Clare Associates - Projects

Here you’ll find details of projects that Clare Associates has been working on.

We re-launched our own website in early 2013, and have only included a few of the projects that we have worked on since the company was set up in 2002. We hope this is enough to give you a flavour of our experience. If you’d like to know more about any of our work, please drop us a line – we’re happy to talk about it!

Google AdWords management for The Oldies Club

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The Oldies Club is one of Clare Associates’s favourite charities and one that we give a lot of our time to. They are a charity that helps to rehome older dogs – the sort of dogs that often find it difficult to find a new home. The charity is entirely run by volunteers. However, through clever use of technology, they can operate very efficiently.

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Oldies Club dog Purdie, formerly fostered by us!

One clever use of technology is Google AdWords. At any one time, Oldies Club have dozens of old dogs eligible for adoption. And they are a national charity. Advertising their available dogs in local print media (as many local dog rescues might do) across the country would be prohibitively expensive for them. However, Google makes Google AdWords advertising of up to $330 a day (about £210) available to charities absolutely free.

That’s hugely generous and it makes a big difference to The Oldies Club. We run the charity’s AdWords campaign for them, focussing on people searching Google for dogs to adopt. It’s a complicated set of campaigns, but we’ve been doing it for a while now and our continued optimisation gets results. On a typical day, Oldies AdWords ads will get something like 300 clicks. That’s 300 people a day who are looking to adopt a dog (and who perhaps had not previously thought about adopting an older dog) and who now get to see the Oldies Club website.

To find out more about AdWords for charities, click here.

Google AdWords management for Tropic Breeze

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It’s very overcast and grey here as I’m writing this. Feels like there might be a thunderstorm brewing, or at least the chance of heavy rain.

Meanwhile, I’ve been optimising AdWords campaigns for luxury holidays in the Caribbean and the Maldives for our client Tropic Breeze. All of the photos for these resorts show expanses of white sand, blue skies and crystal clear ocean plus incredibly luxurious hotel rooms.

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You won’t believe me if I say I’d probably hate it. I sunburn easily. I don’t like hot weather. Honestly, this is all true. But strange as it may sound, I do enjoy running pay-per-click campaigns for Tropic Breeze.

Tropic Breeze asked us to manage their AdWords campaigns, which are critical to their business, because a) we’re one of a handful of agencies in the southwest to have achieved Google Partner status and b) we also manage their website for them. Very few agencies are able to offer the complete package of website management and AdWords management because they are very different skills. But there are big advantages in having a single agency do both – AdWords performance can inform website development and vice versa.

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You know, I probably could run AdWords campaigns from that hotel, and it looks shaded enough for me to avoid the sunburn and not get too much glare on my laptop screen. Maybe I could even write ad text, sort out keyword lists and optimise bid adjustments from the private pool.

I feel the need to play some 10cc…

I don’t like cricket-ah…I love it-ah…I don’t like reggae-ah no no..I love it…

New Drupal site for Dartmoor Accommodation

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The latest addition to our portfolio of complex tourism-related sites is Dartmoor Accommodation.

This is the place to find “the best holiday accommodation in Dartmoor National Park in Devon”. The business is well-established but has recently come under new ownership. The new owners felt that the existing website needed replacing – it looked rather old-fashioned, didn’t provide all the functionality they needed and crucially, wasn’t mobile-friendly.

So they called in Clare Associates, and this is what we did…

Dartmoor Accommodation

We developed the site using Drupal 7, one of our favorite content management systems. With Drupal, we can create a site with lots of quick and powerful ways for users to navigate and search content. It’s also easy for Dartmoor Accommodation’s owners to manage the site and add their own content. One of Dartmoor Accommodation’s big selling points for both users and for the accommodation providers who register with them is that they produce a lot of original content in the form of reviews and blog posts. Original and interesting content like this gives users a reason to come to this site over most of their rivals – and helps with organic search engine positioning.

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The site is responsive so that it’s easier to use on different devices and in particular smartphones and tablets – increasingly the most popular way for people to access travel sites.

 

New WordPress website for a Looe-based lettings agency

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For smaller businesses, websites that work are not just about getting people to the website.  It’s also about making sure the website can be managed as quickly and easily as possible – because every minute struggling with a difficult interface could be a minute when business is being lost or customers are not getting the service they deserve.

Fisher Management, a Looe-based lettings agency with 25 years experience, has two strong selling points: excellent customer service and loads of experience in the South East Cornwall property market.  Putting property details up on the website needed to be as quick and easy a process as possible, so that Ross Fisher, the business owner, can concentrate on his core business.
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Ross told us that he found the Zoopla property management form the easiest to use of all those he had tried  – so we built a clean, attractive and simple-to-manage WordPress website for him that incorporated an ‘add a property’ form that was closely modelled on the Zoopla approach, without requiring a complex and expensive custom build.   And yes, it adapts to work on mobile phones.

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New website for Joshua Preston Marine and Heavy Engineers

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It’s always nice to work on very local jobs, especially when the business concerned is a true leader in their field.

Joshua Preston Marine and Heavy Engineers  are based just a couple of miles from our office. They carry out a range of heavy engineering work, mostly of a marine nature, but what they really wanted their new website to promote was their range of aluminium workboats. Mr Preston himself is a real evangelist for the virtues of aluminium boats (“Better than steel. Better than fibreglass.”).

Our brief was therefore to produce a website that communicated the strengths of these aluminium workboats and the qualities of this small, but specialised and established engineering firm.

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We built the site using the WordPress content management system. It’s a fully responsive design (that is, it adapts to different display resolutions and works well on smartphones and tablets). Just as importantly, it’s easy for Mr Preston to update – he can edit text and add new images after only a very brief training session.

Certain pages feature this ‘blueprint montage’ that we created as a background – a nice alternative to a plain background, and one that helps to reinforce the message of the site.

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Closer Cornwall : a website to share the wonders of South East Cornwall

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We’re delighted to announce the launch of the new Cornwall : Closer Than You Think website.  Created for the South East Cornwall Tourism Association, Cornwall, Closer Than You Think is designed to show the world the fabulous beaches, wild moors, superb fishing, and amazing adventures on offer in South East Cornwall – and, we hope, will tempt you to come and visit.

Closer Cornwall

The site is still a work in progress: we are expecting more pages on Beaches, more late availability offers and lots more photos to appear as the site develops.  But we hope there is already enough here to give you a flavour of this unique and special part of the country.

We developed this website using Drupal 7, which is one of our favorite content management systems.  It allows us to create a site with lots of quick and powerful  ways to navigate and search content and also to allow the site to be managed by the SECTA committee.   The site is responsive so that it’s easier to use on different devices and in particular the all important mobile phones and tablets which are increasingly the most popular way for people to navigate travel websites.

Website Relaunch for designer swimwear brand

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Marianna G Swimwear is an exciting new designer swimwear brand.  We had previously built a website for them using the WordPress content management system and the Woocommerce online shop system, and they were keen to bring a new look to it for 2015.

We worked with the lovely Terry Bailey of Bailey4Design and Marianna G to pull together their design ideas into a website and online with a fresh new simple feel, where the stunning product photos would not be eclipsed by fussy design elements.  The WordPress layout was pared down to  a stylishly minimal effect very different from any default style, and tested extensively on multiple platforms and devices.

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A new website for Cadson Manor

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Cadson Manor offers five star gold B&B and four star self Catering accommodation, and is run and owned by Brenda Crago from her family home in South East Cornwall. The original website for Cadson Manor had been created over a decade ago, and although it had been updated periodically, it was looking very tired and did not reflect the quality brand and experience that Brenda has created.

The brief was to create an elegant, soft, relaxed look for the website, with a floral motif to fit in with the fresh flowers and gardens that are a distinctive feature of a stay at Cadson Manor. We were also asked to re-write the content to give the website a more enticing feel and better search engine friendliness. We created content about golf, local history and places to visit around the area to make the site feel more complete.
Cadson Manor
Click to see it live.
The site does of course adapt to different display resolutions and works well on phones and tablets.

You may notice the parrot on the floral motif subtly shown in grey top right – this was inspired by the Cadson Manor parrot Jewson, who is sometimes introduced to those guests who would like to meet him. We felt Jewson was part of the unique charm of Cadson Manor, and should be reflected in the design.

Google My Business and directories for Simon Earp Building Contractors

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A common problem for many ‘bricks and mortar’ businesses is that although they are great at what they do, what they do doesn’t translate very smoothly to the online world.

One example – literally dealing with bricks and mortar in this case – is our new client Simon Earp Building Contractorsprofilepic

They are a family run building company, producing well-built, beautifully finished houses and extensions across Cornwall.  Their expertise lies in making sure that their customers have water-tight roofs, not building an exciting online experience.      All they want or need from the internet is to make sure that their customers can find them, and that when they do, they can see a good range of photos of the kind of work they do and the quality of the work available.

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To make sure this will happen, we have set up a Google Plus / Google My Business page for the company (currently, as I write, awaiting the confirmation postcard before it goes fully live – although the business can boast 30 years experience,  because the company had no online presence at all before their first website went live last month, we could not do confirmation by telephone.)   We’ve also checked that the local and national directory services know about the business, and of course told them about the new website too.

Businesses like Simon Earp Building Contractors can lose out in a world where everything is online.  But it’s not a big job to get this sorted out with the help of web professionals, and once everything is set up, the business should not have to spend a lot of scarce time on maintaining it.   If your business is in a similar mould, we’re happy to have a chat with you about the options available.  And if you are in Cornwall and are in need of a new roof or a wonderful balcony, you now know who to call!

New responsive ecommerce site for ‘The Shop on the Borderlands’

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The Shop on the Borderlands is a brand new website, developed by Clare Associates, selling secondhand, classic and out-of-print roleplaying games* online.

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We produced the site using the WordPress content management system and the WooCommerce ecommerce plugin from WooThemes. That’s a very powerful combination for an ecommerce site and also a very well-supported one. Crucially for the business owner, both WordPress and the WooCommerce plugin are very easy to maintain. Once the shop is built, you won’t need to be an expert web developer to keep your stock up to date and handle orders.

We built this site from the ground up with one key objective – we want to make it as easy as possible for visitors to the site to find what they want to and then to buy it. With several hundred different products in stock, that first point – making it easy to find what you’re looking for – is vital.

We decided early on that since this was first and foremost a shop, the home page of the website should simply be the shop page rather than an introduction to the business. We have a simple one line explanation at the top of the page (“Welcome to the UK’s best selection of second hand and out-of-print role-playing games. Wish you’d bought that boxed set, adventure or supplement that you saw in a tiny games shop in 1985 and never found again? Well, now you can.”) and a link at the bottom of the page to “About The Shop on the Borderlands”. Apart from that, what most visitors will see when they first arrive is different categories of product, arranged both as a simple list on the left of the page and as a grid of images in the centre.

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The entire site – but especially this page – has been designed to be responsive, and works just as well at different resolutions and screen shapes, for example on smartphones.

Because of the shape of smartphones and their touchscreens, people are more likely to scroll down a long page than they would be on a laptop. So on a smartphone, the Shop on the Borderlands site is tall and thin and scrollable, and this is achieved without having to have a separate mobile site. (Separate mobile sites cost more to maintain, don’t perform as well in search engine rankings and make it awkward to share links with users who aren’t using mobile devices.)

 

 

 

 

The shop’s customers will mostly be enthusiasts who know what these categories mean, so we make it very easy for someone who plays ‘Call of Cthulhu’ to click through to a list of all the Call of Cthulhu products on sale.

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Clicking on any of the products takes you to the detailed entry for that product complete with one or more images and more details about the item and its condition.

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WooCommerce makes stock control easy. Items that are sold out can be set to show as ‘out of stock’ or hidden until new stock arrives, according to the wishes of the business owner.

Because the site was developed using WordPress – a content management system famous for its ease of use – editing individual pages is very easy for the business owner. If you can edit a Word document, you can edit a WordPress webpage. With this site, the business owner was able to do much of the site development himself – entering product details, uploading product images, writing the text on the FAQ page etc. If you hire a web developer to build you a website and you’re looking to keep costs down, this can be very effective. (Of course if you’re just starting up a new business, you might be short on both cash and time…)

 

A couple of other things you’ll have to think about if you’re starting a new ecommerce business, or if you’re taking your existing business online for the first time: shipping and payment.

First of all, what will you charge for shipping? Will you charge different rates for different products (heavier ones for example)? Will you ship overseas? If so, which countries? And what will your rates be to those? if you’ve never sold online before and if you’ve never exported before, those are difficult questions to answer. You will need to research this properly. You should also talk to your web developer – the more complicated the shipping costs setup, the more work there is for the developer in setting this up. Also, even using something like WooCommerce, you may have to purchase extra plugins to handle the particular distinctions in shipping costs that you want.

The Shop on the Borderlands ships worldwide. They offer free shipping to UK orders of £20 or more, with a flat rate of £2.50 below that amount. European shipping is charged at a flat rate of £12. Shipping to the rest of the world costs £15 plus £5 per item (reflecting the extra costs of worldwide shipping).

Secondly, how will you take payment online? Online shoppers will expect to pay by debit or credit card. Depending on the sort of customers you have, they may want to pay by PayPal too. To take payments online, you need a payment gateway. There are dozens of different payment gateways out there that can integrate with WooCommerce. You will need to research which one is right for you. They each charge you different amounts for each transaction. Some have a monthly fee, some don’t. We will be able to advise which is right for your business. As a rule though, avoid ones where your site handles card data. You want all of the card data handling to be done by big businesses who spend lots of money on IT security, even if it means that the customer leaves your website for a moment to enter their card details.

For The Shop on the Borderlands, we recommended PayPal Standard as the payment gateway as it offered the best combination of low fees and the ability to pay by PayPal, something which would be important for many of the shop’s customers.

 

One final thing that we did for The Shop on the Borderlands was to design a logo for them. The owner had a vague idea in his mind of what sort of theme he was going for – something inspired by the covers of  late 70s / early 80s Dungeons & Dragons books – but not much else. So we were able to design an original logo with a similar typeface, the ‘S’ turned into a dragon, and a horned helmet at a jaunty angle perched on the ‘B’. Oh, and as a final little gimmick, the image at the top of the page changes ever so slightly every time!

 

* Games like Dungeons & Dragons that you play with like-minded individuals and funny-shaped dice.