According to the Urban Dictionary and to many of us here at FirstTracks, “Gare Bear” is a term of endearment — for a really nice guy named Gary. “A Gare Bear is always pleasant to be around and enjoys light-hearted conversation,” UD says. Well, we... Keep Reading: Gare Bear Gets Married
Dog Watch Is About Fun, Food, & Drink!
Dog Watch Cafe is located in beautiful Stonington Borough CT, directly overlooking Dodson Boatyard. The cafe offers a casual seaside atmosphere perfect for kicking back with good friends and family. The cafe’s name references a staggered boat deck duty shift where crew were said to be “dodging the watch,” or standing the “dodge watch.” This became shortened to “dog watch.” Another interpretation is that those sleeping get only “dog sleep” during this watch. And an old British seaman’s manual refers to these short shifts as “Curtailed Watches.” Cur-tailed, go figure. One thing we know for sure, though — the Dog Watch is a great way to keep the crew happy.
The Challenge: Keeping Organized
The Dog Watch project featured some unique challenges. The cafe has two locations in Stonington and Mystic as well as a catering service. All of these components needed to have their own flexible web real estate with unique menus, contact info, imagery, social media, events calendar, testimonials, and hours. All of these components needed to be built and managed efficiently so that if something changed, such as the location hours, the information wouldn’t have to be updated all over the site manually. We pulled all of this together using a combination of clever custom post types to best centralize all of the key information for each location, which makes it very easy to edit and maintain all of this related information as well as making future expansion a snap.
An Excellent Mobile Experience A Must
When you are running a restaurant business you need to make sure that your mobile access is on point. The Dog Watch website is no exception: About 60% of all the cafe’s traffic comes from mobile devices. Our approach and design needed to be excellent. The screen shots below don’t really do the experience justice, but they do provide a glimpse at how clean and organized the presentation looks without losing the visual punch we wanted to achieve throughout the site. Bottom line: We wanted to make sure it was easy for people to shop, find out what was happening at the cafe on any given night, and to quickly browse and explore the menu.
A Flexible Easy-to-Manage Menu System
The menu system we built into the Dog Watch website is something we are particularly proud of. It’s super easy to use and makes it very easy for the Dog Watch staff to maintain multiple seasonal menus on the website. We created two custom post types: one for Menus and one for Dishes. All Dog Watch needed to do was enter in all the dishes they had available at all their locations. (Even more efficient: The same dishes available at both locations only needed to be entered once.) The Menu post then assigned all the dishes into the menu sections where they belong. This approach allows Dog Watch to create as many menus as they like, such as different summer and fall menus, and makes swapping out the menus simple (in all of 5 seconds). Very cool stuff.
Seamless E-commerce with WooCommerce
We also built a new e-commerce store for the Dog Watch site. In addition to food and catering services, Dog Watch Cafe also sells a line of branded casual apparel and accessories to help spread good vibes well beyond the walls of the cafes. The Good Dog shop needed to be a tight integration to easily display relevant products in all the restaurant areas of the website as well as having a full online store that people could browse and filter through. The results are fantastic. The design makes it easy to feature select products in various areas of the site, and the online shop itself is clean and easy to use. The launch of the shop has been a great success, generating almost $1ok in value in just a few short months. With expansion possibilities limitless, the e-commerce store is an exciting additional revenue stream for the Dog Watch Cafe.
A Visual Design that Excites and Entices
The overarching theme to the redesign for the Dog Watch website was to make it more visually stunning. The cafe locations and facilities look amazing, the cafe food is excellent, and the people are the best. None of that was being shown on the previous version of the site. With access to an excellent professional photographer we were able to generate visuals for the site that really captured the essence of what it means to be at the Dog Watch Cafe—great food, great people, great times.
Improvements since site launch in February 2017
195%INCREASE in Sessions
81%INCREASE in Average Session Duration
46%DECREASE in Bounce Rate