Early vendors of souvenir plots were restricted to small adverts in printed media, such as Exchange and Mart and Private Eye. The internet transformed to process by which we are able to advertise our project.
What Laura noticed in 2006 was that eBay created a new opportunity to place this unusual offering in front of millions of potential customers. eBay was our number one platform for several years, until we withdrew from selling there in 2010. The reasons for stopping selling on eBay were simply that it proved impossible to explain who we were and why we were selling land, within the constraints of eBay. eBay constantly battled against the risks of sales taking place off their site, which cost them their commission. Increasingly we wanted to encourage our customers to contact us. Increasingly, our website proved to be a better way of engaging with our customers.
Laura built our first website in 2006. I built our second website a few months later. Neither were much of an improvement on eBay, in that they contained simple brochure content and a very simple “shop” linked to PayPal. We recognised that we needed a professional site and we approached Solar Storm Design who created our first site, at lochaberhighlandestates.com in 2007.
At the end of 2009 we realised that we needed to create a new site for our new land offering. We planned to sell a range of sizes of plot from Glencoe Wood, and needed a domain that people could immediately recognise, type into a browser, remember and pronounce. Highland Titles became our new brand. To build that brand we approached Hotscot, the largest web design agency in the Highlands and within easy reach of Glencoe Wood. Hotscot have worked with us now on several versions of highlandtitles.com, plus several other websites, such as wildcathaven.com and highlandtitlesVIP.com.
The first Highland Titles site was a year in development and was launched in the second half of 2010. Its first test was following an appearance on Sunrise television with Lady Julia Morris.
The hosting took quite a pounding, because of the huge surge in interest, and we subsequently contracted all hosting issues to Solar Storm, who have ensured that subsequent peaks in demand following television appearances have caused us no problems.
In 2013 Hotscot rebuilt the database that keeps track of all orders, which is easier said than done, but by late 2014 it was clear that WordPress, which had served us well since 2010, was no longer powerful enough to take us forward and cope with the huge increases in sales that have taken place over the ten years that we have been trading.
So, in 2015, Hotscot presented a radical revision of the Highland Titles site, that would permit valuable flexibility in the way that we sell. Only now, 18 months later, is the beta version of that massive upgrade becoming available. Already, all sales on mobile devices are making use of the new site, and customer landing on our desktop site are given the opportunity to try the new site.
The new site will, once complete, be available in 12 languages. It will display correctly in all screen sizes, from mobile phones to massive desktops. It will integrate seamlessly with our new production processes and be available for use by our customer support team and by our nature reserve volunteer team, who often need to have plot co-ordinates at their fingertips, when visitors forget to bring their documents or want to download the App at the reserve.
The new site will include elements of the App and most importantly will provide an opportunity for customers to register their land on our Highland Titles Land Registry.
At the end of this huge undertaking, we hope and expect that the new site will not require another upgrade for many years to come. we are grateful to Hotscot for such an exceptional achievement and hope that you, our customers, find the new site a pleasure to use. I would welcome your feedback.
Update, October 2016. Our new website is now operational at www.highlandtitles.com. Many thanks to everyone at Hotscot (now Strutt Digital), to Attacat and to all our beta testers. The new website is performing well and is enhancing our customers’ experience, making it even easier and better to support our work. Thank You Everyone.