Vanessa Arbuthnott

More and more we’re finding ourselves working with skilled partners to deliver web site and web applications that really deliver. We’re very proud if our latest work on the Vanessa Arbuthnott Website, which we think shows the excellence that can be provided by working with expert partners.

Vanessa Arbuthnott approached Jealous Design with a brief to rebuild their website and increase their online trade. Jealous’ Creative Director, Andy Thorne, approached us to help them deliver a website that not only looked visually stunning but also provided all the functionality that was expected of an online shop, plus a little bit more.

New Partnerships

We’re happy to announce our latest partner; Jealous Design. Having worked closely with Jealous on this project (and a few more which are currently in the pipeline) we’ve found the design yin to our developer yang! We’re looking forward to helping Jealous provide their customers with top quality software which makes the web worth using. We’re also looking forward to providing our customers with the kind of beautiful, usable design and great digital marketing campaigns – across platforms like Twitter and Facebook – we know Jealous Design can provide.

The Platform

As time and the need for quality were important factors, Mehta Web chose to use Ruby on Rails as their development platform. To provide the basic shop functionality we took Substruct which included:

  • A simple content management system with blogging capabilities
  • A simple shopping cart
  • Product and order management
  • Security and a well tested code-base

Jealous Design provided us with the design concepts; we got to work making Substruct fit their brief.

Stunning Graphics

Vanessa Arbuthnott have been trading for over 10 years in the fabrics and textiles industry. Today they not only sell their fabrics worldwide but can also sell bespoke products made to order (such as curtains, cushions and blinds) and sell other products wrapped in any fabric available from their catalogue. Clearly the visual effects employed on the Vanessa Arbuthnott website needed to showcase their products prominently.

The first page includes a “featured product” section; this shows off two products from the website which are chosen from the sub-set of Vanessa Arbuthnott’s product line. To do this, we used Substruct’s built in product tagging mechanism to allow Vanessa Arbuthnott to choose which products should be showcased quickly and easily.

The main banner on the homepage needed the kind of style that attracted the eye and showed off as much of Vanessa’s products as possible. Where traditionally this might have been done in Flash, Mehta Web employed Search Engine Optimised technologies; CSS, HTML and JavaScript.

User Interface

It was important to give Vanessa Arbuthnott as much control as possible over the website; with all our products we like to make sure customers don’t have to keep coming back to get trivial things altered. We altered the default tagging system in Substruct to allow administrators to dictate the menu structure and amend the collections page.

We also used the Snippets (content that doesn’t need its own page) functionality to allow Vanessa to place text and images at the top of some of their products pages; see the Wall Covering page for an example. The text and image at the top of the page are all loaded in from a Snippet.


Vanessa Arbuthnott employs a loss leader in the form of samples; samples of fabrics which can be ordered at little or no cost so that customers can see the quality of Vanessa’s products. It was imperative to Vanessa that samples were

  1. Easy to buy
  2. Priced separately to products but
  3. Available from the same page

This required a departure from Substruct’s core; Mehta Web developed the bespoke functionality required to satisfy the user’s requirements. Ordering samples is now as easy as ordering products.

Frequently Asked Questions

Substruct’s FAQ system was functional but lacked some useful additions. Mehta Web added the following abilities to Vanessa’s FAQ:

  1. A “Quick List”, which shows at a glance all the questions in the FAQ
  2. Integration with the Contact Us form (requests made on this pop into the FAQ section in the administration console)
  3. Automatically emailing Vanessa’s response when it is entered into Substruct
  4. Seamless integration of previously asked questions if Vanessa wishes to add them to her FAQ


Substruct’s core didn’t have support for PayPal’s Website Payments Pro (WPP); the service Vanessa uses to process card transactions. To accommodate this, we built in support for WPP to Vanessa’s Substruct. Customer’s need not even know that PayPal is processing their card details. We integrated the WPP support so that it behaved exactly as any other payment gateway Substruct supports.

Vanessa wished to provide options for customers to pay via Cheque and over the phone after checkout. Mehta Web provided both these options, ensuring that these sales integrated with Substruct correctly and the fact that no payment had been processed didn’t cause an issue.


Vanessa wanted to encourage her customers to join the email newsletter. Mehta Web built this functionality into Substruct, ensuring seamless integration with the Administration console. Now Vanessa can view and export all their email addresses in CSV format for easy integration with email marketing software (such as MailChimp)

The Results

Thanks in a large part to the new website profits from online sales have increased over 200% month on month in January, Vanessa Arbuthnott now have a web application capable of processing and tracking their online orders and traffic has also increased.

The Design

Andy at Jealous Design also posted about the Vanessa Arbuthnott website on the Jealous Design blog.

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