Blazing Adventures, Aspen & Snowmass' most knowledgeable outdoor adventure company, was in need of a total website revamp. We worked with Blue Tent to create a responsive web design for Blazing Adventures with custom eCommerce capabilities that allowed groups to make custom reservations for excursions. A responsive web design means that customers can easily view the website, and even make reservations for their next adventure, from a tablet or smartphone, as easily as they could from a desktop.
Blue Tent, one of our Internet marketing partners, brought a client to us that needed robust eCommerce functionality that would allow their customers to make group reservations. This is an unusual eCommerce website as they are not selling a product, but a service (or a trip). So, naturally we were eager to learn more and build a custom solution that would fit Blazing Adventure's needs.
Blue Tent handled the design phase of this project, as Blazing Adventure was their client -- our job was to take the design and build it into our content management system (CMS), develop the custom eCommerce platform that would generate revenue for the site, and host the website once it was completed. However, we did need to have a minor consulting role in the design phase to assure that the designs were matching the website's development needs.
Blue Tent designed a custom website design that was optimized for mobile usage via responive web design tactics. People are researching vacations and trips online, and today more than ever they are doing so from a smartphone or tablet. It was important to tailor the website to these mobile users, as well as the traditional desktop users, and a responsive web design gave Blazing Adventures the most flexibility and power to do this.
To streamline the development phase, it was important to design all of the necessary page templates that were going to be built into the site. These included page types for the homepage and basic internal content pages, trip previews, and trip detail pages. We could handle a lot of the dashboard and checkout designs on the fly.
The first step in the implementation process was to slice the designs that Blue Tent handed over to us. The design team provided photoshop files that are static image of what the website will look like and we need to convert that image into HTML and CSS code.
This website was being built on our content management system (CMS), so once we had the page template code we could start building out templates in the CMS. With page templates, we are able build one and re-use it many times for all pages that will use the same layout. The website developers went to work on all the page templates and got them as far as their skillset could get them. The web developer will then document the functionality needed that require an engineer to code, and they pass this list on for advanced implementation.
Software engineers are programmers that write code for complex website capablities. On the Blazing Adventures project there was a lot of complexiity in building the eCommerce functionality. We built a robust eCommerce plug-in that would give even the non-technical website admins the ability to add new trips, manage reservations, and more. We also integrated a credit card processor so customers could purchase trips directly through the website.
After a month or two of the project being in the developers hands they had created a fully functional website that was ready for quality assurance. The QA team got to work and started tesitng the website. They navigated the site on different devices (computer, tablet, mini tablet, phone), with different operating systems (Mac OS, Windows, iOS, Droid), using different browsers and browser versions (Chrome, IE, Mozilla, Safari), all to track down hiccups in the display or functionality bugs. We needed to make sure that any type of user could access and navigate the site, as well as purchase trips via any device.
As the quality assurance team was working to perfect the website, the SEO team was in there optimizing the site for the search engine use. There are several SEO items that need to occur on the backend of the website during the build out of a site, so the SEO team needs to get all these completed so that the search engines can effectively index content on the site when it goes live.
When the QA and SEO teams are finished, it's time to go through a GO LIVE process. We have a 25+ item checklist that we run through before sending any website live. Upon completion of the GO LIVE list, Blazing Adventures had a brand new, custom eCommerce, responsive web design.
Now that Blazing Adventures had a fresh look and a functional, custom eCommerce platform, let's take a peak at the objectives to see how we did.
Branding. Blue Tent did a great job of designing the custom website, so we knew from the minute the designs came out that we had achieved our goal on this one. The new website had the Blazing Adventure's brand in the logo and within the content and imagery, but it was also simple to navigate and very easy on the eyes.
Optimize for Mobile Usage. The implementation of a responsive web design was a necessity to reach a growing mobile audience. Mobile users will surpass all desktop users in the near future, and Blazing Adventures is now prepared for that evolution. Mobile users have access to the same content and functionality as the desktop user, but with a responsive design the layout is optimized for the mobile screen.
Custom eCommerce for Group Reservations. Now that we had a great website design, the next goal was to streamline the conversion process to make it simple and easy for customers to find and book trips. The custom trip finder (search) and custom eCommerce platform accomplished this goal by making it easy for users to search for trips they are interested in and make a reservation/purchase a trip directly via the website (safely and securely of course).
Online Sales = Success. Blazing Adventures has realized great results from their custom eCommerce website. An eCommerce site makes seeing a return-on-investment easy, as it all depends on how much revenue the website generates. Blazing Adventures has received several trip reservations a week since the site has been launched, and the revenue continues to pile up.
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