Introducing the new Cult Pens website

It's been a busy time for us recently. We launched a completely new version of our site just a couple of weeks ago. If you haven't seen it yet, you should probably have a look around now. It's ok. We'll wait here for you.

So, what did you think? Hope you liked it. We think it's faster, prettier, more functional, and much easier to use on mobile devices.  People say 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it', but we think the old site was starting to feel a bit broken. It was difficult to use on phones and tablets, but didn't take advantage of bigger screens very well either. The text was a bit small, making it difficult for some people to read. A lot of people described it as being very 'busy'. We'd added the 'PenFinder' feature to the site, which gave it some clever filtering options, but that couldn't be used in the main parts of the site. Without the site having user accounts, there was no way of us adding other features people wanted, like wish lists. Changing even relatively small parts of the design was difficult with the back-end system we were using.

The back-end was the other thing that was feeling rather broken. Our old system had lasted us well; from when the site was starting out, run from the back room of a small stationery shop; right through to now, with a company of around 20 people sending lots and lots of pens out every day. But it wasn't easy. The system didn't handle stock control, so we spent far too much time running around a building full of pens, trying to count all the pens. There were a lot. We had almost as many spreadsheets as pens, just to try to keep track of it all and to keep ordering what we needed so we didn't run out. Imagine trying to keep track of 12,000 different products with just a heap of spreadsheets.

Well, now we have a new system, and a new web site in front of it. We know how many pens we have, and the new site has brought us some real benefits:

  • The design is cleaner, with more readable text and a more modern feel.
  • It uses responsive design to lay things out in a way that's appropriate to the screen you're using. You get the same page if you're browsing on your phone as you would on your computer, but it knows the drop-down menu doesn't work well with fingers, so it's replaced with a menu button that does. The same information and photos are all there, so you don't get stuck with a limited version of the site just because you're browsing on your phone or tablet.
  • You still don't have to create an account if you don't want to - just ignore the password when you check out. If you do set up an account, though, you can check your order status later, and re-order the same things again. Wish lists aren't there yet, but they're on our wish list!
  • Filters are available in any view where products are shown, and can do almost anything PenFinder could do - and a lot more too.

Above all else, though, this change puts us in a much better position for the future. We can be more efficient, which is good for all of us. We can add new products more easily, and manage our stock better so we don't run out of what you wanted, just when you wanted it. It lets us show photos of products in all the colours available, lets us add more photos of things, and it makes it easier for us to add pages with more information, helping you to find what you need.

We still have a lot to do. We need to add more descriptions, and longer descriptions, and add more photos (and take more photos), and add some extra features people have been asking for, and write some new articles, and...

It's been a long job, and now we've launched the site it feels less like we've reached the end, and more like we've reached a new beginning.

5 June 2014

Comments

  • Andrew S (Cultpens Team) 11 June 2014
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    Hi Graham, The site search on mobile devices is something we're working on. We'll hopefully have this enabled at some point in the not too distant future. Thanks! Cult Pens

  • Graham R 10 June 2014
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    Hi, I like the new site design but I can't seem to find a search when using my tablet... is there and I've missed it? It is really frustrating! Graham

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