Discount Fire Supplies

Website Design

Discount Fire Supplies

Discount Fire Supplies are one of the UK's premier retailers of fire safety products and accessories. Their extensive catalogue includes fire alarm systems, emergency lighting, fire extinguishers and gas detectors.

DFS have been a client of Ballyhoo's for many years now and are comfortably one of our most successful e-commerce websites. When the time came to re-design their website the owners wanted to continue using our e-commerce system, Ballyhoo Commerce, and asked us to build a new template for their website based on a design they had produced.

The new Discount Fire Supplies website design is clearly a step up from their old design yet it retains their branding and many items will be familiar to existing customers.

Notably, the new design takes the concept of colour-coding the many product categories on the website to a new level. This theme had been tentatively explored in the previous design but has now been fully utilised. Customers using the site will soon identify red with fire detection products and green with emergency lighting for example.

The home page is understandably the most important page on the website as this is where a potential customer will either decide to stay on the site or look elsewhere. An eye-catching slideshow on the homepage instantly attracts the customers attention and conveys a number of tempting messages - Same Day Dispatch, Free Support, Secure Online Ordering and Free Delivery - designed to instill confidence in their purchase.

Customers are also encouraged to join the Discount Fire Supplies community and visit the DFS blog, follow DFS on Twitter and take the opportunity to sign up for the free DFS newsletter.

The sheer number of fire safety products on this website means that users need to be able to find what they are looking for quickly and easily. The new design makes use of a drop-down category menu allowing customers to browse the majority of product categories without leaving the page.

Clicking on a main product category, like Fire Alarms for example, directs the customer to a clear and defined page outlining the sub-categories. Each sub-category has an image thumbnail to make identification that bit quicker and these pages are a real pleasure to browse.

Product pages have been given a makeover too and are designed to be a clear as possible. Large product images, highlighted prices and pronounced add to basket buttons combine to make the page inviting and straightforward.

Product descriptions have been condensed into tabs too. When adding a product to the site Discount Fire Supplies have the ability to split the full description into as many tabs as required, including Summary, Specification and FAQs. This layout means that users don't have to scroll down a huge page and allows them to quickly find the information they need.

At the foot of the website on every page users are reminded of the value Discount Fire Supplies bring to their purchase, whether through the assurance of secure online payments through SagePay or the promise of swift dispatch. Users can also find links to information about the company and their contact details are always on hand if they need assistance.

We're really proud of this website and the team at Discount Fire Supplies are delighted with their new modern website. To accommodate a number of the design features we had to add develop Ballyhoo Commerce further and re-work existing parts of the system, something we are happy to do when we feel the requested changes will benefit the system as a whole.

In fact, this is one of the major advantages of using our e-commerce system, we are able to quickly and effectively build in new features and functionality to suit our customers and often we will do this free of charge or at a subsidised rate.

Wordpress Blog Design

As part of the recent redevelopment of Discount Fire Supplies we created a new custom template for their Wordpress blog.

Blogs are a fantastic addition to any website. While they are a good way to provide interest for your customers and create a community around your business, they also have many search engine optimisation benefits such as the regular introduction of fresh content and the inclusion of more keywords on your site.

We would recommend that anybody selling online includes a regular blog on their website.

Discount Fire Supplies have a very active blog and they usually post at least two items a week. They have been using Wordpress ever since they decided to introduce a blog to the website. With such a large volume of posts Wordpress has worked well for them and provided control and flexibility through a feature-rich control panel.

As part of the main website redevelopment the blog needed to be brought up to date to match the new website design too.

This new Wordpress template matches the new DFS website design in appearance and also includes dynamic content such as the shopping basket summary and category navigation meaning customers can switch seamlessly between the main website and the blog.

Ballyhoo Commerce has a number of essential blog features that can give the average online shop owner the ability to have their own blog on their website. If, however, you are planning to be very proactive with your blog we would recommend using Wordpress or a similar system to give you the features you need.

Some online sellers might be tempted to have a Wordpress site for their main website and simply use an extension or plugin to give them e-commerce functionality. We would not recommend this however as if you are selling online you need a robust and secure platform for your shop.

Essentially having two sites with matching templates gives you the flexibility and control needed to manage a successful e-commerce venture.

Email Template Design

Brief

Discount Fire Supplies isNewsletter an online retailer of fire alarms and other emergency products. To compliment their website and existing marketing efforts they wanted to reach out to customers through a monthly email newsletter highlighting the best of their blog and new additions to their website. The newsletter needed to be sent through a sophisticated email campaign package to allow Discount Fire Supplies to monitor the success of their email campaigns.

Design

Discount Fire Supplies is an established company and as such they have a clear company brand. We used their existing branding and website design to inspire the style and layout of their custom email template.

The final newsletter template design is clearly associated with Discount Fire Supplies at first glance. Our designer worked within the constraints of the way email clients like Outlook and Gmail render HTML emails to create an email design that is clean and flowing yet features all the aspects needed.

A major part of the newsletter is the customer incentive to receive a discount on discountfiresupplies.co.uk by using a special code. The number of times a discount code is used is a great way of measuring an email campaign's success so it needed to be very prominent in the design.

News articles feature a large image thumbnail as well as a bold title, an excerpt from the original article and a Read More link to encourage recipients to visit the website. Additionally, the inclusion of clear category icons in the footer of the newsletter template further encourages recipients to visit the website - as well as providing a hit of colour and visual interest.

Development

The first part of development involved taking the finished email design and coding a template to be used with our email campaign software. The constraints of email clients like Outlook and Gmail mean that building a newsletter template is quite different to the way we build websites. Often, the tools we use to style the varying elements of a website's design are too advanced for an email template so we have to go back to basics to ensure the design renders correctly.

With development complete we commenced thorough testing of the email template in an exhaustive range of email clients and devices. This is an extremely important aspect of the development process as it ensures that 99.9% of Discount Fire Supplies' newsletter recipients will be able to see the email the way it was intended. The range of email clients tested include desktop clients such as Outlook (all versions), web-based email clients like Gmail and Hotmail and mobile devices such as iPhones, Android smartphones and Blackberrys.

With testing complete and any issues ironed out we uploaded the final newsletter template to our web-based email campaign software. This advanced system allows Discount Fire Supplies to edit and send new email campaigns using an intuitive control panel. When we built the template we set a number of content elements to be editable, such as titles, text, image thumbnails and links - when Discount Fire Supplies wants to send a new campaign they simply have to add new content to the template, define who they want to send the campaign to and click send.

All email recipients are part of a subscriber list that is managed by the system. A form on discountfiresupplies.co.uk allows users to sign up to receive newsletters automatically and new subscribers can also be imported to the system manually at any time. It's a legal requirement to allow users to unsubscribe from your mailing list if they wish so the email template also includes an unsubscribe button to facilitate this. Any recipients who click unsubscribe are automatically removed from the Discount Fire Supplies subscriber list and won't be included in future campaigns.

Deployment

Ballyhoo are currently managing Discount Fire Supplies' newsletter campaigns in-house. Every month we review new content added to the discountfiresupplies.co.uk website, from new product ranges to interesting blog posts, to compile a list of items to include in the monthly newsletter. With content approval from our contact at Discount Fire Supplies and a final proof of the content we schedule the email campaign to be sent at the most opportune time at the beginning of the month.

Our staff are very experienced in using our email campaign software so the process of adding content to the newsletter template is quick and easy and we also ensure that the subscriber list is up-to-date by importing new contacts from discountfiresupplies.co.uk.

As part of our service we also analyse the previous month's email campaign to get a better understanding of the kind of content and links Discount Fire Supplies' customers are most interested in. Our email campaign software allows us to see exactly how many people have opened the email, where they are based, which links they clicked on and much more - even down to which type of email client they opened the message in.

Achieving a high open and click rate is very much down to a process of trial and error. The more we experiment with content, and other factors such as delivery time, the better an understanding we get of how to make each newsletter campaign as successful as possible.

How Can We Help?

If you are in need of a new website, a revamp for your existing website, development to work responsively or anything related to websites and the internet in general then feel free to get in touch. Any member of the Ballyhoo team will be happy to help and can be contacted by telephone on 0121 222 5780, email to hello@ballyhoo.co.uk or via the contact form on our contact page.

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