Helping people find the right holiday apartment
Empowering a family business to run their own website, instead of being stuck waiting on an agency in order to make the smallest changes
Principal Apartments needed to move off their existing website platform in a hurry. They were stuck with a proprietary content management system (CMS) managed by only one vendor who had to be contacted for every change. Their site wasn't mobile optimised, was haemorrhaging visitors, and their conversion rate was plummeting.
WHAT WE DID
We designed, built, and launched a new WordPress CMS with a responsive user interface in order to help Principal Apartments, and users, make the best use of the site. It is also accompanied by an apartment-finder application that helps potential renters find the optimal apartment for their needs.
Principal Apartments is a provider of short-term lease apartments for travellers, families on holiday, corporate guests, and businesses in Glasgow’s West End and City Centre. They have two markets: those they rent flats to (visitors) and those they rent on behalf of (owners).
Replacing an old website
Principal Apartments’ website was old and had a few significant issues. It was difficult to navigate, looked old fashioned, and didn’t answer the questions that their potential customers or owners had. It was focused primarily on Principal Apartments instead of being focused on their customers and how the apartments could enrich their lives and give them a better travel experience. The site was also desktop focused with a fixed width, and a heavy use of background images to provide effects that can easily be achieved in modern CSS.
The site was built by hand without an accessible content management system for Principal Apartments’ internal team to use. Every change had to go through the company that originally built the site for them. This caused no end of frustration for Principal Apartments as they wanted to make changes and updates but sometimes would have to wait weeks for a response from their provider.
Principal Apartments were also in the midst of changing their booking and management systems. These would need to be integrated in any new site that was built. This system was very specific, and an off-the-shelf integration wouldn’t work for the team at Principal Apartments.
Crucially, all of this was costing Principal Apartments time and money that would have been better spent elsewhere. The old site wasn’t converting new rentals or owners. The management of the site was frustrating and slowed down marketing velocity as new apartments were time-consuming and expensive to add. The need for a new booking system would have torn apart the existing site anyway.
Fortunately, after having been introduced at local networking events and communicating through Twitter, Powered By Coffee was able to jump in and help Principal Apartments.
We were able to completely redesign the Principal Apartments site to make it small-screen friendly and mobile-first in construction. We introduced an application to help travellers find an apartment that would suit their needs and an informational guide for holiday makers so that they could pick a part of the city that suited them. We followed an extensive process of persona development, information architecture, wire-framing, and visual compositions. We built a flexible and accessible CMS, on top of WordPress, which allowed Principal Apartments to easily and quickly manage the apartments on the site and to add marketing content. We are still involved with the project and take care of ongoing maintenance of the site, web hosting, WordPress updates, and a long term SEO campaign.
What did we do?
Responsive Design for Mobile Accessibility
We completely revitalised the look and feel of Principal Apartments’ website with a new mobile-first, responsive design that potential customers can browse the site comfortably from anywhere and on any device. People can now find apartments to book while browsing from their phones in a departure lounge or from their sofa watching Game of Thrones.
Apartment Finder Application
We transformed the simple list of apartments that Principal Apartments previously used, into an interactive and progressive search application where customers can find apartments based on criteria they supply to the form. How many beds do you need for how many people? Need WiFi or is it just a nice to have? Where in the city? This is all integrated with Google Maps so you can see exactly where you are booking an apartment and what attractions are nearby for you to enjoy during your trip.
Integration with Guestline
We integrated Principal Apartments’ new booking and apartment management system, Guestline, into the site. Guestline allows users to make bookings with Principal Apartments through their widgets.
Search Engine Optimisation
Principal Apartments exists within a crowded market. They compete not just with other serviced-apartment providers but with every other accommodation provider ranging from hotels and booking.com to AirBnB and small independent guesthouses. Everyone is competing to be seen online and we’re helping Principal Apartments generate, target, and convert traffic to their website.
The Principal Apartments’ brand assets only existed as low-resolution bitmap artwork. We took the opportunity to subtly modernise the brand . We updated the colour palette, simplified the typefaces, and redrew the logo as vector artwork that can scale to the size of a building.
To just be online isn’t enough anymore; you have to provide real value to your potential customers and build up trust with them. We helped Principal Apartments develop a strategy for producing content that will be both effective for generating search traffic and, secondarily, for building trust and converting visitors into customers.