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We developed ideas for new functionality for the award-winning Berry Bros. & Rudd (BBR) web site for Limitless, the site's developers.
Starting with one of BBR's own ideas, we researched online and offline examples of the service. We then collated our ideas for the general approach, information architecture and functionality in a ten-page report.
We did further research on online wedding registry services and wrote a document describing how such a service could work on the BBR site in terms of features, functionality and content. This resulted in the launch of the Berry Bros. & Rudd Wedding List Service.
Limitless have worked with BBR since 1995; we helped to develop the original generated web site and ran a requirements meeting in 1998 when they wanted to reorganise the web site. www.bbr.com has won the title of Best Web Site two years running at the International Wine Challenge.
Turnover from the profitable web site has increased from £0.5 million to £3 million in three years. Whilst the cost of running the web site has also increased, the rate has been relatively slower, allowing a greater return on investment.
In 1998, three years after Limitless first put the Berry Bros. & Rudd broking list online, Berry's finally gave way to customer demand and decided to put their entire wine list online.
This meant a completely redesigned, restructured and redeveloped web site by the previous combination of Limitless and Denison Design.
We ran a planning meeting at Berry Bros. & Rudd (BB&R) to discuss their short- and long-term goals for the site. The meeting included the Web Site Manager from the Marketing department, a representative from Information Systems and a Retail Manager. Some of the issues covered are summarised next.
The planning group identified the types of buyers who would visit the shop, varying in how likely their visit will result in a purchase. The types range from regular visitors who know exactly what they want, to people who are just browsing. The visitor types apply to most web sites and it's always necessary to discuss them at the requirements phase to that one can design in specific content and functionality to suit each type.
They discussed the use of a floor-plan metaphor for the web site design and navigation as well as the idea of a Shop Manager for the online shop. BB&R already had a number of shops - such as in Piccadilly and at Heathrow - each with a manager. They wanted their online shop to have all the presence and importance of a physical shop by assigning it a shop manager. A shop manager can then welcome people to the online shop, provide information and answer queries. Since 1998, a shop manager for the online BB&R shop has been a constant feature.
The group covered the minimum content and functionality for the home page, simple and advanced searching, and result lists. We encouraged the use of icons - for instance, to denote suitability for laying down a bottle - to help make sense of the tabular results.
The site was to be completely redesigned and so they discussed the qualities that should be conveyed through the visual design of the site, as well as specific ideas for imagery.
Additional features and content was discussed, which would be considered at a later stage.
Within a week of the meeting, we wrote up the discussions, designs and decisions into a requirements document. This involved completing and documenting the site structure for the short- and long-term stages of redevelopment, and was presented as a structured table of page information and a 2D diagram.
We worked with Denison Design to create the official web site for the Cutty Sark Tall Ships' Races, a Berry Bros & Rudd company.
We selected what copy to use on the site, wrote the home page text, researched links for the links page, scanned pictures and animated the route map. We dispersed the pictures around the site when marking up the pages.
The site made use of LML, Limitless's extended mark-up language; LML allows a single marked-up page to be created but which appears in multiple forms when requested by the visitor's browser, depending on whether it recognises tables or animated GIFs (both then recent additions to the HTML specification).
Using LML this way kept costs down for the client - it eliminated the need for multiple versions of pages - whilst maximising the number of people who could use the site as intended.
Denison Design based the design on Cutty Sark's brand manuals and created a site with a nautical feel.
The home page buttons were in the form of set of sails, and an animated graphic was created for each section in the style of a porthole.
We worked with Denison Design to design and build the official web site for Cutty Sark Scots Whisky, owned by Berry Bros. & Rudd.
The site was designed and built in two months from photos and promotional material provided by Berry Bros. & Rudd. We selected the copy for use on the web site, scanned pictures and made both web-ready.
As with the Cutty Sark Tall Ships' Races site, and for the same reasons, the site was created in LML to present different HTML on page request according the visitor's browser.
Denison Design came up with a design route which conveyed a different feel for each of the brands of whisky.
The site adopted a general style but brand pages differed in small ways, such as the horizontal strip at the top of pages which matched the brand identity.
In 1995, Berry Bros. & Rudd, then a 300-yr old wine merchant with a Royal Warrant, saw what Limitless had done for Sainsbury's with Wine Direct and asked Limitless to build them a more elaborate online wine shop to help them serve customers in the far east.
They believed that they could offer a unique service by selling fine and rare wines from their broking service. One of their objectives was to target the Japanese market, where it was cheaper to buy fine wine from the UK and have it delivered, than to buy it locally.
Berry's supplied wine list data which was then used to generate pages for the site. There were six versions of each page: a set with and without HTML tables (which was a new feature in 1995), and a set showing prices in one of three currencies: sterling, dollars and yen. The site also adjusted the displayed totals in the shopping basket to match the currently-selected currency.
We worked with the design company, Denison Design, for the first time on this project. Tessa Denison designed a dramatic black and gold home page and then colour- and icon-coded the three main page types using deep colours - blue for the chateau pages, green for the wine lists and red for the remaining pages.
We made all their graphics web-ready and scanned all the wine labels. We marked up the main content which, with templates, was used to generate complete web pages.
We helped with the site software, including generating the site's pages from the wine data, and managing the shopping basket, both of which were functions that had to be written from scratch in 1995, since no useful database-driven web development systems existed.
Berry's wanted to convey tradition and quality through the design and to maintain their personal service by completing orders by telephone. The site was used to illustrate good design in the 1996 book Official HTML Publishing for Netscape by Stuart Harris and Gayle Kidder.
Magellan awarded it 4 stars in 1996, who said that the Berry Bros. & Rudd web site:
"excelled in each of [their] criteria for evaluating web sites, namely Depth of Content, Ease of Exploration and Net Appeal This is the highest rating an Internet site can achieve in Magellan, McKinley's comprehensive Internet directory of nearly 2 million sites and 40,000 reviews."
The Berry Bros & Rudd web site continues to be expanded by Limitless and was redesigned in 2000.
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