Thai venture turns to Shropshire business’s expertise for new website

Two Shropshire based companies have recently established links with the Far East after developing a brand new website for one of the only Vespa rental companies in Thailand.

Launched earlier this year VESPOi offers the latest Vespa scooters with GPS in Thailand’s northern capital city, Chiang Mai. With well over 200 Buddhist temples and over 2 million people living in the city, VESPOi believe that the best way to enjoy and explore the busy medieval city is on an iconic Vespa scooter.

A number of accessories are also available for hire with the Vespa scooters, including GoPro cameras with SD cards, Nancy Chandler map packs, and extra helmets for pillion-passengers.

Simon from VESPOi said, “After launching Nam’s Guesthouse earlier this year we wanted to offer something different to visitors to Chiang Mai, so we decided to offer GPS Vespas – something that hasn’t really been done in Thailand before.

“These allow our guests and customers to create their own itinerary, discover whichever part of the city they want at their own pace and never get lost in the complexity of Chiang Mai’s myriad of Sois and bazaars.”

With the summer season fast approaching, VESPOi approached ERUP Creative and The Web Orchard to develop the new website in preparation for visitors to the city. The new website is fully responsive to mobile and tablets, as well as desktop computers, which means users will be able to use the website and book rentals in advance during their travels around Chiang Mai and the rest of Thailand.

Ron Gale, Creative Director at ERUP, said, “When VESPOi first approached us to design their new website I was excited by the challenge of creating new branding and a mobile friendly website for such an exotic location. I think that we’ve been able to achieve the perfect website to suit their new, contemporary brand.”

Peter White, Director at The Web Orchard who worked on the website, said, “We love working with a diverse range of customers – whether they’re from Shrewsbury or from further afield! Our expertise in Drupal gives the perfect combination between usability and ease of website management.”

Simon summed up the final site “Thanks to ERUP and Web Orchard the VESPOi e-commerce site came in on time and on a tight budget.

“Developing an idea into a new e-commerce website or transferring an existing business into an online model takes skill, vision and technical ability. You also need a team that takes time to get under the skin of your idea or business and also your customers. This is what they did from the get go. Once they understood our “pitch”…their ideas just kept flowing.

“The result is a visually appealing e-commerce site that enables our target audience in the UK and Europe to book a holiday rental through our Thai based business using a credit card.

“Together ERUP & Web Orchard worked to deliver a new business for us. We just sit back and watch the bookings come through like magic. I recommend these guys very highly, it was fun as well.”

Shrewsbury Web Firm Provides Further International Expertise

The Web Orchard, one of the region’s leading website developers who are based in Shrewsbury, have recently been delivering support to their growing number of international clients. 

A project funded by the World Bank targeting Women in Iraq, is amongst the latest organisations to benefit from The Web Orchards managed hosting, aiming to solve any technical issues and user support requests. 

Speaking in regards to the Nina-Iraq website, Pete White says “Nina-Iraq represents the heart of enterprise and the spirit of Iraq. It is great for us to be able to share our technical abilities and expand our services, into other countries from our operating base in the heart of Shrewsbury.”

Website hosting and ongoing technical support are just two areas where The Web Orchard excel in supporting numerous renowned companies.

For more information on The Web Orchard and their web services, visit www.theweborchard.com, to see the Nina-Iraq website, take a look at www.nina-iraq.com 

County Firm’s Website Appears on TV’s Dragons Den

A Shrewsbury based web-development and IT company is celebrating this week – along with their client, who successfully received funding on Dragons Den.

It’s been a winning combination and partnership for The Raw Chocolate Company who enlisted the help and assistance of The Web Orchard when it came to designing and building their web presence.

The new website received over 60,000 hits within the first 30 minutes after the pitch by The Raw Chocolate Company on this week’s episode – and the site stayed online and live during this surge, thanks to the planning and implementation of The Web Orchard team.

The Web Orchard built a Drupal 7 website allowing The Raw Chocolate Company to fully promote their product range, fully manage products and content ‘behind the scenes’.

Kris McGowan Customer Insight Manager said “It was great working with Pete and his team. We were really up against it and they put all their resources into getting the website ready and functional on time. The Dragons Den team said we would not be able to keep the website running due to shear volume of hits, but the WebOrchard team did it brilliantly. We couldn’t be happier.”

The Raw Chocolate Company received £72,000 in funding from entrepreneur Deborah Meadon.

Pete White of The Web Orchard said “This has been a fantastic week all round. It’s been great for our client who have received the financial backing of Deborah Meadon and TV exposure – but also superb for The Web Orchard, demonstrating our professional ability to create truly winning website designs with top quality technical assistance and planning.”

For more information on The Raw Chocolate Company and to visit their new website: www.therawchocolatecompany.com For The Web Orchard and an overview of their portfolio and services: www.theweborchard.com

New Website for Leading County IT Service Provider

A Shrewsbury based IT company is celebrating the launch of their new website this week. The stylish, sleek and modern new look for Information Solutions is now live and proving an immediate success.

With over a decade of providing high quality IT services and support across the region, it was time to revamp the existing site. The exciting new online presence, offers visitors with a detailed yet easy to navigate overview of the support and services which Information Solutions provides.

Businesses can discover what the many benefits of out-sourcing IT are; and browse information on cloud storage, security, hardware, antivirus, servers and much more, also including the popular cloud offering, Microsoft Office 365.

Speaking about the unveiling of the new website, Pete White says “We are really pleased to promote the new website for Information Solutions. The stylish site now further establishes us as one of the companies at the forefront of improving Shropshire’s business IT infrastructure. I do encourage business owners to take a look and see how we can help in such a variety of ways.”

For more information on the IT support and services available, call 01743 343411. To visit the new website, log on to www.info-sol.co.uk.

April Fools on Love Shrewsbury

Each year our April Fools story is one of the most read posts on the Love Shrewsbury site, this year was no different with traffic spiking by 2,700%. It was our third April Fools story so how did it stack up to the previous years?

Year Post Traffic Facebook Likes Tweets
2015 Loch Ness Monster of Shrewsbury Spotted in River Severn

8,900 1800 48
2014 Brad Pitt to Star in Charles Darwin Film set in Shrewsbury

7,500 1900 25
2013 Shrewsbury to get Airport 1,300 170 34

 
The biggest trend is the link between the story going viral on Facebook and increased traffic, this was helped largely in 2014 and 2015 by our investment in growing the reach of our Facebook page. This gave us a good size platform to initially share the post to enough people to help it go viral. We’ve always struggled to get posts to go viral on Twitter even with a large following, I’m not sure if this is due to the nature of the content or that our core audience is more active on Facebook.

The way we approached April Fools had changed since last year, the bar had been raised considerably since the success in 2014 and we knew if we were going to increase/match traffic again we would have to write an appealing and entertaining post. We discussed a lot of ideas in the office before settling on the chosen topic, many were dismissed for being not funny enough or simply too believable.

Drupal Views with Openlayers 3.0-beta1

The new beta of the Openlayers module brings some much needed updates to the project though the way it works with views is a little different from the previous version. After spending half a day working it out here are my step by step notes for creating a map based on latitude/longitude stored against a node using the location module. Feel free to re-use, copy, and modify the below:

Modules

1. Enable the following modules:

  • Openlayers, Openlayers Block, Openlayers Block Switcher, OpenLayers Contextual Links, OpenLayers Examples, OpenLayers Geofield, OpenLayers Services, OpenLayers UI, OpenLayers Views
  • Location, Gmap, Location Entity, Node Locations
  • GeoJson
    (as well as any other required modules such as Views & CTools)

Install the Openlayers library (I’m using version 3.2.1)

Content Types

2. Setup a content type with location fields, the important part here is latitude & longitude. (How you get the lat/long is up to you, I’m using a map but you could Geocode this if needed.)

Views

3. Create a new view of content and add a display of a Feed. Set the format to GeoJSON Feed and add in your fields for title, latitiude, longitude & description. Under Format settings, map the Fields to the Data Sources.

Make sure the display style for latitude and longitude is set to ‘Decimal Degrees’.

Untitled-4

(In previous versions of OpenLayers you would create an OpenLayers Data layer – I’m not sure if this method still works however this is where my example differs from other tutorials.)

Openlayers

4. Go to Structure > Openlayers > Layers

Add a new layer, give it a suitable title and click continue. Set the layer type to be Vector and choose the source to be the views feed that you just created.

Untitled-5

Continue with the defaults until you have a completed layer.

Maps

5. Go to the maps tab and add a new map. Give it a suitable name and click continue.

On the map settings page you can set the maps default position, zoom & expose it as a block. (If the map doesn’t appear you most likely haven’t installed the Openlayers library in the sites/all/libraries folder).

On Layers and Sources you need to select your data layer plus a mapping layer, in this case I’m using Google Maps: The data layer is the one we created above.

Untitled-6

The next tab allows you to add controls such as Zoom and Full Screen.

Interactions allows dragging, mouse wheel zoom etc.

Components allows additional options such as popups – for instance someone can click on a popup to see the title and description (that we added in the view).

Finally the Preview tab will show you the map with the markers – if it doesn’t, check all of the settings on the previous tabs as well as the preview of the GeoJSON in the View. If you get stuck at any point check some of the examples in both Openlayers & Views and compare the settings/outputs against what you have.

Components

6. To get the popup to work you will need to go back to Structure > Openlayers and click on Components. Add the component as a popup, select the layer as the view you created.

Untitled-7

You can then edit the components section of your Map and select this Popup.

Untitled-8

Blocks

7. Finally go to blocks and move the map block onto the region that you want it to show.

If the map doesn’t show as it didn’t for me set a height to the content class within the block e.g.

#block-openlayers-block-1f73a9b8-mapblock .content{
 height:500px;
} 

This should be everything you need to get Location + Views + Openlayers working in Drupal 7x.

Switchweb Offers a Winning Choice

Making the decision of which web-hosting company to use, can often be a challenging problem to address for many individuals and business owners. Shropshire based Switchweb exists to provide a low-cost solution to such an issue.

Switchweb is the perfect choice for any WordPress or Drupal website – presenting an affordable web-hosting option that has a proven track record, having started originally in 2003.

Every Switchweb account comes accompanied by unlimited email accounts and forwarders, again – the perfect solution to the needs of any business, charity or individual requiring hosting for a personal website. Switchweb are renowned by existing customers, for their reliability and highly professional service.

Pete White of Switchweb, says “Switchweb offers hosting that is designed for many popular web apps, including both WordPress and Drupal amongst others. We really do aim to offer a cost-effective solution to the web-hosting requirements of UK businesses and organisations.”

For more information on the hosting packages that are available right now, visit www.switchweb.co.uk

Love Shrewsbury Online Submission

Over the past year we’ve been repositioning our Love Shrewsbury website to become a content platform rather than just a classic blog. We’ve had a lot of success in this area forming partnerships with other local blogs and news site.

Our platform is powering mobile phone apps such as InfoBeetle providing offers & events data to their iPhone/Android applications and the Original Shrewsbury website.

This month we’ve taken the next step forward by opening up our article submission process to anyone. The result is that users can submit content directly into our article queue through their computers.

Content is moderated then set live just like any other article, it can then by distributed through our social media channels and content networks.

There are two main reasons behind the move:

  1. We want to encourage more individuals and organisations to contribute to the site by making the process as easy as possible.
  2. We are trying to keep up with the ways that we are sent content. Previously it would be common to be sent a Word document attached in an email. Sometimes this would include a picture, sometimes it wouldn’t, (Love Shrewsbury requires an image for all article). Content is then copy & pasted, images manually resized and the article is scheduled to go live. This worked well in some scenarios however as we are being sent more media heavy releases and content optimised for search engine ranking it was clear that a Word document wasn’t cutting it anymore. People needed the tools to be able to contribute online as they would on their own blog. Given we have a very good online work flow for this it made sense to open up the process.

Contributing to Love Shrewsbury is available now, to submit an article use this form.

WordCamp Bham

This weekend was WordCamp Birmingham, the event was a resounding success and attended by around 150 WordPress developers and enthusiasts.

I gave a lightening talk based on the blog post I wrote a couple of weeks ago – cutting spam with CloudFlare.

Here are some of the plugins I picked up on from various talks:

Menu Humility – this module fixes any menu items that like to put themselves at the top of the list in the admin menu.

User Switching – lets you quickly switch between users, great for debugging role based issues.

CMS Tree Page View – if you have a lot of pages this lists them in a hierarchical view.

Spots – lets you define areas of content that your end users can edit.

Imsanity – Automatically resizes images in posts so that users don’t load a 10mb image into the body of a page.

Jarvis – like Alfred for OS X but built into the WordPress admin. 

Uploads by Proxy – great little plugin if you have moved a live site to a dev environment but don’t want to copy down the entire content of /wp-content/uploads

Profiler – Performance profiler (was shown in a lightening talk, can’t find link or remember the author).

Newly Relaunched 12stix Website

I’ve relaunched the website www.12stix.com, the site is perfect for tech, training or gaming related sponsored posts and text links.

Some of it’s new features include

  • 180 articles, all unique content
  • 8 years old domain with extensive Google history
  • Modern responsive design
  • Very few external links (many old links have been removed)

As an introductory offer links are available for £50/year.