Armstrong & Oxford

Armstrong & Oxford are Ireland’s leading gown hire providers, supplying academic robes to both students and staff from the smallest to the largest of graduation ceremonies nationwide.

Armstrong & Oxford approached Cambridge Software Engineering (CSE) to discuss potential enhancements to their website, including developing a responsive design and various improvements to the booking forms. CSE have since gone on to provide support services and changes to the payments platform on the site.

We have been using Cambridge Software Engineering since 2014. They are the fourth provider we have used to support and develop our websites, and they are by far the most reliable, innovative and flexible that we have encountered to date. Not only in supporting our websites, but helping us to constantly develop both the customer and the admin functions, reducing both the number and the complexity of tasks that we have to complete, and providing a better experience to our customers. Feedback from our customers has changed from being frequently negative about the user friendliness of our sites, to being either unmentioned, or positive in the majority of cases. - Stephen Holland, Managing Director
  • Landing Page (desktop)

  • Landing Page (iPad)

  • Student form (phone)

Challenges

A number of requirements were identified as being key to the delivery of a successful solution:

  • Traditional web forms-based system – The site took a traditional approach to styling which did not fit will with the proposed responsive design. An initial exercise involved simplifying the UI mark-up, removing complex-controls so that responsive UI themes could be added more easily.
  • Cost – A key focus was how to make the site responsive with the minimum amount of rewriting of the back-end of the site. To this end CSE focussed on separating the front-end functionality where possible to aid in the styling of front-end UI elements.
  • Test environment – In order to enable feedback and provoke design suggestions a customer preview site was needed. CSE hosted a new environment that enabled the staff of Armstrong & Oxford to review changes to the site and suggest further modifications.
    Process

The following phases were undertaken to implement the requirements:

  1. Requirements gathering and Q&A session – Armstrong & Oxford were invited to highlight areas they disliked in the previous site and what should be included or enhanced in the new system.
  2. Development of themes and resources – CSE worked closely with the marketing department at Armstrong & Oxford to develop a design theme and ensure suitable images and other resources were utilised within the site.
  3. Implementation and iterative release cycle – CSE provided regular releases of the new site to the test environment allowing the customer to review progress and provide feedback. The test environment also served as a valuable platform for cross-device testing.
  4. User Acceptance Testing and Go-Live – The final product was tested by the customer prior to acceptance and release.

Impact

Armstrong & Oxford now have a clean, modern responsive site providing the following tangible benefits:

  • The site can now be reached by more customers across a wider variety of devices.
  • Development of the site provided an opportunity to improve the user experience of existing forms (i.e. adding AJAX to enhance user experience and additional validation where appropriate).

Follow-Up and Aftercare

Since completing the site enhancement work, CSE have since gone on to provide full-time support for the site and a number of additional changes/enhancements including:

  • Change to payments provider – The site has now been integrated with a new payments provider.
  • Reporting enhancements – Additional back-end reports have been provided together with enhancements to those that were already existing.

Technology

  • Microsoft ASP.Net Web Forms - ASP.NET Web Forms is a technology for building dynamic websites that uses an event-driven model.
  • jQuery - jQuery is a fast, small, and feature-rich JavaScript library.
  • Bootstrap - The most popular HTML, CSS, and JS framework for developing responsive, mobile first projects on the web.
  • Microsoft ADO .NET - ADO.NET is a set of classes that expose data access services for .NET Framework programmers. ADO.NET provides a rich set of components for creating distributed, data-sharing applications.
  • SSRS - A comprehensive, highly scalable solution for the creation of operational reports for pixel-perfect printing and browser-based viewing as well as ad-hoc data exploration and visualization.
  • SQL Server Database - Enterprise scalable relational data warehouse and integration services with easy to use, robust, management and development tools.
  • Visual Studio Online – Secure centralised source control and application lifecycle management tool.

Further Information

For more information about this case study, or our services please contact Dr Nick Rogers on 01223 968100. Testimonials and references arranged on request.