the company and branding the new glycolic peel product known as the Brazilian Peel, Mac and the Advanced Home Actives team came to Gist Create with the need of developing a flexible, user-friendly marketing and eCommerce site that could expand quickly when needed.

No Blemishes Left Uncovered

Excited about the potential of this new product, we immediately started developing the project requirements, listening closely to their needs, as well as learning about their goals, products, target audience, and industry. As with any other project we develop, setting a strong foundation up-front is essential to developing a successful site. This was no exception.

After defining the site goals and requirements we researching eCommerce systems that would be a good fit. While there are hundreds, if not thousands of eCommerce systems, many just didn’t align with Advance Home Active’s requirements. We needed a flexible platform for future growth. One that was easy for administrators, feature packed, expandable, and compliant with web standards. On top of that we didn’t want a platform that would restrict any design decisions along the way. Our research led us to Magento Commerce, a leading open source eCommerce solution.

Clean, Refreshing… Interface

Once the eCommerce platform was finalized we began mapping and diagramming important process, such as ordering, purchasing, and updating account information. A content plan was also created for the client, allowing them to develop content before the design process began. Armed with these documents the design process began.

The logo and product packaging design was completed by a 3rd party before we started designing the site, which ultimately dictated the final color scheme. Taking these elements into account we started with designing the most import areas of the site - the product and checkout pages. While the home page is an important page, we believe the heart of most websites revolve around what users are wanting. In this case, more information about the various products. While the home page can be the gateway, research shows once someone leaves the home page they rarely come back to it on the same visit. After the key interior pages were approved we then directed our focus to the home page.


We’re a big fan of keeping processes as simple as possible. That being said, we’re also fans of using the best tools available. While Magento Commerce does eCommerce really well, the content management of pages and content is lacking. Enter ExpressionEngine, our tool of choice for adding content. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for Advanced Home Actives to update the sites content so we integrated ExpressionEngine with Magento in a way that would not handcuff us if Magento or ExpressionEngine needed to be updated. A non-technical user can now go into the administration tools provided and update content on the fly without having to know code.

If You Build It, Will They Come?

Good looks and a user-friendly website is only the starting point for an eCommerce site. We are currently working with Advanced Home Actives to get to the word out as well as help the site show up well in organic search engine listings. So far results look very promising. Launched this year, Advanced Home Actives has already sold thousands, has been picked up by Sephora, a leading retail beauty store, and has been featured in Allure, Redbook, and countless beauty websites.

What We Did

Requirements development, web consulting, research and competitive audit, eCommerce and content management platform research and selection, information architecture, user interface design, CSS/XHTML template development, web hosting, search engine optimization and search engine marketing.

Gist Create delivered sound project management practices and a superior final product that effectively represents the Brazilian Peel and Advanced Home Actives brands. 

— Mac Smith, Founder of Advanced Home Actives