Web Project: Open Road Bicycles

Visit the website at http://openroadbicycles.com.

When we started talking to Open Road Bicycles about refreshing their web presence we knew this was going to be an exciting project. Their passion and knowledge of the sport is contagious and clearly evident as soon as you walk into one of their four Jacksonville stores or see their staff help cyclists at local bike and sporting events.

  • Open Road Bicycles
  • Open Road Bicycles
  • Open Road Bicycles
  • Open Road Bicycles
  • Open Road Bicycles

Project Highlights

  • Open Road Bicycles staff now has full control of content using the ExpressionEngine content management system
  • Images automatically resize, reducing administration of site content
  • Content areas change depending on what type of content is used
  • Dynamic content based on bike manufacturer selected
  • Time sensitive data, such as bike events, automatically are removed once event is over

Talking with Scott Summey, a co-owner of Open Road Bicycles and San Marco’s Manager, it was clear Open Road was more than a bike shop. Over the past 17 years it has become a leading promoter of cycling in the Jacksonville area and has a large following of bikers as they sponsor many area biking and not-for-profit charity events.

Out with the Old

Like many web sites, Open Road’s site started to show its age. The latest bike technologies, equipment and accessories were nowhere to be seen. Time sensitive data such as group ride schedules, bike events and inventory were hard to keep updated as they had to rely on outside web developers to make changes instead of using a web-based content management system. In addition, their website just didn’t project their expert knowledge.

Engineering the Frame

Before jumping into the look and feel of the web site Gist Create mapped out the various project requirements and built grey box wireframes. This allowed us to focus on the hierarchy and placement of information, as well as identify the necessary content relationships. This process also helped identify key search engine optimization strategies, something that is critical to ranking well and getting the site in front of users.

Updated Design

Once the page and organizational structure was finalized we were given the green light to start the design. Working with the existing Open Road Bicycles logo, which had a strong yellow and black color scheme, we pushed this theme across the site. To complement the bold style, large lifestyle images of bikers were used on each page to engage and immerse users into the sport and benefits of biking. This was also carried out in each page header, bike category, and individual bike image (which can be enlarged so users can see the bikes in their full glory).

Expert Opinion

The bike shop staff at each location has a wealth of experience so we made sure areas were provided to communicate this knowledge. For individual bike models detailed descriptions were provided, including an area for employees to provide expert opinion and recommendations if desired to help bikers select the ideal model for their level and budget. In addition a blog was provided allowing the staff to share their biking insight and give details on new equipment, bike technology, training and more. As biking enthusiasts we’re excited to follow this feed.

Manageable Content with ExpressionEngine

Keeping the web site up-to-date is critical, especially when you have a large following of users that are looking for the latest bike news, rides, events and products. While there are many content management systems out there, many fall short when it comes to ease-of-use and flexibility.

We are big fans of ExpressionEngine’s robust tools and simplicity. The system fit perfectly with this site. Open Road Bicycles’ staff can now securely manage all the site’s content keeping site visitors up-to-date with new bike models, gear, shop services, blog articles, rides, and events.

Google Loves Open Road Bicycles

We are constantly asked how to rank well in search engines. One of the major elements is having a site that allows search engines to index the site properly. This has a lot to do with how the site is built and structured. Attention was given to each section of Open Road Bicycles’ web site, the key phrases used, as well as the linking structure. While it’s still early, Open Road is doing really well for the key terms we are targeting. We also took advantage of the old site and properly redirected indexed pages to the appropriate new locations so old references wouldn’t be broken.

What We Did

Requirement development, research and competitive audit, information architecture, user interface design, CSS/XHTML template development, ExpressionEngine customization and integration, email campaign design and management, integration with social media such as Facebook, Twitter template design, and web hosting.

We wanted a nice-looking, professional website. Gist Create made it clear that their goal was not to deliver just pretty graphics, but a site that would truly work for us and bring customers through our doors. They took the time to learn what makes our company unique so they could clearly communicate that message. They meticulously programmed our web site, educated us, and trained us how to manage our website with ExpressionEngine. Ultimately, we received not just a great-looking web site, but a comprehensive marketing tool that we can use to grow our business.

— Scott Summey, Co-owner, Open Road Bicycles