Royal Leamington Spa

With Royal Leamington Spa recently ranked the happiest place to live, this vibrant town has a lot to promote, and it remains a very desirable area in the UK.

The Royal Leamington Spa project

Historically renowned for its famous spa, Leamington now not only offers history, but a great location for entertainment hunters, shoppers and food fans.

The BID Leamington team tasked Identity Studio with rebuilding the existing RLS website. The new site needed to represent all the BID-registered stores in the town by showcasing them well, whilst also promoting the town to locals and visitors alike.

The previous website

It is no exaggeration to say that the previous website was huge. It had evolved and expanded to such a level and was housing so much information that it was starting to creak a little under the weight. Not only did it have details of hundreds of stores, it also included entertainment listings, news articles, competitions and more.

The task was to take the massive amount of data that the old site had accumulated, and build it into a new website that not only enhanced the user experience of navigating the website, but also make it easier for the BID Leamington team to keep it up-to-date behind the scenes.

Careful planning

As with all projects the first thing to do was work on a site map and structure. This was more prevalent than ever with the amount of shops that needed representing. Searching the old site for various shopping types had become cumbersome.

It was important that users could search the new site with various filters to fine-tune their requirements – along with the new requirement of needing listings for not only shops, but multiple business types too.

The ability to show timed special offers, events and competitions was also required. Whilst also promoting the area with information pages for visiting, living and running a business in the area, along with news articles.

Royal Leamington Spa - Custom CMS

Building the site

With the business directory core to how most of the information was to be presented, this was the starting point. One issue was most of the content from the previous website was simply added to pages as basic text. There was no convenient way of pulling out the various key elements, such as opening times, contact details etc, without manually doing so.

Learning from this, behind the scenes the new site was built from the core where all key information would be saved in designated areas of the database and assigned to each business. Business categories and sub categories were also worked in with a similar requirement.

The ability to be able to quickly assign organisations to the audited categories was needed, along with adding new categories as stores evolved. Assigning all this data in designated parts of the database also meant that exporting this data at the end of this website’s life would be more manageable.

Once built, the task of manually placing the old site’s data into the new system was vast with, at launch, well over 300 companies added. This was accomplished whilst also inputting data for new information, such as social media links.

Importance of photography

Promoting the local area with good photography was fundamental to the success of the project. Achieving this with big sections, such as the homepage, were simple enough. However, collating all the businesses imagery for the directory listings was an issue.

The old website used small, irregular, images most not suitable for new website. In standardising the images size used to a 4:3 format, getting new images was accomplished by providing a private web form for BID Members to submit their photographs. The form automatically resized very large submitted images to an appropriate web friendly size, simplifying the directory population on the new website.

Extra member feature

Post launch, an enhanced version of this form is now in operation which allows new and old BID Members to submit their details. Here, not only imagery, but also providing services descriptions and tick boxes for all the various categories and sub categories they fall into – making the lives of BID members, easier for future directory population.

“Thank you so so much, the site looks fabulous! I am so very grateful to have Identity Studio as part of our team. I hugely appreciate the commitment and hours behind the scenes as I know there are many. We would be lost without you. This is such a huge and good job done.”

~ Stephanie Kerr, Executive Director, BID Leamington

Royal Leamington Spa - Tablet News

User experience

Front end, all this structured information meant filterable search elements could be built into the site where, for example, the large Eat & Drink section you could select restaurants, along with cuisines styles and various other facilities to fine-tune your search.

Visually, plans were made for promoting various large events such as the Food Festival on the website. The RLS branding had a large palette of colours. The ability to switch core colours used on the site behind the scenes, was built so seasonally the website’s colours could be changed, along with changing the photography used on key pages. The ability to add videos, rather than images, has been integrated too, for certain times of the year.

Enhancing, and further populating, areas are continually happening post launch with many new information style pages planned to be added as the site develops. The new site allows for easier expansion as the website continues to grow.

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