Hubble & Co launch Ecommerce site


Rade has launched a Magento based Ecommerce system for fastener specialist Hubble & Co.

Formed in 1989, Hubble and Co operate from their sites in Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft and carry a huge stock of nuts, bolts, washers, wood and coach screws plus a great series of pins and rivets, brackets and even plastic expansion plugs and washers.

Understanding the nature of the products, such as nuts and bolts, was key to the project as the site need to be easy to use whilst guiding the end user quickly to the exact specification of product they are looking for.

The Magento Commerce based website allows users to drill down through product ranges by any number of attributes (price, pack quantity, thread size, thread length, grade, din, material amongst many others) using a parametric search.

To find out more about the project see our case study or visit the site at www.hubble.co.uk

Progression of web development

Progression of web development: Frontend architecture and user experience (UX)

As the years go by and technology improves we see many changes within the web development industry, from responsive techniques and animations, through to better user experience (UX) and user interaction.

Most recently, people will have heard the term ‘responsive web design’ or ‘adaptive web design’ where we’re seeing innovative techniques being used. This includes the recent introduction of CSS regions which looks like it will be an interesting addition to a developers toolkit.

Responsive design is a fabulous way to improve your user’s experience. It allows you to deliver your information to people in a custom manner based on the device being used, screen size and even which way up they’re holding it. Aside from making the site far more efficient, the developer can now ensure that the site is seen in exactly the way it’s intended. The fact that’s it’s now so commonplace reinforces the fact that it’s now an essential tool rather than a ‘trend’. After all, who doesn’t want to increase their conversion rate and/or sales?

Responsive isn’t the only technique we’ve been introduced to recently though, of course. Clever use of CSS3, HTML5, and sometimes JavaScript, or other JS libraries, opens many doors for us to experiment with user interaction and animation. Providing more interaction not only gives users a better experience but it also gives them something to talk about, blog about and share.

Is it all good?

There’s a very fine line between a good user experience and a bad one. Having access to the powerful techniques that can be deployed using HTML5 and CSS3 isn’t always good and it’s very easy to over-do it with animations. It’s best to keep them subtle and smart, to gently improve the user interaction rather than show your entire arsenal of special effects all on one page. So ask yourself whether it’s totally necessary and ensure that it will have a positive impact on your website.

There’s also a behaviour that we quite often see in conjunction with responsive development; that of forcing users to navigate differently because they’re on a particular device. This needs to be made simple and intuitive. Forcing people to use certain devices or orientations isn’t friendly and can have quite a negative effect when people don’t want to ‘think’, they simply want to access the information they’re after. Clearly there’s occasions where forcing a user to turn their iPad on it’s side is totally unavoidable but like the old familiar “This website has been designed for a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels” message, you won’t win any friends by doing it!

“Everything in moderation…”

Remember this phrase?

Never has it been more applicable than now. With flat design, designers have finally moved away from using ‘every effects filter possible’ in Photoshop and it’s now the developers turn to show restraint. We’ve been introduced to many more new techniques in recent years; Parallax scrolling, SVG graphics, icon fonts that are infinitely scalable, the use of fixed header bars and infinitely scrolling pages. All good stuff but let’s start to set the trend right here;use restraint– we can save allthese topics for another day.

 

Skeuomorphism vs Flat design

The demise of design? Or the dawn of a new era?

Skeuomorphism – big word isn’t it! One which has governed all sorts of industries but particularly web design for many years. In general terms, the use of skeuomorph is to make things look like something they’re not. Nothing new, it’s been around for centuries; fake wood trim on cars, mock marbling on a wooden fire surround…

Translated into the graphic design sense, Photoshop brought us opportunities beyond our wildest dreams. Now we could make a clock look like a real one, on a wall! Switches that actually glow and have a proper shadow; reminder lists that look like notepaper with holes down the left for the ringbinder.

The biggest benefit though is the way it’s moulded how we interact with sites and latterly, tablet apps and our phones. My mum can easily find her photos, they’re stored behind a button that looks like a photo album and her calendar is behind a button that looks like… anyhow, you have the idea.

It’s brought us a lot more than pretty buttons though; icons that are now universally recognised, an envelope for email, a wastepaper bin for stuff you’re throwing away. We’ve grasped the idea of these now though and for years now clients have been demanding more difficult and complex uses of the icons. Latterly though, I think that comes down to how skilled you are in Photoshop and not how well you can design.

It’s a brave person that’s bucked the trend, done away with photorealism and proposed a design concept using flat, solid colours; but it works. Suddenly everything looks fresh and simple to the eye. I think our demand for pure functionality now demands it. We don’t need calculators with realistic buttons – flat ones with a number on will be just fine. The Microsoft Metro look and Apple’s iOS7 have made their mark in helping the concept become widely accepted and I’m glad to see that a lot of website design agencies are embracing this new look.

Gone are the gradients, the overuse of ‘bevel and emboss’ for navigation bars, the ‘leather stitching’ and making buttons appear to pop out of the page and for now, I’m glad. Skeuomorphism has done us proud and still has its uses but our interaction with sites and apps has evolved and from a UI perspective, I’m a firm believer that it’s time to move on.

Practical Pig app launched

BPEX Practical Pig app

To help boost pig production, an innovative Practical Pig app has been launched by BPEX, who represent pig levy payers. The free app features video clips on a range of farm management techniques demonstrated by industry experts. 

BPEX Knowledge Transfer Manager Angela Cliff says: “It’s an exciting new tool for the pig industry, using the visual power of videos to demonstrate important everyday tasks – and what’s great is that managers and stockmen can use the app while they’re out and about on farm.”

Designed and built by RadeDigital, the Practical Pig app and related website include more than 50 short video clips. The website uses responsive technology to ensure it works across a range of screen sizes and is fully content managed. BPEX will be able to manage the addition of new video content themselves, allowing the training resource to grow over time. Filming for finishing unit management is due to start in the autumn; again produced by Insight Communications.

To download the free app for smartphone or tablet go to play.google.com and search for BPEX Practical Pig or download the videos on a PC or laptop from practicalpig.bpex.org.uk. The app will be released into the Apple store in the coming few weeks. 

Rade at Suffolk Chamber AGM

Join us Weds 26th June 2013 for the Suffolk Chamber Networking Lunch and Annual General Meeting at Ufford Park Woodbridge. The headline speaker will be Lord Green, Minister of State for Trade and Investment who will be giving an update from Westminster.

Rade will be exhibiting at this event, so please take the opportunity to come over and arrange a meeting to discuss your plans for the web and email marketing or sign up for a free website health check. We can also demonstrate how easy it is to manage your website yourself and the scope of web systems to make efficiency savings.

For more information see www.suffolkchamber.co.uk 


Members Extranet Phase 2

Following the successful launch of the new AtlasFram Members Extranet, now two months old, Rade Digital is pleased to announce the roll out of the second phase of developments. New developments offer the 1,100-strong AtlasFram membership further benefits and time-saving tools.

At the heart of the AtlasFram philosophy is efficiency and offering their farming members genuine cost and time savings. The latest tools go a long way to fulfilling these values. They include an Events module, enabling members to view and register for relevant events. Members can also now complete their Annual Declaration online (rather like an annual subscription form with cropping and livestock details as well as communication preferences). Of course, by completing the form online, time is saved not just for the farmer but also for the AtlasFram team!

Another vital part of the equation is information delivery. A further Phase 2 addition is a module that delivers comprehensive market information for all major agricultural commodities. Knowing the latest grain prices at the touch of a button empowers farmers and is another key element in driving efficiency.  As with the Phase 1 developments, all information is integrated to the AtlasFram internal database systems including a Microsoft Dynamics ERP database.

Further developments are in the pipeline; Phase 3 is already in production.

Rade to build Hubble online store

Rade is delighted that Hubble & Co have chosen us to build their first online store. 

Hubble & Co is an established fastener supplier with a product range that is continually expanding. With over 20 years experience in the trade, Hubble & Co has a reputation for holding a comprehensive range of stock and a fast, reliable delivery service. Their clients are primarily oil and gas companies but, with the help of the new website, they hope to expand further in to the engineering and construction trade. The new website will be the basis for an evolving online system which will be able to cope with that expansion as business grows and demands change. 

For this project, we will be using the Magento ecommerce platform, which will give Hubble & Co the option to integrate with back office systems at a future date.  

 www.hubble.co.uk

 

AtlasFram Members Extranet

A new extranet developed by Rade Digital is set to boost the online services AtlasFram offers its 1100 farmer members. A range of features and functionality will revolutionise the member experience and ensure AtlasFram maintains its place as a pioneering agricultural co-operative.

With online ordering of fuel, fertiliser, seeds and agrochemicals, as well as advanced planning forms, the AtlasFram team will have more time to source the best deals for the members. Full integration with AtlasFram’s business systems enables viewing of recent transactions and crop sales. A member networking system allows interaction with other members. A directory will provide information of their local suppliers and market and price information will be provided via data feeds directly to the site.

The aim with the project has been to offer a personalised portal for members to give them all of the information they need at their finger-tips. A dashboard style user interface makes navigating around the system easy, with alerts and reminders, ensuring they never miss an important deadline.

Enhancements, already on the way, will offer a responsive version of the system optimised for tablets and mobiles as well as an Events module.

A new website for DoctorGolf

Rade are pleased to launch a new website for Stuart Robertson, resident golf pro at Ufford Park golf course. With an engaging design and information about Stuart and his partner professionals, the site aims to grow Stuart’s already strong reputation as well as increase the appeal of golf at Ufford Park.

Stuart, keen to embrace new technology and all that social networking has to offer as well as to provide something useful for budding and experienced golfers, has created a series of video tutorials which are hosted on the site, with more being added all of the time.

BPEX Tender Win

Following a keenly contested pitch process, RadeDigital have been selected to design and develop a new BPEX website and tablet application to help promote best practice across indoor and outdoor pig production.

Working closely with a specialist video production company (Insight Communications) Rade will provide the infrastructure to support the deployment of approximately 75 short video clips, each tackling a different element of pig production, to provide a training resource.

Using Rade’s ESM system, the site will be fully content managed allowing the video content to grow over time. The app will provide users working out in the field a solution that does not need a fast internet connection to work effectively. Responsive technology will ensure the website works across a range of devices; enabling those who do not own a tablet, or who do not want to download a sizeable app to their smartphone, the ability to view the videos via their home computer.

Launch is scheduled for early summer.