Choctails is a family run artisan chocolate company in the UK that creates luxury handmade truffles based on cocktail recipes. They have tapped into two of the most loved indulgences in the world – cocktails and chocolate.
They already had an e-commerce website, but it wasn’t performing as well as it had in previous years. The brief was to bring the website up to scratch so that it matched the professionalism of their chocolate boxes and bars. They also wanted to make more of the membership facility, and get more people on the mailing list. At the same time, the website had to keep running during the development process, and no orders could be lost during the upgrade.
So what was wrong?
- The site hadn’t been updated for quite a while,
- it was sometimes taking over a minute to load,
- the load the pages were putting on the site’s servers meant that it had been taken down a few times by their hosting company,
- when you were able to access the pages, the page designs weren’t always logical, and were likely to create visitor confusion.
Although technically there were problems, there were also many positives. Choctails had professional branding that was consistent across the website, business documents and product packaging. They already had a good following, and they knew exactly what they wanted, both visually and functionally from the new website.
Demolition and Rebuild
Approaching this project was similar to gutting a house while leaving the frame and roof intact.
It was important that the store kept taking money, so a clone was taken of the site and all of the work was done on my development server. Demolition was swift and merciless. Following a backup or two, the theme was removed and replaced by a fast, modern, lightweight alternative. All the plugins that provided the functionality were either updated or removed, and the site was given a thorough clean.
Following this a great deal of checking and testing was done to make sure that the products and orders were still there, and that none of the details were changed.
Now the time came for the new page layouts. The branding was to be the same as before, it’s very striking and evokes the golden age of the 1920s and 1930s. The home page showcased the products first and foremost, and then the Choctails’ 5 o’Clock club section was redesigned, and new software was created to allow visitors to sign up easily and get a dozen chocolates every month.
It was during this part of the project that the client was given access to the servers so that they could see exactly what was happening. We were able to have telephone and online conversations and go through the pages almost as they were being built. This ensured that the page designs matched expectations.
When the new site on the development server was ready, dates were agreed for the go live. A 40 point checklist was created and followed during the rebuild day. The client knew the steps that they had to perform (mainly testing), and knew which order my steps would follow.
The whole update went smoothly, and the site was up and running hours before expected, ensuring that the owner could announce the new and improved site on Facebook before the end of the day!