Evaluation

From the start when I first analysed the previous www.chccs.co.uk website and looked at what I wanted to achieve by the redesign I have again learnt so many new skills.   Looking at the old website pages it is clear now they were not engaging at all for visitors to the website, even since the launch of the maintenance page whilst developing the new website more bookings have been made.

I felt I was able to implement and progress through the discovery phase which I learnt last semester more quickly with this project; I was mentally planning how I would do this when developing the self initiated project brief.  Although the website is not totally finished due to time constraints of the project I plan to finish and make the website live as it is for a local business.

Creating a competitors report was new to me but enabled me to see more clearly the differences between this business and local competitors.  It highlighted the differences in particular most of the local caravan sites do not have their own website which I felt was a big USP (unique selling point) for this business, however only if the website new provided a good user experience.  I felt developing for mobile first although important with all new sites was very much the case with this project as pitch bookings are often made on the road when travelling.

A good way to engage with users is with images, from my research they stated they like to see clear, representative images of what they are spending their money on.  To enhance and develop my photography I feel I have learnt a lot with this project about the actual images and video and how to create and develop these using Adobe PhotoShop and Premiere Pro, which was a big learning curve.  My aim was to make them emotive and engaging; with the video I wanted to tell a story, which people can relate to, and which is also very much a trend at the moment.  Although I have incorporated large emotive images throughout the site I learnt how I needed to keep them to a reasonable size i.e. less than 2Mb so as not to slow the loading time of the site.  When enhancing the images it was easy for them to be excessive in size when finished up to 30Mb so I had to be aware when using them.  This is especially the case for mobile as fast optimised pages are thought to lead to higher visitor engagement and retention and a higher SEO ranking.

Being able to include guest reviews I felt was good as through my research this was an area potential customers look at when deciding to book, they like to see what others have said.

I learnt new skills when downloading WordPress as I had never done this before, and have learnt the importance of keeping plugins and themes updated; you need to keep these updated, if they get too out of date then you may be unable to catch up and may have to delete the plugin and reinstall. Learning a how to setup the WordPress Bellevue theme was quite difficult at times.  The slider problems took a while to solve with me eventually reverting back to a single hero image on the main screen was because I found I could not use the central ‘Check Availability’ button when using a slider and this button is needed on the this screen so users see it immediately and and therefore accessible.  I felt this was a learning curve and with this knowledge of the Bellevue theme a big benefit time wise would be if I were to use this theme for future projects as I have invested time in learning and am still learning how to develop the website using this theme.  I questioned would it be more beneficial although difficult to develop the site using foundation and code, as these skills would be more transferable however one of the benefits of WordPress is it is also a CMS (content management system) so is easily accessible for administrators of the site to update information.

I feel I have been able to complete most of my aims of my initial self initiated brief especially simplifying the booking process and making it as painless as possible.  With the new designs contact information is clear and I feel the site is easy to navigate through.  I did not create wireframes or designs for tablet which is something I will need to do in future projects. My main reasons for this were mainly due to time constraints of the project and also through my research of the Bellevue Theme I found it was responsive on mobile and tablet; this was one of my reasons for purchasing this theme.

In my self-initiated brief I listed looking at implementing a jQuery element into the new site in WordPress; I was able to do this with the call to action button ‘Check Availability’ on the initial page, when you hover over it with the mouse or finger if using mobile device the transparent Check Availability button fills with colour.

I have learnt and feel the user experience is crucial it can take only seconds for a user to reject a website and leave for various reasons.  Subsequently good or bad feedback can spread quickly via word of mouth or social media and can be the ‘making of’ or the ‘end’ of a product or service.  I feel this emphasises how important research, the discovery phase, the design process and each step in the development of a new site in the creation of a good user experience.

One of my aims when redesigning and considering what the new site needed to offer was to make it engaging and offer and develop a better user experience and through user testing have been told this is the case which I feel happy with although I still have a little way to go to finish the website especially with the Check Availability and Trans Pennine Trail pages as I don’t feel these images could be improved.

Future Considerations:

Finish the project – Continue with development and complete the website and the video.

User testing – Continue with user testing and focus on different browsers and devices.  User testing is something I would implement and incorporate more and at various stages throughout the development of future projects and not just at the end as this is not practical and I feel it could to lots of changes having to be implemented at the end of the project which is not practical with a client project.Google Analytics – Once the website is live monitor Google Analytics more frequently.

Social Media – The Caravan Site already has a Pinterest account but I feel I need to develop this further and create a Facebook account for the Caravan Site, through my research on my other projects I found this is huge market for advertising and connecting, engaging with potential customers.

Mintel Research Ltd – It will be interesting to see the Mintel report due out this year into the caravanning and camping market to see if the rise they predicted in 2012 has materialised.

Business Cards – Create Business Cards to give to guests, merchandise and marketing.

Booking Deposits – Incorporate WooCommerce and look at accepting deposits for bookings online.

Future Plans: (due to time constraints I have not been able to spend as much time as I would have liked on these areas)

Look at and research other wireframing tools for future Projects including Adobe Experience Design.

Look at WordPress in more depth and how the actual themes are created.

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