Launch - Arcturus Books - The Local Bookshop at the Heart of Totnes

October 9, 2019

We love working with local businesses, especially when they have such a clear vision of what they are looking to achieve both offline and online. So when Arcturus Books asked us to help them develop their brand and improve their online presence in July 2019 we got stuck in.

A Traditional Business Embraces Cutting-Edge Technology

Based on the high street in Totnes (Devon), Arcturus Books are well known and appreciated by the local community as they have faithfully served their customers for more than 30 years; providing them with a never-ending supply of inspirational reads on topics like Psychology, Self Development, Spirituality and Health & Nutrition as well as their wealth of knowledge on the same.

A completely new look for a well established bookshop in Totnes, Devon (https://www.arcturusbooks.co.uk)

With Amazon and other online book sellers challenging the high street bookshop business model, you may be surprised to learn that Arcturus Books continue to grow year on year. The owners of the shop, Jo and Steve Cockburn, took over the running of the shop in late 2018 and have given it the due care and attention it deserves to make it a worthy visit whenever you visit the town centre. But what of the brand and the website?

The first goal was to create a new logo which captured the magic of the books and the essence of the business and so we set to work researching ideas and presenting versions to Jo and Steve. The final version - shown below - combines elements which, collectively, encourage the viewer to look closely, make discoveries, dive deeper, ask questions, and smile at the playfulness therein which is exactly what the bookshop is also there to do.

Satisfied with the logo and new brand colours, we worked with Jo and Steve to define the scope of the website project including setting a budget, defining the content to be displayed on its pages and listing the features the website needed to provide value to its visitors.

Between us, we decided to create a multi-phased rollout of the new brand and website with the first phase focusing on the creation of a CMS-enabled website in Webflow so that the owners and staff alike could update the website content as they needed, keeping it fresh and interesting.

After a design collaboration round, it was then agreed that a sensible starting point for this particular website centred around a high quality template rather than starting from scratch. This was a great move by Arcturus Books because it meant that their budget could be spread out and spent on other important aspects of the project like sourcing fantastic images for the website and spending time adding details on 100+ books including a set of highly optimised book cover images. This optimisation exercise alone has ensured a much faster website experience for its visitors and customers alike - especially on smartphones which, as I’m sure you know, is essential for the success of a modern website.

As an aside, it is worth noting here for the record that the designers and developers who contribute their templates to Webflow’s ecosystem are second to none and the precision with which they create their Webflow templates is so good that we, the solutions provider, can really hit the ground running.

We use high quality, affordable and flexible templates where required (https://webflow.com/templates/cms-website-templates)

Crucially, we can change any aspect of the template - 100% visually - to suit the brand and specific project requirements which is very difficult to do with other platforms. We believe that this capability is one of Webflow’s core strengths: the fact that the elements on the design canvas are 100% configurable because they were built using the Webflow platform. It’s as if you have an extra Webflow designer on your team already and you are merely picking up where they left off! However, naturally not every project should make use of a template but what a great tool to have in your toolbelt, right?

Books are often about the words but on the website, the strong visual elements really encourage the visitor to explore

Having built the CMS solution, added the pages and content, created the products (books), devised a blog feature set, and constructed a number of collection/category pages to house the books, we were ready to launch the new website except for a few admin tasks which are vital for any launch:

  1. Deciding on the form/data handling process when capturing customer enquiries and newsletter signup requests
  2. Adding text content to the HTML elements behind-the-page which helps to keep the search engines happy (Page Titles, Meta Descriptions and so on)
  3. Adding 301 Redirects to maintain the ‘link juice’ and the search engine rankings for the pages already known by those search engines
  4. Setting up the hosting including the domain name changes
  5. Uploading a favicon and an app icon
  6. Toggling on the asset compression and minification of CSS/JS

All the above admin tasks took about an hour… no really, Webflow makes you more efficient in all aspects of your web project, not just the design of your pages and elements. I will go into website hosting in a future post because it is a vital part of any website launch but how I used to set up hosting versus how I do it now are completely poles apart and I’m very thankful of that (as are TheFlow’s clients!).

If you have read this far you are probably thinking: “Why hasn’t Glenn mentioned Ecommerce yet?” which is fair enough and so let me address that one for you. One of the awesome things about the approach we took with this website was that we could launch Arcturus Books as a CMS enabled website, but by using an Ecommerce template as the starting point, and with the Ecommerce features, effectively, switched off but why would we do that? Let me elaborate...

We all thought long and hard about the launch of this version of the website and decided that it should launch as a browsable resource, initially anyway, but complete with categories and product pages as you’d expect online. This would be sufficient to give Arcturus Books the updated web presence it deserved and, more importantly, the ‘virtual bookshop’ its customers could enjoy before they visited the shop in person.

We use the built-in Ecommerce features in Webflow to display each book product on its own page and within multiple categories

Phase Two of the project could well see the Ecommerce features enabled but the best part is that most of the work leading up to Arcturus Books having a fully enabled online shop has already been done. No need for another website platform; no need for lots of development work; no need to spend out more money than is necessary to start selling online; no need for the staff to learn a new system; just a few hours of adding the Stripe account details and other Ecommerce related tasks and Arcturus Books will be live with their online shop too.

This is the age of NoCode and true website feature modularity which doesn’t cost the earth. I will be writing more on phased approaches to launches over time because with the kind of tools available now to agencies like TheFlow, we can truly adopt the Agile Methodology and its approach to fast, cost efficient software projects which is a big win for us and our clients.

If you have struggled with flexibility and/or efficiency on your website projects why not give us a call to discuss a better way? Replatforming for an ecommerce business can be difficult but it is not rocket science - we all just need to adopt the right tools, methods and mindsets and we will get there together.

Glenn

McWhinney

Digital Strategist

Ultimately I am a peacemaker: I love taming technology, making it work hard for people; I live to help teams and businesses flourish, even to enjoy their work daily; I believe that harmony is possible in these hectic times but together we find the right path and walk it confidently towards success.

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