Le boat, a holiday business, approached us with three main challenges they were facing with their existing brochure website. These were, firstly, to make improvements such that it would be more user friendly for the content editors. Secondly, our client wanted to make their website responsive to the user's device preferences i.e. mobile, tablet, laptop etc. And thirdly, to counteract the restrictions of their legacy reservation system and simplify the booking experience for the user. With many sales offices around the world we needed to ensure that the website was internationally friendly and functional for their customers all over the world.
To enable the editors to have increased flexibility without compromising on the general theme of the website we built most of the pages from a series of 'tiles'. These tiles enable content editors to add text, photos, links and videos with ease. This successfully enhances the presentation of information as the blocks ensure that there is consistency in design and that the data stored is more easily accessible to the customers as the information is in digestible chunks. Importantly, the use of these tiles also renders responsive design very simple. The tiles simply rearrange themselves with respect to the different device being used, making the content both readable and accessible on any device. Thus, proving the use of tiles to be a powerfully user friendly tool from both the content editors' and consumers' perspective.
Our client's legacy booking system was quite complex and restrictive to work with. To combat this issue a new layer was created to conceal the complexities of the legacy reservation system, resultantly, making the website more user-friendly for the costumers. This was accomplished by creating an XML feed which contains the availability of trips, this is imported twice a week and this operates in a background system process. When a customer makes a booking on the website an XML SOAP service is utilised to communicate between the website and the reservation system. The new layer constructed enables the customer to be only exposed to a very organised, clear booking system and does not have to experience the inconvenience of the legacy reservation system.
As Le Boat has sales offices all around the world, we wanted to ensure that their international customers' experiences with the website were straightforward and suited their preferences. Thus, the main website underwent localisation and various linguistically and contextually adapted versions of the main website were created. As these websites all require the same record of trip availability, all the translated sites communicate back to a separate master website. Now by using geolocation the main website automatically proposes a suitable version of the website in the customers' language.
As Le Boat provide numerous holiday options and packages the website was created with features such as grouping and facets. These features facilitate navigation- helping customers find exactly what they want. Searching the website has also been optimised by integrating Drupal with Apache Solr, which is a Java based search engine. This now enables half a million entries to be searched in fractions of a second.
We are still working with Le Boat to optimise their Drupal experience, by developing more features to their new website. For example, their new blog has up-to-date editorial dynamic content. Having such features increases the site's visibility in search engines in Google whilst also engaging users.