A few of our recent website launches.
Timber frame manufactures, suppliers and housebuilders.
Oakworth Homes with with architects, designers and builders to provide timber frames and other parts for housebuilding. They had been struggling with their “old-school” website for a number of years. Built in a previous generation the site relied on Flash, was not mobile-friendly and had to be updated by the developer. The site’s performance on search engines was also suffering from its outdatedness and lack of fresh content.
The website was causing confusion because Oakworth had rebranded but had been unable to update the look of the old site to match their new focus on dealing with the public as well as trade.
We came up with a number of suggestions, the main being that we use WordPress as the content management system. Despite WordPress’ merits (which are discussed all over this site) Oakworth’s marketing manager was already familiar with the system and so could take over the updating of the site easily.
The look and feel of the site had to mirror Oakworth’s brand which is clean and precise but also feels natural. Oakworth use sustainable, natural materials but are also a precision, standards-led engineering company so the look of the site needed to show both, whilst being attractive to housebuilding contractors and architects right down to single customers building their own home.
Oakworth has a story and heritage so we made sure there was an area on the site for the founder, John Capper, to tell that story.
Other suggestions we made were:
The bespoke WordPress theme we built allowed several different page layouts which could be selected to give different emphasis on content: some have full-page background images, some slideshows and some just a solid colour. The overall layout is simple and clean, letting the content speak for itself.
It was important that all images of products and processes should show the customer exactly what they might be purchasing, so we did a photoshoot at the company’s headquarters in Sheffield. This created a large library of images which can be used in rotation on the site to keep it fresh.
Oakworth now have a website they can update at will. Whereas before, the website had been left to languish because of the difficulties in updating it, it is now kept fresh and has become the main marketing tool for the company.
Self-service purchasing portal for customers.
The Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation was formed in 1974 by thirteen local authorities to aggregate demand and improve purchasing efficiency as a buying group. It allowed multiple organisations to “club together” to combine their purchases into single, larger orders to make sustantial savings by bulk buying.
As a group, YPO supplies products and services to schools, local authorities, charities, emergency services, the public sector and other businesses such as nurseries and care homes. Their range includes around 30,000 products and services from pens and paper, computers and furniture to things like electricity, food and insurance.
With so many products and orders to keep track of, YPO need a massive sales, inventory, warehousing and logistics system. Our sister company, Azzure IT, have been working with YPO on a long-term basis to integrate all of their systems and processes into a single solution. As a result, a highly customised deployment of Microsoft Dynamics NAV is now at the heart of the business. YPO wanted to extend the use of their new system to all of their members rather than just the staff at HQ with a simple, quick-to-learn solution which allowed the members to do only what they needed to do and hid all of the rest of the functionality.
Whilst the NAV system was perfect for YPO, they needed their members to be able to place their own orders onto the system, check their progress and, if needed, edit them. Just giving customers access to their internal systems was not an option, so our task was to create a web-based interface which allows external users to access and modify orders from NAV but using a website.
YPO has a very strong and recognisable brand. As the portal is an extension of YPO’s brand into other businesses it needed to be consistent with all of YPO’s other messaging, so we worked closely with their marketing team to ensure this.
The user interface is accessed through any web browser (desktop or mobile), is simple, clean and designed to need the minimal amount of training for users.
Our aim was that if a user can navigate a website or use Word, then they will already know how to operate all of the elements. The small amount of training needed related mostly to the setting up of accounts and users.
YPO can allow a member to access whatever parts of the NAV system they need. Once the member is set up, they can also allow other users (usually their employees) to also use the system, but with more limited options. The power to add sub-users gives the portal another lever of self-service, as YPO do not need to manage individual users.
Users are met with a dashboard when they log in which gives the latest sales information and any warnings of actions which may need to be taken. The actual data shown on the dashboard depends on the type of user they are, with the higher levels of user being able seeing more sensitive data than the lower ones. Any messages from YPO are also shown on login.
Existing orders can be filtered by their status (in progress, new, updated, cancelled) and each order can be inspected in detail. The detailed view shows the status of all of the lines of an order and allows changes to be made to quantities and delivery dates. If something has changed on the YPO side, such as a delivery time, the user is warned and they get the chance to accept the change, or propose an alternative.
When an order is out for delivery, a tracking URL can be added if the carrier offers one. When delivered, any proof of delivery documents can be uploaded to the order. There is also an email enquiry button which can send a message directly to the account handler associated with that particular order if there is a query.
Different users have different ways of using the order information internally, so we gave them a few choices. Every change to an order generates an email alert but some users wanted messages to be sent as the changes occur whilst some didn’t want to be inundated with updates. It was also found that some users had a specific time of the day set aside for dealing with orders…so we gave them a choice to have constant email updates or to store messages up and deliver them as a single block which could be scheduled to arrive at their preferred time of day. Any order can also be downloaded as a PDF document from the system if users need backup copies or to print them as a formatted A4 document.
Orders which need to be returned can also be dealt with by the portal as Purchase Return Orders, which are operated the same way as orders, but work in reverse.
In addition to the order process, users can administer their account (change passwords, etc.) and also decide the frequency of their email updates. Higher level users can control access to the portal which the lower levels are allowed.
YPO’s customers can now oversee and control their purchasing and returns operation without the need to contact YPO which means large time (and therefore cost) savings on both sides. Orders can now be placed or edited outside of working hours, if needed, as YPO is no longer needed to be involved in the process. The mix of automation and self-service has taken a huge burden away from YPO’s staff and the portal is an extension of YPO’s brand into their customers’ operations.
YPO’s customers now feel that they have more control over the process and that their relationship is more of a partnership than before, as they are all working with the same system. The simplicity of using a website with familiar controls made onboarding the users a simple task.
Specialist web shop for a wide range of mobility and lifestyle assistance products.
Mobility House provides mobility and lifestyle assistance products from easy-grip cutlery all the way up to mobility scooters. They already have a high street shop but were aware that the large majority of customers find it difficult to get there or shop without help. A website would allow the customers to shop for their own products and keep a level of independence.
We decided to use the trusty combination of WordPress and WooCommerce as the Mobility House staff, despite being willing to learn, didn’t have much initial experience of running a website. These two systems together have a shallow learning curve and allow a shop owner to quickly get started and gradually learn more as the shop grows.
Mobility House already took credit and debit cards in their shop, so we worked with their provider, Payzone, to integrate the same system into their website. Another customisation on the payment side was to allow customers to apply for credit on more expensive items such as mobility scooters. Customers can check out of the shop after getting a finance package from a Mobility’s third-party broker linked to the site.
The second consideration was the design. It needed to be simple, easy to navigate and clear, as a lot of the users could have vision problems or be using assistive devices. A friendly colour palette and easy-to read type was essential.
A system of symbols was devised to denote the different departments. Mobility House’s research suggested that a high proportion of customers would be using tablets rather than computers, so a large, easy-to-hit target was essential.
The non-product images were all chosen to be positive and promoting independent lifestyles rather than focusing on disability or ageing.
From a standing start, the site now has over 500 product lines on sale and continues to grow daily. We are currently looking at social media and other online and offline advertising to further increase sales.
Branding, exterior design and website for a new car dealership.
Mayfield are a new car dealership in Sheffield. Their focus is on service and making the buying experience more of an experience than a chore. Removing some of the traditional preconceptions about buying used cars is important to Mayfield and they offer AA-backed checks and ongoing warranties as well as finance packages.
We first needed a brand. Car dealers seem to fall in the lower end of the quality scale when it comes to brand…some don’t even have one. We saw a chance to learn from both the local “bloke with a car lot” and the national warehouse-type businesses. The local dealer has the advantage of being small and able to deal with their customers on a friendly, personal basis. This type of dealer is often recommended by others and relies on word-of-mouth referrals. However buyers are sometimes put off as the old “Arthur Daley” stereotype still lives on. The national chains are able to to project a strong brand, trust, offer peace-of-mind and have a pleasant, clean atmosphere to browse around in. Their disadvantage is that they are seen as overpriced and less technically knowledgeable about cars, with the staff being sales people rather than involved in servicing.
The brand needs to be applied to a range of material and work at small and large scale (for example, on business cards and keyrings up to large external signs). We chose a typographical logo and used a bold, simple typeface, avoiding gimmicks or quirks and gender bias. The colour palette is simple and trustworthy with a single Teal accent colour which highlights the black and white. The colour will be used on flat areas such as walls to add interest or around the website to pick out certain areas.
The brand is confident, trustworthy and designed to look like something you might see on the high street rather than specifically on a car dealer. Inclusivity is important and we hope to have make the brand seem less intimidating and appeal to more customers. We have produced a brand guide for future use to protect these values.
Social media is also an important part of Mayfield’s strategy, and the brand’s logo and colour scheme is designed to have impact when used as an avatar or profile image.
A website for a car dealer is a lot like an ecommerce site (owner adds products and details themselves, customer lists products and views single for more details), but it’s unlikely a customer would add cars to a basket and check out with a credit card. Obviously, the amounts of money involved are higher than most online sales but customers also need to see and test drive their new vehicle. In a lot of case they need to meet the person selling the car to gain trust.
Our solution was to offer a familiar shop site which lists products but to replace the shopping basket / checkout model with a comparison list which customers can add cars to, compare specs and come back to later to enquire about.
The latest cars are shown on the home page, with the chance to look at the full range or filter by price or specification. Each car has its own photo gallery (we offered advice on shooting cars for sale), its specification and, as all cars have a finance deal available, the legal necessities of information on deposits and repayments.
Additionally the site allows you to offer your own car for sale and to apply for finance. Mayfield’s connection with the AA was also an important way of establishing trust early on. Customers can see their potential purchase has been checked and approved by a well-known established expert and one who is confident enough to continue to guarantee the vehicle after the sale.
The brand ethos which was used to create the logo is present across the site design – photos show families and young people enjoying driving. The focus on actually buying a car is quite low and that is intentional. Trust and confidence are the top priority as customers won’t necessarily buy when they find the site…but they will remember that it felt a little less intimidating than the completely sales-based sites they might also be looking at.
For Mayfield, the ability to quickly add and remove cars is vital as cars are always one-off items on the site rather than products with stock levels – when a vehicle is sold it needs to be removed to avoid fielding calls from disappointed customers. We also created a simple system where a car’s make, model and specifications are saved and can be re-used on future vehicles which makes adding cars a matter of ticking boxes rather than typing. The more cars added, the more this library of options builds up, and adding items becomes even quicker.
We went for a bespoke WordPress theme with WooCommerce in order to allow Mayfield to easily update the site content and vehicles. We disable the basket and ecommerce functionality and replaced with a “Wishlist” plugin which we customised to create the car comparison list.
Mayfield are now up and running using their new brand across their premises for signage as well as printed material. The website is being updated daily and bringing in new business.
A visual and functional update to a unique piece of Sheffield’s history.
The Garrison Hotel is a well-known Sheffield landmark. The historic Hillsborough Barracks, originally built in 1854, has undergone many changes of identity but in 2001, the former accommodation and Guardhouse areas were converted into a hotel, bar and restaurant.
Whilst the website for the hotel had done a good job for many years, the advances in technology and tastes meant it was time for an update.
After many discussions and research we came decided a list of key points:
Behind the scenes we needed to make the site easier to update and to improve its search engine ranking.
Early on, we recommended moving over to WordPress as the system for managing content. On top of this we added several customised functionality including an events manager, photo galleries, booking system and ways of making the different areas distinctive in their own right whilst keeping a consistent look.
The hotel is very photogenic and we wanted to make photographs the main feature of the site, so a lot of work was done to let the hotel take advantage of their existing library of images. New photographs were also shot especially for the relaunch.
Word-of-mouth is a major factor in the hotel’s success and social media and links from other sites play a large role. Social sharing and TripAdvisor integration was important, as we realised the website was only one part of the hotel’s online presence wit all needing to work together.
Search engine optimisation can be controlled from within the site admin area on a per-page basis.
Staff at the Garrison now look forward to updating the site and are easily able to add new content – especially photographs. The ever-changing content is helping keep the site fresh and attractive to search engines.
New menus and events can be easily distributed to customers.
Bookings online have begun to take an upturn as the new design gains traction.
Photography gallery and shop.
“Make me a website so I can sell my photos!”. You can’t get simpler than that.
Jan is a photographer and photography tutor who sells her prints at exhibitions and shows. She wanted to broaden her reach and also promote her work for publishers interested in licensing her work.
Finally, Jan wanted to promote her photography courses despite them nearly always being booked up far in advance.
Rather than just throwing a simple shop together, we decided to look at how people would decide to buy photographic prints. Obviously, it’s going to be mostly to decorate homes or offices but how do people decide? Do they have something in mind if terms of subject, or is it a place or a colour?
So we thought the photographs should be browsable by category for people just needing inspiration but searchable for people who knew what they wanted. The basic keyword search was good but we wanted something better so the advanced search offers searches by category, location and subject tags. The we decided to go even further and add a colour search so you can take the environment the print is going to be in into account.
A lot of photo sites try to keep pictures relatively small to stop people downloading them and using them for their own use. We went the other way and decided to make a selected image take up the maximum amount of space possible on screen to show it at its best. The problem of theft is dealt with by the automatic addition of a watermarked copyright image instead.
You can save photos as favourites and purchase them with a simple basket system.
For Jan, uploading new photos is easy. She meticulously uses metadata in her photographs so just by uploading and image we automatically have information such as the time taken and the location as well as keywords about the image. The metadata is parsed and added to the site automatically to save typing as much as possible and she can edit or add new information at any time. The photo then becomes a product just like in any other ecommerce site. There are a set of fixed sizes she sells the photos at for fixed prices so these are added as defaults. However all of these can be changed on an individual basis if needed.
Finally our custom-built algorithm scans the photo and identifies the most prevalent colours in the image. These colours are given human-friendly names like “green” and “brown” rather than their numeric values which makes them easy for people to search for them on the frontend – they can either use the words or pick visually from a palette. When a picture is viewed on the frontend the colours are listed with all the other data and can be clicked to perform searches for pictures with similar colours.
Jan has now achieved her aim of opening up her customer base from a few visitors to the shows she exhibits at to an international audience.
Re-energise marketing efforts with a new website.
Coverworld manufacture and deliver metal cladding and panelling for contractors and smaller builders in a wide range of sectors. They came to us because their website was over ten years old, had outdated information, looked terrible and was impossible for Coverworld to update themselves. They had recently rebranded but were unable to carry the branding across the website, making it look even more out-of-place.
They were answering the same queries about product spec. all day and posting out printed datasheets which were constantly needing to be updated. They needed to show:
We proposed a customised WordPress site which, whilst allowing the expected page and news updates had extra capabilities added:
Coverworld have their entire product range on the website and it has become an invaluable repository for all of their product data. Their own staff use it as well as their customers.
The site is kept up-to-date with regular refreshes of the product line. The staff find it simple to add or amend products in the CMS as a lot of the process can be done quickly by ticking boxes or picking menu items rather than typing data in.
The site is a valuable resource as it not only shows Coverworld’s own product range and specifications but has up-to-date information on the latest building regulations, safety legislation and maintenance requirements when using cladding and roofing products.
Dynamics NAV Integration for communication between internal systems and the public.
SPS create, design, manufacture and deliver promotional items. They are the UK’s biggest supplier of customised merchandise. If you have ever had pens printed with your logo, a branded plastic bag or a customised mug, the company who supplied it probably got them from SPS.
Having their own production facility gives SPS the freedom to design and produce almost anything they can think of. The usual pens and mugs are just the tip of the iceberg – they can do embroidery, customised books, glassware, food, electronic items and even totally custom-shaped items such as magents and rulers.
SPS’s business model is to not supply to the end-user but to a network of resellers across Europe who then sell to business. SPS offer these resellers a package which includes credit facilities, delivery, marketing support and a website.
SPS were in the throes of completely updating the system which runs the entire business (stock control, delivery, accounting, production, purchasing, quoting…everything) with Azzure IT. The new system is based around a bespoke version of Microsoft Dynamics NAV. Azzure asked us to come up with a web-based control system which allowed SPS’s internal sales staff to get quotes easily out of the system and to update product information without having to beome NAV experts. The customer-facing part of the website needed to present all of their products and allow users to get theor own quotes for products. The other major requirements were:
Making intensive use of NAV’s WebServices we were able to get a very high level of communication between the system and our new ecommerce, CMS website. The way NAV presents its data, coupled with the outdated functionality of the existing website made a complete rebuild and redesign of the existing SPS website necessary.
A major design challenge was making the site responsive to mobile devices, bearing in mind the large amount of data that was needed to be displayed and the interactivity required.
We also created “The Quote Machine”,which is the heart of the website. It allows anybody to test out different quantities and style combinations of an SPS product and see the effects on price. It also suggests different quantities to what have been requested if that would make the quote more efficient by taking into account factors such as production methods or delivery options which the customer would not be aware of.
Quotes can be saved in a basket for later use, or shared to customers by email or social media.
If an SPS reseller wants to have their own website rather than referring to the SPS site for quotes, this can be done at the push of a button on any chosen domain. A reseller has a choice of two layouts, each of which can be further customised with their branding, which includes their colour scheme, logos and fonts and header images. Some of the pages, such as “About Us” are editable by the owner and some remain under the control of SPS so they can remain in charge of product images and pricing. SPS can also add updates such as “special offer” banners when needed. In this way the reseller can sit back and let SPS do the hard work (product and pricing management, providing quotes) and concentrate on selling the products. These sites come pre-filled with content and are ready to go live, even if the owner makes no changes. The system will allow further layouts to be added in the future to eventually build up a collection of designs.
SPS have now been acquired by PF Concept and the UK website is no longer visible. We have left the case study as the system is still in use internally.
Online store and style gallery.
“Copacetic” is a positive word, made popular in the smoky jazz clubs of 1920s and 30s America. It means “in excellent order”, “completely satisfactory”, “sorted”. A Copacetic Gent is someone who gets it right every time – especially with their style. He makes great efforts to look perfect…whilst seeming to make none at all.
Savills Barbers of Sheffield is famous worldwide for being a time-warp back to the 1930s where gentlemen’s barbers were respected craftspeople and confidants. A personal and individual service to each customer was key and copaceticness abounded. Savills attitude, look and style all combine to give an experience unlike any other but they found that the current selection of styling products they were using didn’t quite fit in with their ethos…they were just not Copacetic enough. So they decided to invent their own! The Copacetic Gentlemen’s Grooming brand was born and was soon developing paste, wax, pomade and other mysterious substances which we didn’t even know were a thing.
Copacetic Gentlemen’s products (as well as equipment such as combs, scissors and aprons) were initially used only in Savills and sold to their own customers, but it soon became clear that other like-minded barbers around the world were in similar need – so the range was made available to them as well, in distinctively branded packaging. Copacetic proucts were sold to barbers for their own use but they were also selling them on to their own customers, as Savills themselves had been doing. As sales increased Savills decided to start selling the Copacetic range online and a website was commisioned.
Unfortunately, the initial results were less than copacetic and the team reached out to us for help.
Working with the Savills / Copacetic team we came up with a plan and a way forward. The site needed to cater for three customer groups:
Each group needed handling differently. Customers needed a familiar ecommerce experience whereas the two other groups needed a more business-like model which allowed bulk ordering, volume discounts and scheduled invoicing rather than up-front card payments.
The final piece of the jigsaw was that Copacetic had just established an efficient system where the manufacturer of the product was also able to package and distribute it without Copacetic being involved, so orders from the website needed to be sent to them to be processed as well as to Copacetic for administration purposes.
Style-wise, Copacetic Gent had already evolved a strong brand by being part of Savills. The brand now needed to stand up for itself and be part of the process of taking the user back to the early 20th century.
With one of us already being a lifelong fanboy of the Art Deco style, the design brief was a gift. Copacetic’s already strong brand was steeped in the geometric, lavish, retro-futuristic styles of the ’20s and ’30s and we needed to translate that across to the site. We were aiming to give the impression not of something imitating that style but something designed in the 1920s which had been locked away, aged and been rediscovered. Everything is slightly faded, distressed and muted…but not enough for it to be noticable or look contrived. There aren’t many solid blacks or pure whites and the site background almost gives off a smell of old books.
Through Savills numerous photoshoots, Copacetic have access to an excellent collection of photographs which are used to full advantage throughout the site, especially on the inspirational “The Look” section, which is designed to keep growing and evolving with current styles.
We used WordPress coupled with WooCommerce, as the client was familiar with this combination. However, they were unaware of the level of customisation we could provide. Their prior experience had been of an out-of-the-box installation of WordPress and WooCommerce with very little personalisation, so were initially under the impression that this system was OK, but not flexible enough for them to run the site alone and make changes themselves in the future. They were expecting they would need to be asking us for help constantly when additions were needed. We soon swept this myth away with:
We also made good use of the Trello system to manage the project, communicate progress with the client and deal wth feedback – something which we have been experimenting with over the last few months.
The day after the launch, and with no promotion the site was already making sales. Since then everything’s continued to be Copacetic!
Orders are running through the system as expected and an SEO and PR project is beginning in order to boost the profile of the site. Copacetic Gentlemen’s Grooming has become another iconic Sheffield brand.
Also, we now all have better haircuts.
Branding, illustration and website for plant hire company.
Chesterfield Paver Hire is a small company who had operated for years on word-of-mouth marketing. The owners decided to bring the company up-to-date and asked us to see what we could do.
We suggested that we first needed to provide a clear brand as it was deeply confusing for customers to see different colour schemes and logos on different paperwork and machinery.
This formed the basis of the design for a new website which describes the products available to hire simply and without clutter. We created some illustrations to show the machines alongside a simple specification table to make it easier to decide on the correct equipment.
The heavy use of black evoked the environment the machinery is used in but we countered this with bright, large pictures of the most colourful machines in CPH’s collection. On the photoshoot we also captured a library of closeups of the machinery and road surfaces to use as textures where a non-specific image was needed.
We also thought it was important to add real-world quotes from current customers to give potential new customers a sense of trust.
Hiring large plant machinery is best done on a local basis to minimise transportation costs and logistics so the site was written in order to highlight the company’s location wherever possible which, along with the very relevant domain name aimed to boost the search engine ranking of the site.
The collection of several different telephone numbers and email addresses was also rationalised.
The new website and its associated brand has resulted in an increase in bookings because of the online forms.
The local approach we took with the search engine optimisation has seen Chesterfield Paver Hire go from nothing to being the top result in a Google search for “Paver Hire Chesterfield.”
Future plans will involve building on the initial success with CPH engaging, with our help, some social media marketing.
Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation
Coverworld Steel Roofing and Cladding
Superfast South Yorkshire
Webasto Thermo and Comfort
The Copacetic Gentleman
Mayfield Motor Company
The Garrison Hotel
Oakworth Homes Timber Housing