W. F. Howes is one of the leading producers of audiobooks. As they continued to grow, they decided they needed a website that would cater to the needs of their customers.
The W. F. Howes website was created alongside the Recorded Books project as its UK sister company. This was a very ambitious project to work on as Recorded Books, W. F. Howes and the Australian sister company, Wavesound, all began at the same time and ended within weeks of each other. With this in mind, we created a site for each company that would allow them to provide useful content and services for their customers.
W. F. Howes is one of the biggest names in the industry, therefore it was essential that we created a site for the company that reflected its reputation. It was also essential to design a website that was user-friendly in a competitive market. There was a clear need for the website to be updated in order to provide a great user experience, covering all aspects of the site, from navigation to search functions.
The project began with an extensive discovery phase with many in-person and online workshops, as well as in-depth analysis of the old website to see how it could be improved. We chose Kentico as the platform for the project due to its e-commerce functionality, as well as the customisable nature of the CMS. This means it's easy for content managers at W. F. Howes to keep their product offering up-to-date. Due to these features, the new website incorporates Sage Pay and 3D Secure, allowing e-commerce functionality and ease of use for customers. In addition, the new site is responsive, meaning that it works perfectly across mobile, tablet and desktop.
The core aim of this project was improving user experience. As many of the visitors to the site were returning visitors, we implemented functionality for users to login through their registered library. Additionally, users have different authority over the account based on their role – librarians and library staff are able to make changes to the account, whereas patrons and borrowers are not.
Site navigation is now much easier for the user, as they are able to browse by genre or digital/physical department. Also, the experience is now far more tailored toward the user, as book titles are recommended based upon what the user has already shown an interest in on the site, meaning that site visitors are now able to have a more personalised experience.
Improvement in accuracy of the site search function was necessary to ensure that users can find what they are looking for as quickly as possible. This part of the project included the implementation of relevancy within search results, suggestive search and advanced search. The advanced search option allows users to narrow down their search quickly and effectively, if they know exactly what they are looking for. Users that are logged in have the option to save advanced searches and re-run them at any time.
The checkout process for the user is now also much easier and user-friendly. There is a ‘budgeting’ option for users, meaning that they are able to set a limit to their cart and be notified if the number of items added exceeds the amount that they are intending to spend. There is also the exciting option to share carts within libraries, meaning other users can view what is being bought if the user grants them access. There is also the ability to share carts for approval, which is an efficient aspect of the site’s functionality for B2B users.
Since their new website went live it is clear that the user experience has improved dramatically demonstrated by:
- A 58% increase in sessions
- A 70% increase in page views
- A 28% increase in average session duration
This has translated to a massive 433% increase in sales demonstrating that W. F. Howes are now able to cater to the needs of their customers with a great website. W. F. Howes have also received great user feedback.
The project has allowed W. F. Howes to effectively make use of digital to transform their business and provide a great online experience for their customers.
What do W. F. Howes say?
Paul BradleyEDI and IT Project Manager
“Distinction have worked professionally and with great commitment with our Project Team on a complex and challenging project to deliver two contemporary B2B websites for our W. F. Howes and Wavesound organisations. The websites have been welcomed by our customers delivering smart functionality to enable them to view and order our entire catalogue of available physical and digital products more proficiently than before. In addition, it has benefitted the organisations and our internal resources with a number of time saving efficiencies regarding web order processing and administration. After the first 2 weeks since the new website launch, the value of sales on both sites have exceeded the highest month in the previous 12 months.”