An ever-improving user experience for YYOGA
YYOGA® is a Canadian Yoga, fitness and wellness company with 12+ studio locations in Vancouver, BC and Toronto, ON.
In 2016, YYOGA had reached a turning point in the company’s growth and had outgrown its website. Having multiple physical locations, each with its own set of events, classes, and promotions that required complex scheduling and registration capabilities, a growing audience that needed to be educated and engaged, and a custom app to maintain, YYOGA had been trying to build a complete digital brand experience for their customers. As the company continued to scale, having a website solution that aligned with their growth goals became more and more urgent— they needed a site they could leverage to promote and build the brand.
YYOGA had a website that they’d worked with developers to build. Instead of beginning with a technology plan and a strategy for the overarching user journey and user experience, YYOGA had followed a build-as-you-go approach. The Marketing Manager and Head of IT had an ever-growing wishlist of functionality and requirements that they continued to throw to developers. The developers had to figure out HOW these compounding requirements could be added to the existing build. By the end of the project, the website, which on the back-end was a cobbled mess of platforms and highly custom code for the booking platform, marketing site, the YYOGA app, and landing pages, had grown to a monstrous size.
As the technical burden ballooned, the team at YYOGA became increasingly unhappy—the solution was not effective. According to the Marketing Manager, the user experience was all over the place—instead of having built the site for a specific target user, they’d ended up with something that tried to be all things. In short, they’d overbuilt—rather than having too little, YYOGA now had too much. The team didn’t like the complicated workflow required to manage the site or the limitations of API integrations that required ongoing, specialized maintenance at a significant cost. The developers were frustrated because they’d done the best job they could have, given the technical requirements. YYOGA had sunk significant resources into a website solution that was increasing in cost but not value, and they couldn’t see a way out.
The decision to make a change came as they were preparing to launch a new promotion and program in less than six months. To be a success, the new program required a solid promotional effort, so leadership made the executive decision to rebuild the website to support the company’s marketing needs going forward. YYOGA’s 3-person marketing team was overladen with other projects and lacked the internal resources to take on the website, so they decided to hire a digital agency to build the new website.
The Marketing Manager and Head of IT at YYOGA had several criteria for the project:
- Specialists in brand experience design. The Marketing Manager wanted an agency with expertise in brand design and website development to produce the new YYOGA website.
- Fresh start with focus. The Marketing Manager and Head of IT both wanted to wipe the slate clean and build a new website from the ground up. This time, the site would focus on promoting and building YYOGA’s business.
- Complete, well-planned technology solution. YYOGA had matured significantly since the last website build. To continue on their growth path, they required a technology solution that would meet their business needs and streamline workflows.
- Vancouver-based. Last but not least, the Marketing Manager was adamant about having a door to knock on and people he could meet face-to-face (hold accountable) in his home base.
Bottom line: YYOGA needed a website that added value to their business, and they needed it to be live before the launch of their new promotion and program. The website needed to be technically sound, meeting all of the company's needs for booking, content, and marketing, and it had to be easy for the team to manage going forward. They had to hire a web design agency for a short-term project to get it done in time.
YYOGA’s Marketing Manager and Head of IT interviewed several Vancouver agencies for the project. When they got to Skyrocket, we impressed them with our user-centric approach to website design—we start with the user and define the full digital experience that we want the user to have.
What we did
YYOGA hired Skyrocket on a fixed project for website services, agreeing beforehand on the scope of work, budget, and timelines.
YYOGA’s Marketing Manager and Head of IT joined Skyrocket for a kickoff meeting to refine our understanding of the challenges YYOGA’s marketing team was experiencing. From there, Skyrocket worked through our proven process for website projects: information architecture, technology plan and integrations, user stories, user flow, UX design, UI design, content development, analytics setup and integrations, development, DNS setup, QA and testing, and launch.
Forward-looking technology plan
Both YYOGA’s Marketing Manager and Head of IT knew they wanted a brand new website, and Skyrocket knew that if we didn’t change the way YYOGA was approaching the website as a whole, YYOGA would likely be in this same spot (ready to tear it all down and rebuild) a couple of years down the road. As brands grow, the practise of tearing down and rebuilding is risky and costly.
To ensure YYOGA avoided this scenario, Skyrocket’s technology plan introduced two key elements from web development best practices:
- Agile workflow. Skyrocket introduced a development operations framework with an Agile workflow that would allow YYOGA to evolve the website constantly. For this website project, the framework enabled the Skyrocket and YYOGA teams to collaborate and trade insights efficiently.
- Headless Content Management System (CMS). Skyrocket would build the website using a headless CMS which would focus on content architecture and the storage and delivery of structured content, rather than design. This way, the large amounts of content being developed for the website would be highly organized in the backend and would stay that way even if the front-end was redesigned in the future. YYOGA would be able to refresh the website design without reimplementing the whole CMS.
Satisfying, efficient, prudent technology solution
YYOGA’s new website and technology plan met all of their requirements and applied current best practices in web development to keep them ahead of the curve. Here’s what we gave them.
- Highly-organized content and a sustainable way to manage content. We onboarded YYOGA to a clean, well-structured CMS and organized old content in a way that made sense going forward. The headless CMS enabled YYOGA to prioritize content architecture without needing to decide how it would be presented on the front end. The solution was robust, yet easy-to-use and would scale with YYOGA’s needs as well as allow the marketing team to manage edits.
- Improved user experience and streamlined workflow with best-fit components. Rather than rely on proprietary technology and API integrations that were too costly and resulted in a user experience that fell short of expectations, the new technology solution leveraged best-of-breed components and applications to streamline workflow, minimize the need for custom code, and prioritize user experience. Now, complex capabilities like booking and landing page creation would be handled via components. YYOGA loved it. What the Head of IT loved most was the idea that a robust system was possible without needing to build a complex, proprietary system that required specialized maintenance over time. The change freed YYOGA from needing developers to handle all things digital and gave YYOGA the control while also doing what was best for users.
- Well-packaged digital experience fully owned by YYOGA. Skyrocket implemented the YYOGA brand thoroughly in the design. We implemented branded skins for any third-party widgets (e.g., registration and scheduling) to ensure a continuous brand experience for users.
- Efficient system for site changes or updates. YYOGA ran with the new development operations framework and project management tools. The team was able to enter and organize feedback, including logging new items, reviewing tickets, and adding estimates, so that pieces of work could be prioritized and actioned easily. This flow was key to completing the content population aspect of the project on time.
- Delivered and launched on schedule. Skyrocket built and launched right on schedule. Though the project plan was fixed, we were still able to fold in some of the team’s early requests after launch.
- System for incorporating internal feedback. Something magical happens whenever a website project goes from static mockups to a clickable website—fresh ideas begin to flow. Skyrocket gave YYOGA’s marketing team a way to capture this feedback from other teams in a request backlog. We knew that having a site to interact with would enable them to visualize a more specific user experience, and, as always, user needs will continue to evolve and will become more clear as time passes. It’s natural for requirements to change and ideas to evolve, and it’s smart to have a way to address the new, good ideas that will inevitably emerge. Skyrocket’s solution enabled the marketing team to prioritize and action requests once they had the resources available without delaying the release of the new website.
(We know that it’s hard to know everything you’ll ever want or need when you begin a project. That’s why we recommend Agile development cycles. Read more about how we work in our blog post “An Agile Way To Better Work.”)
Overall, Skyrocket built a website that would serve YYOGA for the long term and could be adapted and iterated on quickly in the short term.
Once the new site had launched, YYOGA’s three-person marketing team could finally use their website in a meaningful way. Having a strong digital foundation for the brand with technology and tools that supported a new, streamlined workflow freed the team to focus on the brand’s upward growth trajectory. The day-to-day expense of the website significantly decreased—hosting bills came down to a fraction of what they were before. The marketing team felt relief because the clean and organized web solution freed them to make decisions, build campaigns, and enabled them to execute their strategy on their own schedule.
The YYOGA website saw heavy traffic quickly. The new site structure gave YYOGA richer data to work with and actionable insights. Shortly following the website’s launch, YYOGA hired Skyrocket for another fixed project to evolve the user experience based on the user data collected, where Skyrocket made adjustments to the user flow to improve user experience. After this second major version launched, YYOGA retained Skyrocket for website maintenance.
The new website was an important starting point for the greater vision for YYOGA’s digital presence. Skyrocket created a strong digital foundation for the brand and ensured that YYOGA’s future investment into development would be more effective and efficient as the brand matured.
The new yyoga.ca improved its experience on every level and continued to make over 500,000 monthly users very happy.