Changing the way we work online - Born and Raised- an image of a lightbulb with a wire cage surrounding

This approach represented a cultural shift internally, and one we hope will accelerate the growth of our multi-channel presence. To manage this shift effectively we put together a dedicated team to oversee our social strategy, conduct regular ideation sessions and website reviews.

We firmly believe that making incremental updates to our content and codebase can improve all aspects of our customer’s experience. And if we can integrate new tools and methodology to help us along the way, we will.

In the first of a series of posts about our digital approach, here’s a brief insight into how we’ve developed our website over the last few months.

Performance

A sluggish website is detrimental to an engaging user experience and there are several factors that can impact how quickly a page loads. Google Pagespeed and developer tools gave us a snapshot of these issues during the development our site. However, once deployed, leveraging tools such as Pingdom and Google Analytics has given us a greater insight into how our site is performing in a live environment.

Pinpointing areas that require improvement such as image optimisation and render blocking scripts are key to maintaining our website’s performance. Our experience of using image optimisation plugins has been mixed. Utilising third party applications such as ImageOptim have helped to shave valuable bytes from assets, but have kept that much needed image quality.

Developing a front-end style guide

We’ve created a website that is deliberately modular by design, with shared elements that can be used in several instances. Creating a repository of all the UI components that make up our website made sense because it allows us to scale up in the future. We must be able to build out new layout modules or pages quickly and efficiently when the time comes.

Our style guide isn’t a prohibitive list of do’s and don’ts. We expect to be making constant changes to our site during its lifetime. As front-end development evolves, new tools and methodologies appear frequently, so we need our guidelines to be flexible enough to accommodate new ideas.

Migrating from HTTP to HTTPS

We are primarily concerned with protecting our customers and their data when browsing our site. In the least technical terms possible, HTTPS is a form of communication over the Internet which uses a connection that is encrypted. This encryption comes from SSL and this requires an SSL certificate. Having a reassuring green padlock next to our URL is essential, whether our users fully understand the technology behind it or not.

There is an additional SEO benefit for purchasing an SSL certificate for your website. When browsing a site using Chrome, the browser highlights sites as ‘secure’ or ‘non-secure’ based on whether the site uses HTTPS or not and Google advocates that all sites should be encrypted. This follows hot on the heels of Google highlighting sites as ‘mobile friendly’ in their search results.

Looking to the future

There is much more work we will be doing under the hood of our website in the coming weeks and months. Considerations range from moving assets to a content delivery network to reducing our reliance on plugins and third party scripts. Everything is up for grabs as we aim for an optimum user experience.

Footnotes

  1. Styleguides.io is a great resource of front-end style guides and pattern libraries

  2. A more in-depth look at HTTPS and SSL: http://bit.ly/1ypMI0l

  3. Sideways Dictionary does an excellent job of explaining digital terminology in layman’s terms