How We Designed, Developed, and Launched 13 Websites at Once.
A robust response to retail reform.
The pandemic affected businesses across almost every sector. Especially those in retail. As in-person shopping restrictions were enforced, lifted, enforced once again, brick-and-mortar retailers and commercial businesses needed to act fast or succumb to online competitors.
Given the catalytic period of uncertainty, Oxford Properties needed a global approach to its multiple shopping centre websites to account for both customer and administrator needs.
This project yielded 13 websites for Oxford’s shopping and food centres – all built on WordPress, hosted by Pantheon, and operating with a variety of APIs and third-party integrations, including Mappedin, Adeptmind, and Mallcomm.
Oxford envisioned a website experience design akin to that of a magazine or catalogue. This demanded an extensive library of modules to achieve a dynamic appearance while allowing for ample flexibility and ease of use.
Project challenges and conquests.
Designing, developing, and launching 13 websites in six months was no easy task. Here’s a look at how we mitigated and prevailed in the face of the many challenges of this project.
To ensure excellence across all centres and as each mall populated hundreds of pages, thorough and ongoing training was scheduled, with individual videos highlighting unique features.
Collaboration with multiple vendors and third parties required regular touchpoints, both pre-scheduled and ongoing. Communication via Slack was also a game changer!
A project of this magnitude required in-depth functional requirements, detailed user testing strategies, and rigorous pass-or-fail methodologies to ensure success amidst potential scope changes.
The revamped websites for shopping centers like Yorkdale, SquareOne, and Upper Canada offer a host of useful features, including store and mall hours, parking capacity information, store promotions and discounts, job opportunities, and live chat support.
Although we built the websites using WordPress, we had to familiarize ourselves with new systems to meet the project’s goals. One of these was Pantheon, a cloud-based hosting platform that stood out from other tools we’ve used. Its unique feature, Multidev, provided built-in test and development environments that helped us catch bugs early on. Pantheon gave us access to a range of intuitive hosting tools, including New Relic, which tracks website performance, making troubleshooting easier for optimizing speeds and minimizing timeout errors caused by APIs.
We also implemented a variety of automated features to streamline a once-manual process – making it more efficient and effective. As the source of truth, our developers added automated career opportunities and store offer functionalities to an external platform, allowing information to be submitted to any of the Oxford websites at any given time. This functionality not only pulls results into the websites but also automatically expires job postings and offers on their deadline dates. Currently, as we continue to evolve the sites’ offerings, we’re working with the team at AdeptMind to implement the ability to shop all of the centres’ stores online via one collective shopping cart.
By collaborating with Oxford Properties’ stakeholders to implement innovative features and automated processes, our team delivered a successful project of which we take great pride. Oxford now offers its customers a dynamic and engaging online experience while simultaneously remaining competitive within the evolving retail landscape.