How we made our new website

Welcome to our first blog for our new website and a perfect opportunity to explain exactly what we have been doing and some of our future plans.  This week saw a celebration of Entrepreneurs with “National Entrepreneurs Day” and so I felt it was time to “seize the day”.

A new website takes many months of planning.  As our work became busier and our team grew to the heady heights of 7, we realised we were fast out growing our old website. Many of our customers found it time consuming to navigate, so we decided to upgrade our website to make the user experience better. We live in a society where most people are time poor and fewer people seem even to have time to shop on the high street but spend an increasing amount of time shopping online.

As a close team we all had to look at every product, what was worth saving, developing and what we needed to say goodbye to! The last design decisions usually come down to myself and Andy. As the designer, I always like to make the final decision with Andy because he is in charge of production, having been brought up in the industry, he knows every strength and every weakness from what will print well and what will not work.

This first stage looking at products and making new samples took many months of work. The first initial plans were drawn up early in 2019. We found other websites which inspired us, worked well and were good to navigate. We had to achieve speed of navigation with a clean and modern feel. English bone china is a heritage product, so Susan Rose china needs to sell both the story and the brand, in order for our customers to understand why we believe this product has a place in the 21st Century.

I am passionate about the English bone china industry, its industrial heritage & how this product is just as important today as it was 100 years ago. It is our job to make other people understand and appreciate its quality. If we fail to do this then we will not be able to sell our much-loved product, and we will have failed at the first hurdle. I do not believe failure is an option.

So therefore, this is the next important piece in the website planning, the photography. To tell a good visual story every piece needs a correct photograph for the new website. This means a product photo and approximately a minimum of 4 or 5 lifestyle photos for both the website and social media. With our last website we employed a fantastic local professional photographer, but as this is something I’ve always been interested in, I decided to give it a go myself. As those of you who know me, I am a great believer in “give it a go” because if someone else can do it, the chances are you can too. The product photos were not a problem as we have a professional photographic machine in Stoke. Emily is a great photographer and has mastered Orbitvu with all its quirks and “bad days” to a much better standard than I ever achieved. Most of our work is photographed, on completion from the workshop. Then I collect the samples and bring them back to my photographic den above our office here at The Mill to create a lifestyle picture. Although I have a great SLR Nikon camera, I ended up using my google phone for most of the lifestyle shots. The google camera phone is so good and so easy to instantly load pictures to the relevant folder on the desktop, I ended up using this for the majority of pictures.

This is always time consuming because we have so many products and I love mixing up the photos to create various animated posts. I also believe it is important to show our customers and clients the manufacturing process for each piece. This is sometimes tricky as the factory does not welcome a lot of intrusive photography to protect clients and their designs, but somehow with their help we have slowly managed to achieve this. Of course, this photography process is always ongoing as we constantly add new pieces to the website.

What about the descriptions for each piece of English bone china? We soon realised we simply did not have enough time in the day to do this, so what better than to ask someone with a good use of English and knowledge of our business, my friend Lib. When we first started the business in 2008, Lib offered to come and help out. She stayed for many years, multitasking from decorating to writing social media posts. When we moved the workshop from Northamptonshire to Stoke in 2017 Lib sadly left us, but her dedication and commitment remained, so we were lucky she was able to help us with the new website.

The photography and descriptions have to all be married up and each folder copied to the web designers, my social media library and to Green Umbrella who help us with our social media marketing. The website designers, Brookstone Creative spend many hours of hard work coming up with designs and navigation for each product, making suggestions and giving us plenty of homework along the way.

Eventually we launched in October, but with many plans for the forthcoming months. We successfully added the bauble page and now we have a proper Christmas range which we will be launching ready for Black Friday. Andy and I are working on the children’s page and early in the new year we will be putting together a page for tableware and dinner services.

Like so many things in life it all takes so much longer than you think, but it was definitely been worth every moment of planning even if it has meant the next blog will be about….Christmas!