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New Work: North Western Models E-Commerce Website

6th May 2016

The business is ran by Christopher Gore and Kevin Colley (whom I have previously worked together with on the website for his classic car restoration business KGC Engineering).

Following the growing popularity of their eBay shop, I met with Chris and Kevin about designing and building their own website to sell their impressive collection of products. These included trains, buildings and trees as well as trackside details such as people, barrels and even fields of tiny cabbages! My personal favourite was the miniature pub benches with umbrellas!

Impressed by their passion and enthusiasm for the products they were selling along with their positive vision for the future I set to work.

Planning

The biggest challenge on this project was choosing how to categorise all the products. Other than a lone impatient attempt at painting a Warhammer figure as a teenager my knowledge of modelling is very limited so with Chris and Kevin’s help I was given a crash course in modelling.

First of all, we looked together at other model train shop websites that Kevin and Chris used themselves. Whilst I felt a lot of them looked very dated, they generally followed a common structure which hobbyists could quickly and easily use to find specific products.

I learnt that models trains can be typically categorised in 2 ways to help guide collectors when buying new models:

  • Firstly, they come in various sizes such the larger 00 gauge models and the tiny N gauge variety. This is typically the first choice a collector makes when looking for products that fit with their setup. From there they can pick from sub categories of buildings, scenic details and so on).
  • Secondly, they can be grouped by era so anyone constructing a 1950’s British Railways can easily find the appropriate models to add to their theme.

Alternatively, you could bypass the filters altogether with a keyword search if you have a specific product in mind.

By applying this functionality to a modern design I believed we were onto a winner!

North Western Models wireframe and design sample

Early concept layouts and the applied branding

Designs

When it came to designs, I created a colour scheme based on the neutral greys from their existing logo and print branding and introduced a positive green colour for the call to actions such as links and buttons as well as a secondary red colour to compliment it.

The headings use a serif font called Rokkit, as a reference to the Stepenson’s Rocket steam train.

Whilst keeping to a contemporary design I also included a few subtle references to classic British Railways signs such as the arrow heads and tails used for bullet points and pointers, which I hope the customers will appreciate!

Development

North Western Models website on a phone

I spent a lot of time ensuring the website worked well on phones

The website is powered by WooCommerce, the leading e-commerce engine for the WordPress content management system. This allows Chris and Kevin to easily manage the products themselves and are automatically notified when someone makes a purchase or stock levels are low. Customers can also create their own account to keep track of orders and save their delivery address to save time on future purchases. Payents are securely processed though Paypal.

WooCommerce provides very powerful yet cost effective shop functionality which I was able integrate with my own bespoke mobile responsive design.

Overall, this has been a very interesting and fun project to work on and I am very excited to see the business develop over the coming months.

You can visit the North Western Models website at NorthWesternModels.co.uk and well as checking them out on Facebook and Twitter.

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