60 Seconds With…

An interview with Eve Ashwell from Virgin Balloon Flights about their new website and the challenges faced when launching a new site.

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Virgin Balloon Flights Eve Ashwell, Virgin Balloon Flights

Balloon lovers will hopefully have noticed the arrival of a new www.virginballoonflights.co.uk website.

If you haven’t already, head over there now and grab a fantastic experience before the flying season is over this year (or just book up in advance for next year!).

As with most website redesigns, the new site is the result of a lot of hard work and planning and we wanted to invite Eve to share some of her experiences as site redesigns are something that happens to us all.

We would like to thank Eve for finding the time to respond to our questions during a very busy time and hope that her experiences help anyone else planning a website redesign.

Watch out for future ’60 seconds with…’ posts in the future or sign up to our newsletter to know when they have been published.

What are the key objectives for the new site?

It is hoped that new site will deliver a new look and feel for Virgin Balloon Flights with a site that sits comfortably amongst the rest of the Virgin group company websites and represents the brand in a clear and positive way.
A complete overhaul of SEO will ultimately lead to better search results making it easier for our customers to find exactly what they want quickly with fewer steps to checkout.  The site has been completely rebuilt with a firm focus on ease of navigation, enriched content, greater variety of products and a much more engaging and interactive experience. New functionality to assist the customer along their journey through our site means a greater level of customer service.
With lots of emphasis on social media our new site is far from just a shop front but a place to learn about what we do and how we do it. Our aim was to stand out within our marketplace making us a clear choice for the customer, we hope that this has been achieved.

What have been the biggest challenges during the process?

The process has been a steady one. The new incarnation of the site is not the first new incarnation. Many lessons were learned along the way however by choosing a development team that took the time to thoroughly learn about us and our business inside out eventually gave us the best result.
It is important to leave no stone unturned during the early stages of setting out what exactly it is you want your new site to be able to achieve from marketing, technical and customer points of view.

Which aspects of the project took more time than anticipated?

In the case of the first new incarnation of our site the most time consuming element was ensuring that the new database was able to cope with the extremely complex nature of the kinds of queries and processes that were being asked of it.
This was overcome in the new site that you see today where thanks to some great design and conscientious development we have a very neat and clean site.

What would you do differently if you could wind back the clock?

There is a big difference between web design and ecommerce website development.
If you have a complex site that must perform many complex tasks ensure that both design and development teams are singing from the same hymn sheet.
You can ask for the world in terms of what you might like your new site to do but above all logic and simplicity go along way.

Where did SEO fit in to the plans?

We knew from day one that improving the SEO on the site was vital. Everything about the new site was done with SEO in mind as we were keen not to lose any existing search gains we had made over the preceding 7 years of the site’s existence so it was important to have a strategy in place that would ensure a positive transition from old site to new.

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