One More Cloud were looking to make significant improvements to their product website but they had a number of challenges to overcome.
Bonsai is a managed elasticsearch platform which looks after your search tools and makes sure they're always running and performing the best for you. Their team is built up of mostly backend developers and marketers and they have a very relaxed company culture, which gives me the flexibility to work in a way which will be most beneficial to them.
Step 1: Completing their new marketing website
When I began working with Bonsai, they were in a tough situation. They were working on a new marketing website which they desperately needed to make their brand feel fresh, but the site had only been half completed and they needed somebody who could pick up the project and finish it off.
The website had been built using Jekyll, a headless platform that I'd not worked with before but was very familiar to a combination of other tools I'd used previously. With my experience using many different development platforms across my career including headless websites it was no problem for me to take over and help them finish creating their new marketing site.
Step 2: Creating a better experience for the team
The next step was to make improvements to the site. Even though the marketing site had just been recreated, the new build only solved problems for the websites users but was still causing a ton of issues for the team. That wasn't good enough.
The problem was the Jekyll/Parcel combination which resulted in 2 build processes and two different public folders, a very awkward experience for the team. This combination also caused other weird issues like not being able to check the 404 page.
The next issue was poor maintainability. The site hadn't been created in an optimal way making changes time consuming and expensive. Most of the site needed to be adjusted so that it was easy to edit, and more beneficial for a team short on time.
Together, we decided to convert the site to NextJS while using the current design. React was a favourite library of the team, and NextJS provides a ton of great benefits like flexibility, static pages and a load of optimisations built in.
Rebuilding the site took a few weeks, but the benefits gained were tremendous, returning control of changes to the team and making it much easier for them to understand how their own website works. There were also some performance gains inherited from using improved tools which was a nice side effect.
I also built in Documentation and basic visual tests in the form of Storybook, which makes it much easier for the team to understand how the website fits together which encourages best practice. It also reduces bottlenecks as design and development can refer back to the documentation to remind themselves how everything works, rather than a single developer.
Bonsai are always looking to improve their software and their website is no exception, and as a result we've already discussed changes which would further optimise their website improving its reliability and making it easier to work with.
- We want to create more landing pages to help focus on specific sectors, help with SEO and improve conversions, without creating too much additional work. Ideally these landing pages would be able to be created without any development oversight.
- To improve their brand consistency between their company and their products, and to help reduce the complexity (and therefore time to release), we want to standardise the components across all their websites by creating a component library that is specific to their needs. Changes made in the component library would then update all 3 of their websites automatically.
- To help improve the reliability of their website we want to add more tests to ensure that we never miss issues when things either look wrong or work incorrectly. This is especially important for them as a team of developers, who can't afford to have mistakes in any of their software, including their website.