13 September 2017

Your new (digital) home

Feature promotion | PPC88 September 2017

Moving home is always scary, especially when you share it with 600+ members. A website is more than a digital presence – it’s the interconnected home of a membership organisation, its members and affiliates. Oh, and BPCA’s home gets nearly a million visitors per year looking for pest advice. Scott Johnstone, BPCA Content and Communications Officer elaborates...

our new digital home banner

Now that we’re officially moved, we take a quick look at the moving process, designing our dream property, choosing the fixtures and fittings, boxing up our precious belongings, and getting settled.

Hopefully, you’ve had a chance to have a good nosey around the new digs by now. We’ve had an open house since mid-June.

Why move anyway?

From the moment I started with BPCA, I had a close eye on our web presence. Our website should be something our members are proud of and a shining example of our ethos, strategic intent and history. We needed to go back to the drawing board and invest in something that was going to demonstrate the professionalism of the sector, enhance the profile of our work as an association, and increase commercial opportunities for our members.

Ben Massey, BPCA Marketing and Communications Manager

Digital home 4No matter how much you love your old home, eventually you’ll spend more time addressing the cracks in the wall than actually developing your space for the future. Simply put, the site was looking dated and we were falling behind the technology of the day. It doesn’t take too long for a website to become uninhabitable. If we didn’t ‘move home’ we could have easily lost traffic (visitors), conversions (referrals), and members would begin to feel that their website was no longer representative of them.

More than this, BPCA has aims to develop and innovate, especially in terms of digital engagement. In the ‘digital first’ age of membership organisations we needed to completely rebuild our website so that the foundations would be strong enough to support our future plans.

In short, we needed more than just a pot of paint.

So in September last year, we selected a partner to help us build our new dream home. We invited some of the best web developers in the country to come to the offices and show us what they do. Eventually, we picked Senior – an award winning web developer and design agency to build us something from scratch.

design of bpca websiteA design

For any organisation, a website is your 21st century equivalent of a shop front. It has to entice people inside so we can engage with them and show them what we have to offer. For a trade association a website needs to do more. It needs to feel like a home away from home for your members – somewhere you’re happy to be and call your own.

This starts with the design. A modernised look and user-friendly style were essentials for the BPCA site. Our previous site was starting to be unwieldy, with corridors and rooms spidering out into the garden. We were losing the test of time. Nothing short of a complete rethink of the design would keep our cyberhome fit-for-purpose for years to come.

In the same way that many people who are house-hunting have a Pinterest board of ‘beautiful homes’, we had an enormous folder of screenshots from other people’s sites we liked. When you start talking about a site’s ‘impressive use of line spacing’ then you know your geeky scrapbook of ideas is ready and your new website is going to take over your life.

Our chosen developers lead the way in membership creative design, so after we’d spent some time talking through what BPCA and its members needed, they came back to us with a look and feel that we thought represented all of us. 

And design isn’t just about looking pretty – a good design helps you navigate to the pages you want quickly, encourages people to read more information and stick with a site longer.

For about a month, we went back and forward, making sure that we’d got the look and usability right. We showed them our favourite pages of PPC magazine for inspiration. We pushed for more colours, more images, a bolder expression of what BPCA is. After all, it’s not every day you get to design the home of a 75-year-old association!

You can’t please everyone. Design is completely subjective, but there are some universal rules of design that (almost) everyone will like. That’s where working with professionals helps. They know what works intuitively and through experience. Fashions change on the web faster than the housing market – however, we think we’ve found something that will look and feel contemporary and usable for years to come.

Choosing the appliances

Now that we knew what our site would look like, it was time to look at the appliances (or, in website terms – modules).

The modules we chose would allow us to do important things that go beyond showing text and images on a page. They’d allow us to have bookable events and training, they’d be how we integrated our A-Z of pests, staff profiles and show our history and achievements, as well as dictating how members would engage with us.

Some of our bigger appliances

News and blog

One of our favourite new appliances is the news module. It allows us to quickly post beautiful news and blog updates so the site always feels alive with content. We wanted BPCA to be your number one place for industry, sector and business articles, as well as give members a platform to tell the world what you’ve been doing. We’ve added a comments section, so users can now interact with the news we publish.

News and blog

A-Z of pests

This module allows us to have a searchable database of pests, where the general public can find independent pest advice. All the advice gently recommends appointing a professional pest controller and allows you to jump straight into the find a pest controller tool. Now the A-Z has more pictures, is fully searchable and works well on a mobile phone or tablet.

bpca.org.uk/a-z

Member area

The improved members area gives you an ‘at a glance’ view of all the information you need to know, as well as present links to information and tools for your business. You can manage your communication preferences and listing on ‘Find a Pest Controller’ here too.

Member area

Training and events

These modules let us have searchable training and events hubs so people can see what’s coming up in their area and get involved easier than ever before. Our training is broken down in tabs, so you can find the information about a programme quicker.

Training  Events

Jobs

BPCA has always been the place to go for pest control jobs. Now with our new jobs module, it’s easier than ever to find a job you might like to apply for or post a free job advert. For members, it’s free and you also benefit from additional personalisation. Non-members incur a charge.

Jobs

Getting ready to move

The problem with any house move is you realise how much stuff you’ve managed to accumulate over the years.

You could just throw all your stuff in boxes and put it back up roughly where it was in the old home – but what you’ll find is that your belongings don’t quite look right in the new space. More than this, lots of different people have added to the stuff in the house over the years, so nothing necessarily harmonises like it should. And obviously, just because you liked something back when you got it, it doesn’t mean it’s right for your home.

Over 600 pages of copy were rewritten, condensed and moved

There’s no point in having a good design if your content isn’t up to scratch. We challenged every sentence on the old site, discarding what was no longer relevant and upcycled anything that needed a new lease of life. 

Spring cleaning in cyberspace is tricky. Change too much, too quickly and you risk being punished by search engines and users struggling to find the information they used to have to hand. For us, that meant revisiting a lot of legacy content.

2,000+ redirects put in place

The problem with moving an organisation is that people might struggle to find you. We literally looked back across two years worth of website visits and made sure that anywhere anyone had found us would still link to an equivalent page on the new site.

Again, search engines are the enemy here. Without doing this (very dull) work, there was a chance that BPCA could have disappeared from the internet completely when we moved. With huge websites like nhs.uk, gov.uk, BBC.co.uk and council authorities linking to us, plus hundreds of thousands of organic Google referrals at stake, it was worth getting it right first time!

Hundreds of new stock images selected and edited

Just because it looked good in your Victorian cottage, doesn’t mean it’ll look right in your new modern townhouse. We secured stock, created new callouts, and furnished the site with all the shiny new things you’d expect from a professional trade association’s digital home. After all, the better we look, the better our members look.

Imagery is an incredibly important part of website work. Good stock instantly reassures people that they’re in the right place, enhances an organisation message, and if done right, tells a story itself.

Proof, test, repeat

Moving home is a collaborative job. Staff colleagues, professional contacts and members of the Board were all given a metaphorical paint brush and feather duster.
Before hitting the go button, we put time and effort into making sure everything worked as intended and that the new content was properly checked over. With over 100,000 words of copy this was no small task!

Everyone knows that half the point of a housewarming party is for your nearest and dearest to cast an appraising eye on your new space – and when you’re expected a good 70,000 visitors in your first month, you’ve really got to pull out all the stops. Nothing draws traffic to a site more than a new launch, so we needed to be sure we were putting our best foot forward for the big day.

Moving day and getting settled

No matter how well you prepare, something is bound to go wrong when you’re in. Something that was working perfectly on your last visit, has mysteriously stopped working now you’ve picked up the keys. The smoke alarm beeps in the night and nobody knows why. No matter how hard you try, you can’t change the time on the cooker. The family dog just won’t get on with the neighbour’s cat.

A website’s no different. Error messages that you’ve never seen before pop-up. Things that used to work with the old site won’t play nicely with the new one. You find a mistake that you (and everyone else on your team) has managed to miss during the last three months of testing.

You prioritise the bugs list, call up everyone involved and tick them off one at a time. Oh, and you’ll always need your credit card to hand for something in that first month.

Digital home 2Further developments

It’s a couple of weeks after the moving vans have left. You’re sitting on your sofa and finally relaxing a little. Then, all of a sudden, a little voice in your head says “what about granite worktops in the kitchen?” or “maybe I should paint the bathroom?”. Now you’ve moved in, the real work begins.

We’ve already got plans (big and small) for improving the website and giving members even more value from the site. Here’s just a little sneak peek…

Profile pages

With the new referral tool will come organisational profile pages. We’ll start by rolling them out for all Servicing Members, and then if there’s interest, pages for M&D and Consultant Members too.

PPC Online

We love the paper copy of the magazine arriving on our desks, and we won’t be changing that anytime soon (especially considering we just got a lovely award for it, see page 8). What we will be doing is giving it a digital home on our website so we can reach even more people in the sector, and track it.

Find a pest controller

It’s one of our biggest membership benefits for Servicing Members, having dished out the equivalent of £16m worth of referrals last year alone. We’re going to make it even better. Senior has been developing a new application that we think will literally ‘put our members on the map’ – watch this space.

Digital home 1Thinking about moving your digital home yourself?

We’ve put together some top tips for turning your dream website into a reality.

  • Be realistic. Unless you’re really willing to put the time and effort into making something yourself, you’ll need the help of a professional to make your site a reality (and they cost money).
  • Scrapbook good ideas. Even if you’re not going to be doing anything about getting a new site anytime soon, keep a folder of screenshots from elements of other websites you like. When the time comes to commission a design, you’ll have some idea of what you want.
  • Improve content. Get the content of your old site in order before you start moving it over to the new one. If you can get all the information on your current site reading well, it’ll be easier on moving day.
  • Contingency planning. Be prepared for things to go wrong. Something won’t work like you’d like it to. Take a breath, prioritise, and then chase suppliers for a solution.
  • Choose a simple design. Something that’s clean and mobile ready. Most people will find your website on their phones or tablets rather than a traditional desktop. Have a ‘mobile first’ strategy.
  • Expect to expend effort. Even if you pay someone to design you a site - expect to do a lot of the grunt work yourself. Unless you’re paying the big money, be prepared to choose stock, input data and content, and generally do the thousand little admin jobs a website move entails.
  • What would YOU like? Make something you and your customers love. A good website adds legitimacy for your brand, helps manage expectations and creates new, organic sales leads. It’s worth working hard to get it right.
  • Think about visitors. Make the site for them. Try and really get into the mindset of the people who will be using your site.

Give us feedback

We’re always looking for your feedback so we can keep improving our web presence. Send your suggestions to us and we’ll see if we can get planning permission.

Contact us

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Scott-Johnstone-Staff-bubbleScott Johnstone
Content and Communications Officer

15 September 2017  |  PPC88

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