Paul Merry has been teaching artisan baking courses for over fifteen years. He’s been a client of mine since 2007 when he first approached me to build a new website for PANARY after his previous website designer had gone ‘AWOL’.
That website, built with WordPress and a heavily customised version of an events management plugin, ran for 7 years without a hitch. Paul’s entire course schedule for the year was presented and clients could book themselves a place on any baking course by simply filling out a form on the website. Gift vouchers for any amount were available for purchase directly from the website with payment handled via an integration with PayPal.
The case for a website redesign
There were a number of important factors which led to a discussion about redesigning the website from scratch:-
- the site was not mobile responsive
- the event management system was heavily customised and could not be easily updated
- the event management system lacked the facility for online booking & payment
- the event management system generated a large volume of ‘spam’ booking emails
- the site need to be optimised for geographical searches (eg. ‘baking courses south west’)
- the site would benefit from additional ‘landing pages’ targeting geographical searches
Paul also wanted to be able to expand his baking course offering to include a new 4 day residential course based in the South of France and ‘tease’ chapters from his upcoming book as blog posts.
The changing marketplace
Over the last few years the profile of baking and bread-making in particular has been raised through the increased media attention created by popular TV programmes such as ‘The Great British Bake Off’ and personalities like Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry.
One might have thought that the increased popularity of all things baking would have had a positive impact on the numbers of clients booking PANARY baking courses. Quite the contrary, as Paul pointed out. The increased media attention has created more interest and, in turn, more demand but it has also meant that more individuals and organisations have arrived on the scene to meet that demand.
PANARY is a business and, like any business it has competition. In the face of increasing competition a business must work harder to differentiate itself. To do this, it must utilise all the tools at its disposal for maximum benefit.
PANARY is an online business
During our client meeting to discuss the new website, I made the point that PANARY, despite being a very hands-on, artisan baking course business teaching bread-making skills in a Dorset watermill, is fundamentally an ‘online business’.
Clients find the website, learn about the offering, the tutor and make a booking. All this takes place online. Increasingly, clients find PANARY via a mobile device, so catering for the small screen was an absolute must.
And here was the revelation: if the business’ principal source of revenue comes via the website then the owner is indeed running an online business and, as such, the owner must think and act like an online business.
The new PANARY website design
The new PANARY website is mobile responsive and presents a clean design and layout with plenty of white space. The images are ‘unified’ to for a consistent look and feel with regard to colour.
There are clear calls to action (in the form of red buttons) on the home page and in the sidebars. The home page does not feature an image slider!
Visitors to the PANARY website can now review the entire course schedule with full course details and availability. Places on any course can be booked and paid for online (via PayPal) or offline via cheque or bank transfer. This will save Paul countless hours of administration, emailing and chasing payments. Additional payment options may be added later.
The booking form now features an anti-spam device in the form of a simple maths question!
HTML5 & Microdata
The new PANARY website has specific ‘landing pages’ targeted at specific keywords. The purpose is to improve on the already impressive performance in search and target ‘long tail’ keywords which have geographical contexts, eg. ‘bread making courses Devon‘.
The site is build with HTML5 and microdata has been used in the markup to ensure that addresses and contact details are indexed correctly by the search engines.
PANARY is a great local business run by an experienced tutor who is passionate about both his craft and passing on skills and techniques acquired over decades of hard work to students eager to learn.
I have enjoyed a long client relationship with Paul and look forward to continuing the development of the website with him. You can visit the website at www.panary.co.uk.