A New Online Home
I was recently asked to revamp the website of a luxury retail space and venue hire business, The Gables, based in the heart of Joburg's busy financial district. This beautiful Cape Dutch style restored farm house was the family home of the Gordons for many years before they moved down to the Eastern Cape. In 2016 they decided to open up this property as an exclusive venue hire/coffee shop/business lounge and more.
Jess, the one at the helm of the business, had initially put the site together for The Gables, but with development of the business, and the focus more strongly moving to venue hire, she was looking to have their website match the elegance and class of the property itself and asked me to make something happen!
My initial research focused on multi-purpose South African venues that offer a range of services and amenities under one umbrella. I looked at the websites of places such as:
- working farms that are open to the public and also offer cafes/restaurants
- estates that host events
- wine farms with art galleries and shops etc.
The question was, "How do you host a stack of information about different aspects of a business as clearly and thoroughly as possible without cluttering up the space, and keeping it clean and easy to navigate?" Jess tasked me with bringing a more contemporary, dynamic feel to the site, while maintaining the classic appeal the property itself has to offer.
Here are a few changes I made in the process of revamping the site:
- switched themes from a narrow centred theme to a more expansive theme
- introduced site-wide rotating banners (with beautiful photography of the venue by Charles Johnstone, Victor Sguassero & Ryan Thomas there was a lot to work with)
- added a more dynamic home page showcasing the three main components of the business: venue hire, luxury retail, and hosted events.
- added a dedicated venue hire page with photo galleries and explanatory blurbs about each venue option
- cleaned up the retail page, simplifying the content and paring it right back (they'll be launching an online shop, so there was no need to overdo it here)
- pruned the 'about' page, leaving only the core information, allowing more focus on the venue and offering itself than on the team/history
- restructured the contact page making key info more visible and accessible at a glance.
Jess was really pleased with the end result. And so was I, come to think of it.
If you want to have a look at some other Squarespace websites I've been making, here they are...