We have been the primary development team for the Rough Guides website for over 4 years, which means we are almost constantly building new features, improving current functionality and fixing bugs. However, we recently completed a full, responsive front-end rebuild of their website and ecommerce platform which was launched in January.

Rough Guides Screenshots

The beautiful designs were done in-house by the Rough Guides team and it was our task to build them into the existing WordPress website. Although the project was essentially a front-end rebuild, we took the opportunity to restructure a lot of the back-end code, which was starting to get messy and cumbersome.

Increasing performance

We rebuilt the website to take on as much of an MVC structure that WordPress would allow which has resulted in a much more manageable codebase. The new front-end has helped reduce page load times and increase performance, as shown on the graph below.

errorsReducing errors

As well as increasing the transaction speed, we also worked to decrease the error rate on the website. The old website was running a mobile detection (and presenting an m.roughguides.com version of the website. This browser detection was done using a plugin, which contributed to a number of errors – removing this and unused functions resulted in a much lower error rate.

Dealing with legacy content

We were faced with a lot of challenges during the rebuild. One of the toughest was dealing with legacy content particularly for Galleries and ‘Things not to miss’ pages, as they were changed from carousels to scrolling pages.

Due to the new design, the old way that the information was input and stored wasn’t going to give us the freedom to manipulate the data to match the designs. Our solution was to write a simple database script that looped through all of the required fields and restructured it to match the new design. This meant that new galleries could be posted using the updated format, whilst still keeping the old posts.

We love working with Rough Guides as they’re top clients and we can’t wait to continue working with them into 2017 and beyond.

Our Work

Take a look at some examples of our recent web design and development projects.

Eagle Activities

Eagle Activities came to us because their previous website was looking a little dated and needed a complete redesign and rebuild.

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Tourism App Development

Our customised tourism apps are all about improving the experience of your visitors. With general information, photos, videos, audio and interactive quizzes to keep the children entertained – you can give your visitors everything they need at the touch of a button.

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Rough Guides eBook Processing

Shortly after the launch of their new website, Rough Guides asked us to build a secure ecommerce platform that allows their customers to purchase digital versions of their travel guides. A core requirement of this platform was the ability to apply light DRM watermarks to each ebook at the time of purchase.

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  • Since the redevelopment of www.smartraspberry.com we have had great feedback from our customers and we have seen a significant increase in both new and returning traffic to our website. This is no doubt due to the team’s superb design work, and because Scott and Gavin really listened to our brief and specific needs, for what is a reasonably niche business model. Throughout the process the Ecommnet team have been friendly, flexible and a pleasure to work with.

    — Ellie Campbell, Business Manager, Smart Raspberry
  • Since the relaunch of www.roughguides.com in 2013, the monthly visits have reached 2,400,000 from a starting point of 200,000. This growth has been achieved through a cross-functional team effort of which Ecommnet have formed an integral part, providing their development and build expertise.

    As a web professional with significant experience working alongside agencies, I recommend Ecommnet without hesitation.

    — John Wood, Senior Product Manager, Dorling Kindersley
  • Ecommnet work in a very collaborative manner, they took the time to listen carefully to our ideas and requirements and to fully understand Squashed Tomato’s whole business.  They were then able to not only meet the remit but to also contribute valid, informed suggestions to further enhance the website’s contribution to our business.

    I highly recommend Ecommnet as a website partner.  Robert Campbell has built a strong team who are professional and friendly to work with.  Communication is very good; they listen as well as inform and obviously communicate well between the team too.

    — Zoe York, Director, Squashed Tomato
  • The Ecommnet team worked extremely well throughout the process – at all times ensuring they fully understood the brief and the numerous changes and adaptations that were made along the way. They were impressive as they were happy to try new methods in producing the App, resulting in one CMS that was able to populate both android and apple platforms.

    At all times they were extremely conscientious replying to all queries on the same day – and were very patient in dealing with ‘not so tech savvy’ customers.

    I would fully recommend Ecommnet.

    — Alison Lloyd, Duty Officer, Margam Country Park
  • I’ve nothing but praise for Robert and the team and despite their long trading history have seen how they have maintained a strong, exciting and invigorating culture of success within their business which, for me, having had 20 years in application development is often more important than pure technical capability as it’s this consultative and empathetic approach which extracts the requirements from non-IT staff to enable Ecommnet to design and deliver a stronger better product.

    — Jason R Wilkinson, Head of Business Transformation, Westfield Health
  • We wanted an interesting and engaging website with new features that motorsport fans would enjoy looking at. The website is fresh, easy to navigate and appealing.

    — Stephen Kilbey, Strakka Racing
  • You always hope that when you bring in a third party, they have your goals in mind. Ecommnet engaged with us and were committed to helping us achieve our ambitions, not trying to upsell. As budget-holder, I was particularly impressed with their transparency; they quoted on an hourly basis, not by the day. This meant that we could prioritise the work, rethink our plans, make decisions and confidently justify them to our stakeholders.

    — Liz Statham, Web Director, Rough Guides
  • The team were a pleasure to work with in designing a new website for Squashed Tomato.  They understood the requirements of the site and the brand image we wanted to portray.  Their strength has always been in functionality, our requirements were relatively simple but I liked the way they didn’t try to make things more complex.  The new team has strengthened the design skills of the business and we were delighted with the look of the website.  Working with Ecommnet was a partnership.

    — Zoë York, Director, Squashed Tomato
  • Ecommnet was able to create and deliver an all-new website that has in a short space of time received many compliments and generated enquiries. The team is accessible, helpful and responsive and have removed the ‘pain’ of IT. We were so pleased that they’re now entrusted to look after all our IT infrastructure.

    — Nick Bailey, Director, Elan PR
  • Within just a month of launch, we’re seeing a 60% increase in visitors and page views are up by 35%.

    — Adrian Low, Web Development Manager, Rough Guides
  • The team were a breath of fresh air; they understand our business, how to integrate with our processes and infrastructure and work with the regulatory representatives to define what was compliant – we didn’t want them developing in the dark and coming back with something that wasn’t fit for purpose. They turned out to be more than just developers.

    — Rough Guides