ACCESSIBILITY: 3 WAYS TO ENSURE THE BEST USER EXPERIENCE POSSIBLE

When you think of your users and people who engage with you digitally, what comes to mind? It’s likely that your immediate thoughts are with a certain target audience, it’s unlikely that you consider that there are people with impairments or disability within this same audience group. There’s no judgment here if this is true…

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A LOOK BACK OVER MY HIGHLIGHTS OF 2018

I thought I’d start a new tradition this year, a wrap-up blog showing my 2018 company highlights. I’ve always thought its a pretty useful exercise to look back and reflect on the year, even if you’re the only one that reads it. So we started early 2018 with a bang – Our annual seminar at…

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IN CONVERSATION WITH RICH MOORE, FRONTEND DEVELOPER

For someone to stay with a company for ten years these days is quite something. We thought we’d take the chance to sit down with Rich Moore who has just passed his 10 year anniversary with us to see how his job has changed in that time and what makes him stay at Optix. Alastair:…

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Devon Partnership Trust (NHS) new website goes live

Over the last year the entire team at Optix has been busy beavering away on a very exciting new project that we’ve not really been able to tell people about…until now. As part of a regional tender, Optix were chosen by the marketing and communications team at Devon Partnership NHS Trust (DPT), who provide mental health and learning disability services in our region, as their preferred supplier for the design and development of a new website. Their old site had been there for many years and was in need of a decent overhaul. 

On a project of this size, lots of things you might not need to consider in a smaller web build come into play. Information architecture (how the site and its content are structured) is key. There are 1000s of pages of content so working out how the user can get to them is a job in itself. Search engine authority and rankings that have built up over many years are critical to the site's traffic and everything must be done to maintain these as best as possible.  There are also a multitude of key stakeholders to keep happy, all with a view on aesthetics, functionality and content. DPT don’t like to do things by halves, they also wanted to migrate from one domain name which had been around for over 10 years to a completely new one, another key challenge for our team.  

We started the project with a number of workshops. Key stakeholders at DPT were invited to these sessions to give their input. Interviews took place over a number of weeks and feelings on content, designs and functionality were all recorded. Our design team then used an app called Prott to put together 'mobile first' wireframes (designing with mobile in mind before desktop) which helped everyone in the project understand how the site would be laid out and navigated. Particular attention was given to the fact that users of this website could easily be in a difficult personal situation and require help urgently. It was vital that important information was quickly and easily accessible. 

After the wire-framing came the design stage. This is a huge site that needed many different templates in its CMS system. The team got to work and created (we would say this) one of the best sites we've designed to date. You can see the before and after pictures below and for a better look around take a look at the site: www.dpt.nhs.uk

Before: 

After: 

 

A bespoke approach to the back-end build was adopted and towards the end of that period, the team at DPT were able to start inputting their content. A proactive approach to testing was taken with real data while our digital marketing team got to work on the planning of the migration, not just across from an old site to a new site but also changing domain names as well. There is no way to glamourise this process, its hours and hours spent in spreadsheets and analytics programs, tracking important URLs that used to exist and ensuring none of the good authority the site has built up over the years is lost when everything changes over. The day the site goes live and for a few weeks after, careful work is done to monitor any drop off and make changes quickly if necessary. 

The result is one we are all extremely proud of at Optix. A flagship account and website which really displays all the hallmarks of our strapline, digital excellence. 

Alastair Banks, one of our co-founders says, ‘We were over the moon to be picked by DPT in the first place, we’re even more proud of the resultant website and relationship with our client. Very large projects can often stretch the emotional boundaries of the people involved, especially when they are spread out over many, many months. We’ve developed a very strong bond with the team at DPT and we are now very excited about phase 2 and other projects we have running with them. We are already in the process of building a micro-site to help with their recruitment drive’

Sharon Berkhout, Communications Manager at DPT  said, We are really proud of our new website and for the fantastic contribution from Optix in the different phases of the project. They are a creative, innovative, flexible team who really get to know your business and your requirements. Their expertise in all things digital is second to none and we have every confidence that the micro-site will also be a success and help us with our recruitment. 

For more information on how Optix can help you with your next website project why not give one of the friendly team a call on 01392 667766 

 

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Website Analysis Workshop

When people embark on a new website project they do it for a couple of reasons. Its been a few years since their last re-development so their site is looking tired and in need of a bit of love or because its reached the end of its life, having had lots of elements bolted on over time and is now becoming cumbersome and clunky. "I know" someone says, "let's get a new website". The journey begins. 

The problem then is that the people tasked at client side with this are not usually web experts. They may have created a few sites in their time but they are not experts in user experience, persona development, analytics analysis or search engine optimisation. Its quite unfair to ask them to come up with a spec for a new site that will blow the competition away. How should they know what to specify? Sadly the answer is that in 90% of cases they don't and this will lead to one thing only – a site that doesn't perform for their business. 

In order to know what you should build you need to look at what data you have currently. How people use your site at the moment, where do you rank in search engines, where do you want to rank in search engines., who are your target audience and what makes them tick. As an agency we buy in lots of tools as well as using free ones (like Google Analytics) to measure the effectiveness of a site before looking at redesigning or building it. We ask lots of questions up front and don't resort to guess work before putting mouse to mouse mat. 

We're looking to share some of that knowledge with forward thinking businesses that want to know more about the performance of their online presence. This brings me on to our new event: Website Analysis Workshop. We want to teach and explain to organisations how to learn from their existing site, how to find out where its working and where it’s not, to find out what needs changing and why, all of which can then be used in their next website build. This event will teach you how to use the industry leading tools to find out exactly how your customers use your website and what improvements are needed. 

If that sounds like something you'd be interested in, if you want to take the next step to learning about click and heat maps, scroll depths & user journeys then you should book on today. There are limited spaces and we're keen to make this a dynamic and working session so will be looking at your sites on the day. We look forward to seeing you at Optix HQ and getting geeky with data. 

http://bit.ly/optixanalysis 

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Creating a home for ‘Jail Ale’ – Dartmoor Brewery Website Launch

 

Here at Optix we’re partial to the odd team after work beverage so you can imagine the buzz around the office when Dartmoor Brewery asked us to build them a new website. The website had to appeal to the B2C market; increasing the brand awareness of ‘Jail Ale’ whilst maintaining a drinkaware authority that falls upon any reputable brewery. Dartmoor of course want you to drink their beer, but responsibly. That really resonated in the brainstorms, kick off meetings and brewery tour right through to design and functionality. This was a brewery that thinks about the customer at every step of the process.

 

Encapsulating the Brief

Dartmoor Brewery wanted the site to reflect these values and also offer something new to the market, a design that reflected the freshness of the ale and the brewery without being trite or condescending. The brewery, much like Optix, feels like a family, everyone supports one another and works to improve the brew as well as the brewery so that’s what we set out to accomplish.

Not every step of the design and build process was easy, there are strict regulations for alcohol promotion, and much like the unpredictability of the moors themselves this clouded some of our ideas.

 

A Change of Focus

Due to this challenge we turned the focus a little by encouraging the consumer to buy into the location of the brewery itself, Dartmoor is by definition a wild, stunning, natural area of outstanding beauty and when you’re stood on top of Haytor with the wind in your hair – you can feel that magnificence in her entirety. And that’s what the brewery has taken and put into their ‘Jail Ale’ they wanted to encapsulate that almost intangible feeling into a Nationally recognised ale. 

So we took this need for combination of location, people and National brand and created a website that truly encompasses it all – see it in all its wonder here.

If you would like to discuss a website project get in touch with us.

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