Firstly welcome to our new and improved website, we hope you like our new look! Back in the glorious spring months of 2016 we decided that our ‘then’ current website whilst perfectly functional was being left behind in the world of all things ‘tech’...
As a long standing Lake District holiday lettings agency, our very first website was built way back in 1997 (a time when Tony Blair was Prime Minister, a cloned sheep named Dolly made the news and J.K Rowling released the very first Harry Potter book!). At this time we were one of the only agencies here in the Lake District to have a site out there on the big World Wide Web. Whilst several re-designs had taken place over the years it was now we really needed to stand out from the crowd (Just look at the evolution of Tony Blair & Harry Potter since 1997!).
Reasons for change:
1. The continual advancement of technologies.
2. The website was stuck in a time warp.
3. We needed to improve the presentation of our fantastic portfolio of Lake District properties.
Like all good things, change is always eventually inevitable, so thinking caps came on, pens came out and we started brain storming.
A NEW LOOK
Firstly the re-design of our site had to fit in with our company branding and ethos, we needed to get the right content out to our audience of loyal and new customers and also demonstrate to our cottage owners that we were effectively presenting their properties.
We are lucky enough to have a fantastic graphic designer on board our small team so whilst our brochure and advertising efforts were relevant, sleek and appealing our website was standing stagnant. We had great content and continual new and exciting ideas however some of our efforts were being lost in translation, hidden behind the now dated face of the site.
Goals for the new site:
1. A new visually appealing site which tied in with our agency branding.
2. Effectively communicating our brand, who we ‘the agency’ are today.
3. A highly responsive site accessible across all devices to meet modern standards.
4. Greater user experience and customer satisfaction.
5. Attract new customers and expand existing customer base.
6. Easy, accessible & navigable.
EVERYONE LOVES A CHALLENGE
Like any project we also had to factor in any negative aspects. Below are some of the challenges we accounted for and faced during the project.
1. Who was going to help us? We spent weeks talking with multiple web design agencies until we found a company that fitted in with what we were trying to achieve.
2. Budget? We were offered proposals from various agencies some high, some really high and some low. In the end our ‘perfect fit’ agency were able to work with our budget requirements.
3. Time constraints and workload, we are only a small agency (there are only 5 of us in the office) and as such our small team had to knuckle down. The project had to be run alongside the day to day running of the business and life as we know it. Work on the new site started in September 2016, we had originally forecast the launch for December 2016 however after a fantastically busy autumn with increased lettings, new properties and new members of staff joining our agency, we soon realised we would be pushing ourselves to breaking point. Eventually it was decided with the guidance of our web developers that we would launch in the first months of 2017.
4. Core message, how would we get the right message across? Would we alienate any of our customers and cottage owners? How would we stay true to our brand?
CAN DO ATTITUDE
Whilst we may be a small team we are however a creative bunch (trumpet blowing at its finest). So we knew we wanted to be involved in the project from the word go!
Our chosen web developers are also a fantastic bunch (thanks guys and gals), again a small team who we were able to gel with (even if they did speak confusing tech sometimes).
READY, STEADY, GO
Once the project plan had been created there was no stopping us. Schedules, meetings, to do lists, design dreams, development plans, content creation, system set up, between the web development team & ourselves we worked tirelessly to get to where we are today.
Our fantastic reservations and office team worked hard to maintain customer and client relations throughout the process, whilst developments were underway.
EVERYDAY IS A SCHOOL DAY
Lessons we learnt along the way..
1. Time frames should always be loose.
2. Never assume, we had assumed autumn would quieten down allowing us to push forward on the site, how wrong we were.
3. We don’t speak tech very well but have in the coming months gone from novice to advanced novice.
4. It is possible to survive a working day on one cup of tea.
5. Content creation is time consuming.
6. Cola is a great replacement for tea on those content creating days.
7. Online project management tools are a god send.
8. Our team are highly patient and understanding.
9. We landed on our feet finding such a great web development team.
10. We have a great portfolio of properties and great cottage owners.
11. Our brand is strong and our team share the same vision.
THE FINISHED PRODUCT
We love it, it meets every one of our goals and we couldn’t be prouder of what has been produced. However in this ever changing world we know you have to keep moving to keep up so will be continually developing, updating and enhancing our site alongside our web development friends. Keeping both our clients and customers happy.
We hope you like it!
Thank you to the guys and girls at Neon (Toby, Karl, Steph, Katja & Ollie) for being an absolute pleasure to work alongside and we look forward to our continued relationship.
Thank you to Dene for your guru like guidance and wisdom in all things tech!
A big thank you goes out to Kate, Kate and Stephen who have held the office operational fort whilst these works have been underway, it has been busy, hectic, and sometimes crazy for all of us but you have all done an incredible job!
Rebecca & Kristina (currently running on cola)