The Horse Exchange

An equine portal with a modern design built around a bespoke publishing and payment facility…

About the client

The Horse Exchange has actually been running for quite a few years. But the website was looking very tired and technically was really out of date. It was recently purchased by our client, who wanted to put some love back into the project and in turn create something really special.

It is a one stop shop for everything that is equine. It offers you the opportunity to sell a horse, tack, equipment or even a vehicle. You can become a member of the Business Directory, which displays all sorts of businesses from the equine trade. There is also a way to sponsor and advertise your business on specific pages within the website.

the horse excahnge 1

What did the client want?

The idea is to make “The Horse Exchange” the place to go for everything equine. Somewhere you can sell your horse or market your equine business.

A modern, fresh design built over a bespoke publishing facility, with some complex user and administration options. A user would be able to register for an account and then upload items for sale. From their horse to a saddle and even a horse box. They can also advertise around the site by adding their own advert. As well as offering an Equine Business directory to help market UK businesses.

Payments for the services offered would be automated. Allowing a user to add a sales listing or buy advertising space at any time.

The client was planning to do their own branding and manage the digital marketing of the website themselves, once it was completed.

How we helped

After some initial planning discussions and some honest feedback, it was also agreed that we would look at creating a new logo and colour palette, rather than them doing it. We created several initial ideas. Two based on what the client was planning and one based on the information we had gathered. You could tell that the client was really surprised that she liked our idea the most! It shouldn’t have been a surprise because it was based on the elements that they liked.

Obviously, we needed to do the branding, as the first stage; everything else is based on this. However, it also helped the client as they were able to visualise things a lot easier and it was exciting to see a new style for the business.

The key to the site was the publishing facility; allowing admins and users to manage items and make payments. The key to making this a success was making it easy to use, or as simple as it could be.

They have three revenue streams

  • items for sale
  • advertising throughout the website
  • positions in an equine business directory

All are different in how they work and have quite different management issues. There was potential to complicate this even further, including the facility for users to upload their own items and buy positions in the directory, as well as adding advertising to the site. Then of course there is a payment gateway to handle all the payments.

There was also another consideration – by automating the management process this would allow anyone to add anything they like to the website; which can be a scary thought. We discussed this with the client as we felt it was important to allow the users to add and pay for items and allow them to be published immediately. It would be less likely for “Weird” items to be added if they had to be paid for. But we also built in a notification system where the client gets notified when a new item is added, so they can check it is suitable.

The client had lots of ideas regarding how they wanted the site to work. As well as things they wanted in the future but weren’t ready for yet. The way we helped the client the most, was to sit down with them and discuss all of these. We explained how things worked and how viable different elements were, formatting a list of the elements to include at launch and ones we could build in for the future.

We discussed items such as how the items for sale would be filtered, how would adverts be displayed and on which pages as well as the renewal process. Items that are for sale are added for a specific time period and we needed to discuss reminders, as well as other notifications and discounts for renewing users. There really were so many little things to work out which we wouldn’t expect a client to be aware of or even consider.

We always sit down with a client and create a project plan. But in this case, we needed much more and by asking detailed questions and producing a very detailed development document, we really helped them understand the website we were building.

What were the results?

This project was complex and required a high level of detailed planning, without which it would have been hard to complete the site properly. The client was involved in this throughout the project and because of that she knew exactly how the website would work once it was completed.

We were very excited to launch this website and the client was extremely happy with what we had achieved. The site is growing at a speed that suits the client and she is in complete control of the site and the direction it goes in.

  • The Sokada team are friendly, efficient and creative. Their service has gone beyond building a modern functioning website that I am proud of, to helping me with emails, business support, analytics and social media. I cannot recommend Sokada more highly, they are and will continue to be, an invaluable part of my business.

    Fiona Blaxland

    The Horse Exchange