… we have made some changes to the website already, and are planning some more! Grab a coffee, make yourself comfortable, as we take you for a little journey behind the scenes, and share with you some new features of the website, and a few upcoming projects too!
For the past few weeks (months?), the Baa! website has been evolving, to provide you with the best service possible. You might have noticed some changes, and hopefully, things are running smoothly most of the time.
A couple weeks ago, we also reached out to you via social media, asking for feedback on any issue you might have with the website, the online store or the blog. We are very grateful for your time. We have made a list of the issues and requests, and have been addressing as many as possible.
We have been working behind the scenes to improve the accessibility of the online store, to fix some bugs, and generally improve the website. It is not perfect yet, and there are still many things in the pipeline, but we would like to take a moment to share this journey with you, to explain what we have done, what we are currently working on, and what we’re planning to do.
This is the first part of a series of post about our projects for Baa! online...
Breaking News (before resuming with the rest of the blog post)
A bit of exciting news from Mrs Baa! Eilidh of Colliston Yarns has been in touch this afternoon to let us know she finally received her dyes and is working hard on the next batch of The Stonehaven Collection. So, for those of you who missed out last time and....
We should have Eilidh's wonderful yarn back in stock within the next couple of weeks!
Ready to have a peek behind the curtains?
All shades in one place!
Baa! website is constructed through a clever platform which enables us to build the pages with ready-made elements, without requiring us to write all the code. It is a little akin to building a kitchen with one of these DIY kitchen planner apps: it is a wonderful tool, but has some limitations if you want some made-to-measure items, or if your use of the elements doesn’t match the intentions of the app.
We won’t bore you with too many technical details, but one of the big hurdles is that there is a cap to the number of “options” we can have for a single product. This means that we could only list up to 15 shades for each yarn on the same page. As you know, some of our beloved yarn comes in dozens of shades, and the workaround until now was to group them into colour families and have separate pages for them. However, it made picking colours a bit of a nightmare.
We came up with another workaround: tricking the system with a made-up page where each shade is considered as a different product, and redirecting the click to this new fancy page where we can show you all the shades in all their glory.
The drawback is that, on slow connections, you may see the redirection happen: it may look as if the page is jumping (or flicking) one time upon loading. Please know that we are looking for an alternative solution, hoping that the system at some point allows us to make these new pages as our “standard” pages instead.
On the plus side, these new pages look amazing, and have caused me already 2 purchases, as I couldn’t resist seeing all the shades together after organizing them. It has also pumped my knitting mojo up, and I am excited to start new projects pairing colours! Have a look for yourself!
For the yarn with the most shades, we have also added filters by colour family, so you can look at your favourite range of colours without loading them all, for instance. Or, if you wanted to pair shades from two colour families, you could select them and look at all the shades in these two families in a new way.
We hope you like them, and look forward to hearing what you think.
Thanks to the people who reached out to us when we asked for feedback, we have been able to locate a few “bugs” and fix most of them. Often, the issues arise from the discrepancies between computer, tablet and mobile views.
We are trying to be more diligent in checking that the improvements we make on the laptop display translate into the mobile view, and have added this check as part of our roll-out phase when we make changes to the website.
Some things sometimes behave differently on smartphones compared to laptops or tablets. For instance, you have probably noticed the “Chat box”, which enables you to drop us a quick note, and which can be accessed on the bottom right corner of your screen on laptop and tablet. On mobile devices, the box can be accessed via a button on the quick bar at the bottom… but this button sometimes displays with some delay as it loads in a separate, asynchronous code, upon which we have no control. See below for an illustration of the issue: the screenshot on the left shows the home page not fully loaded, with the chat button not showing yet on the quick access bar (the red cross marks the spot); the second screenshot shows the chat button (circled green) on the quick access bar after the page has loaded.
If there are things still not behaving properly, please let us know. Between Janice and I, we can only cover a few devices and often we are not aware of a bug on a different platform (iPhones, I’m looking at you, as we’re both running Android smartphones).
Things we can’t fix… yet!
One of the main issues is the behaviour within the “product pages”. At the moment, this is one of the ready-made blocks of the design package, and we have little capacity to tweak it the way we want.
The first thing we would like to change is the ability to display the number of items still in stock. We have found a workaround for products that don’t have variants (eg. books), but the workaround sadly didn’t work for any page where we have the handy “drop down” box with the different shades to select from for instance. So, for the moment, the workaround remains in our draft only, until we can figure out how to make it work for products with options.
The second thing we would like to change is the behaviour of the slider with the photos within a product page with options. At the moment, as soon as we select a shade from the dropdown menu, the images not related to that shade disappear and we cannot see them all anymore under the slider. (see below). This is sometimes frustrating when trying to select multiple shades, and we haven’t found a practical solution yet.
The development platform has a system of “feature voting”, and we have been voting and asking for these features to happen. If they don’t get rolled out, we may look into developing our own “product page block” later down the line, so that we can control everything.
Things we are working on...
Part 1. Developing the Baa! Community
One of the biggest take-outs from the current Covid-19 situation is that we are extremely grateful for the community around Baa! and we would like to make it grow, and to offer to all of you a little (Stone)haven where we can chat, exchange, share projects, get inspired, share knowledge, etc.
For one thing, we are continuing the virtual knit groups for now. These happen every Wednesday at 7pm and every Friday at 10.30am (British Summer Time) on Zoom. Whether you are a regular, or haven’t joined yet, you all are welcome! We are grateful for the moments shared together, and always look forward to seeing what you are all working on. [To join, simply download the Zoom app, enter the meeting id (288-959-5554) and password (238462) at the time of the meeting, and you will be right there with us!]
As we want to plan for “after”, and hopefully help our community strive, we have opened a Forum on the website. You will see it appear in the menu after you log in to your account on Baa! It is meant to be laid back, with limited moderation as long as we all remain courteous to each other. Do use it to exchange, chat, share progress pictures, tempt us all with your yarn goodness, ask questions, pick each other’s brain, etc. We would like it to be like an extension of our lovely, friendly knit groups, a place to share and encourage each other, or simply to chat away. We hope to see you there often!
Things we are working on...
Part 2. ...
... will be unveiled in the next blog post, and we cannot wait to share it with you!
For now, thanks for staying with us 'til the end!
See you soon!
(dedicated geek for Baa!)