Making the sea searchable, offshore and offline
Yachting Pages Media Group (YPMG) is a world leader in providing products and services to the super-yacht market, connecting buyers with suppliers. A trusted brand that launched in 2003 and delivers industry-leading results for owners, captains, crew and businesses worldwide.
Well known for its annual printed directories used regularly by yacht crew globally, the company offers a portfolio of services, including its online search engine, delivery service to yachts, Refit Guide, Marketing Services and now the Yachting Pages App.
So whether you need engine services in Monaco, Champagne in Antigua, or berthing in Fort Lauderdale, Yachting Pages is the answer.
YPMG asked us to convert their 23,000+ database into an easy-to-use app that crew members had requested. The catch? The app – and every listing in it – had to work in the middle of the ocean, and therefore offline, and take up a limited amount of space on the phone.
Yachting Pages understood what they and their users wanted from their app and the technical challenges this represented.
Crews in remote locations are unlikely to have a cellular connection on their devices; and if Wi-Fi is available on board, the crew themselves are typically second-in-line to use the network after the owner of the boat, if they can get signal at all. In turn, the app had to function offline with similar efficiency as the Yachting Pages website online.
Yachting Pages’ database of 23,000+ listings is added to and revised on a daily basis.The app, therefore, had to be regularly and automatically updated when the user was online. The database itself needed be streamlined to stop the app taking up excessive space on crews’ devices, and to make mobile searches fast, smooth and simple.
How Calvium helped
While Michelle Williams, Yachting Pages’ Website and Digital Marketing Manager, knew what the business’ software must do, Calvium were on hand to provide the architectural and design thinking, plus the solid project management to ensure the app was completed on time and on budget. We kicked things off by researching our target users’ behaviour and expectations, then by refining the project brief to deliver software that could be maintained and managed by Yachting Pages over the long term.
Making the business’ database accessible via the app was our first priority. This involved reworking elements of Yachting Pages’ existing database to make it lighter and more mobile friendly, YPMG supplied a custom API to allow the database to ‘speak to’ the app. The database we designed and built was made accessible via a user-friendly search interface, allowing crew members and owners to search listings based on the item or service needed and their intended location. Users could also search for suppliers based on their actual location, with detailed maps indicating the exact location for each listing. The user could then favourite these listings for future use.
Milestones for the project were signposted at the beginning of the build process. “What I liked about working with Calvium was the level of organisation,” says Michelle. “We arranged meetings in advance and knew what was happening and when, and Tom’s [Melamed, our Client Services Director] project plan included info on the other suppliers involved in the project, which helped manage our expectations.”
Throughout, Michelle and the Yachting Pages team were kept informed about progress via regular check-ins, even when Tom was unavailable. “When we first decided to work with Calvium, Tom invited me to the office and introduced me to everybody so I knew who would be working on usability, and on code and otherwise. This meant I was confident to pick up the phone and liaise with each. There was no project downtime, as a result.”
Our agile working process meant we worked iteratively and Michelle had input at each stage of design and build. “Tom made it clear that our involvement would be especially important at the beginning of the project when Calvium were getting to grips with our business. The team created a series of designs and walked me through them at the Calvium office, which I took to my own team and gave feedback. We did the same with the project wireframes. In this way, the process was responsive and controlled.
“For me, this responsiveness was important. When something went wrong, or if I noticed something I hadn’t flagged before, Calvium were quick to respond. And when we’ve had issues with other suppliers, the team have also tried to help. If we’ve got questions or queries, Calvium explained the answers in our language. While I’m the Digital Manager, I’m not as techie as Calvium. They know their trade. I feel confident that I can leave them to get on and if they’re going to do something, I know they’ll do it. I don’t have to chase, or micro-manage, or worry.”
Results and ROI
Following rigorous internal testing, the app was launched in August 2017 – nine months after we received the project brief. Immediate user feedback validated our focus on database and design, with crews finding the app fast, simple and smooth to use.
“The magic is you’re in the middle of the ocean, and everything just works,” says Tom.