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Cosmic develops new Powderham Castle website

26th February 2016

Cosmic recently had the fantastic opportunity to work alongside Powderham Castle by developing them a new website.

What is Powderham Castle? "Powderham Castle enjoys a unique, picturesque setting within an ancient deer park beside the Exe estuary, just south of Exeter. Over 600 years of history can be discovered within the walls of one of Devon's oldest family homes. Powderham came to the Courtenay family in the dowry of Edward I’s granddaughter, and her son, Sir Philip Courtenay, began building the Castle in 1391. It has remained the family to this day, and recently became home to the new Earl & Countess of Devon, the 28th generation to move in. The magical setting and convenient location makes Powderham the perfect venue for your special event, be it a wedding or business function. For locals and visitors to Devon it is a 'must see' and with its many attractions - a wonderful family day out!"

Nowadays, a website is a must for any business - having an online presence opens your brand up to an incredible amount of exposure from internet users, so it's important that your company website reflects what you do and looks beautiful.

We spoke to Cosmic's web team to discuss the methods behind their choices during the design and development stages of the Powderham Castle website.

"The idea for the design process was based around taking the new Powderham Castle logo and branding and creating a website that was both modern looking and had a traditional feel to it, giving each element lots of space and using large, high quality photographs to show the house and grounds."

 

Thoughts from the web team at Cosmic

"The aim was to highlight specific areas of the website such as 'Weddings', 'Visit', 'Estate', 'Tickets' and to channel the user to these areas. We also wanted to enable the user to keep up to date with all the news and events going on in the estate through highlighting social media, e-newsletters and a 'What’s on' section on the home page.The website uses a priority+ responsive navigationand vector graphics to keep icons as crisp as possible. Extra aesthetic animations were added in pure CSS to create a more dynamic looking page, some of these animations are also to help user accessibility, for example, with the menu hovering “dots”, these help colour-blind users be able to more easily indentify a hover state on a menu item."

"We adopted the latest CSS writing style for the new website which keeps the maintainability of the theme easier and also establishes a good solid foundation for any future developments. We added JavaScript to the website to enhance the user experince, such as for the responsive menu pattern. This added in a “progressive” manner so that the site still works even if the JavaScript is not loaded."

"The Courtenay family approached Cosmic as they were the newest generation to live and work at Powderham Castle. Their new vision was of something more than a conventional historical house. They set Cosmic the task of conveying over 600 years of history through imbuing the new website with the life, stories and magic already present in the fabric of the estate but needing to be represented online. The website needed to convey the sense of history but also that it is a family home. We used key colours like the Powderham Blue from the walls of the staircase and married these with historical family colours, working in conjunction with their PR agency to ensure the new website carried the newly created branding throughout. A key driver for a launch in the New Year, and an indication of the direction the Castle was looking to, was the announcement of the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend. This exposure needed to be capitalised on and the old site just would not give the impression that was needed. Cosmic developed a phased approach to ensure the main sections would be ready in time with the development of the other sections following later."

"The new Powderham Castle website is designed to be beautifully responsive and this is a key aspect to its SEO. According to Google, over 61% of visitors will return to Google search if a website is not mobile friendly. Following on in the theme of structural enhancements, we included what is known as a 'fat footer'. The fat footer appears at the bottom of every page on the website - this means that Google (and other search engines) will index the contents of the footer on every page of the site. Due to this, well thought out keywords in an 'about us' segment of text can lend a lot of weight to your website's search engine optimisation as the website is effectively doubling up on descriptive content for each page. Adding in structured meta titles, descriptions and alt tags throughout the website is also something we practice on all websites we develop, and all of these things contribute in their own ways to your search engine success."

After the new Powderham Castle website went live, there was the announcement that the BBC Radio 1 Big Weekend was being hosted at Powderham, which inevitably brought a lot of people to the website.

Attraction Assistant Jenny Ellis said that "Cosmic have proved to be very approachable and knowledgeable and have delivered to very tight deadlines."

If you want to find out more about Powderham Castle, or to have a look at the new website Cosmic developed for them, head over to Powderham.co.uk - let us know what you think by tweeting us to @Cosmic_UK!