Dales Water Services Ltd are a local company who specialise in delivering private water supplies. As the company grew they found that purchasing rather than hiring specific machinery was more cost effective but their requirements left such machinery underutilised.

In order to maximise the return on investment for one particular class of item the company tasked Bronco with creating a website for their new company; Wobeck Crane Services.

Content first

For many brochure style websites the most complex interaction required of a user is to complete a contact form, the remainder of the website is a collection of text pages which provide information about the company, product or service with call to actions aimed to persuade potential customers to get in touch.

The Wobeck Crane Services website is one such website. So, with little in the way of complex functionality to think about the focus for us is to design the content in an engaging way that flows naturally for the reader. This isn’t always an easy task depending on how the content is first delivered by the client.

Often clients will deliver long form content with few or no headings and styled in a way dictated by the styling options available in Microsoft Word. In such cases a designer may need to put their content writer hat on and edit, reorder or even rewrite the content so it’s easier to work into a design. We also look to break content down into smaller blocks that allows us to be more creative with a design whilst also making the content more readable and easily scanned.

This approach is evident throughout the homepage of the Wobeck Crane website, especially the ‘The Crane’ section where a mix of layouts, alignment and text styling, coupled with additional iconography, creates a more engaging design with a more defined hierarchy.

fig 1. Home page – The Crane section

Skipping jQuery

At present the JavaScript library, jQuery, is approximately 84kb minified, and less when using gzip compression or a cache from the Google CDN. When I started developing websites my inability to author vanilla JS made jQuery a necessity in all projects. But as time has progressed I’ve begun to wonder if I need to be so reliant on jQuery now.

The language has progressed, as to have my abilities and with a small website like Wobeck Crane Services I knew there wouldn’t be much JavaScript needed. It seemed the perfect project to abandon jQuery and see just how much this would help the speed of the website.

On finishing the project my main JavaScript file totalled 17kb minified and 7kb compressed with the bulk of the code relating to the mobile navigation and a tab/accordion section. In turn this helped achieve a 200kb (130kb compressed) homepage on mobile. This means sticking with jQuery would have increased the non-compressed homepage by approximately 40%. That’s a huge win.

fig 2. Dev Tools @ mobile screen size

Writing vanilla JS rather than jQuery wasn’t without its problems. I had to change to a lightbox plugin that wasn’t reliant on jQuery and I had to abandon certain types of jQuery effects such as slideDown(); though I chose to replace these with CSS animation and transitions in some instances.

For a simpler project like this I think it’s right to not rely on a library that increases the overall page weight by so much but for more complex projects I still think I’ll be using jQuery. The ease of authoring more complex functionality and dealing with cross browser issues makes the extra page weight more acceptable when dealing with larger websites.

Lastly, what the client thought…

We required a new website for our growing specialist crane hire business and visited several companies that could potentially deliver our new website for us. Right from the outset the welcome and creative thinking at Bronco impressed us and we knew that they would deliver what we were looking to achieve in a good timescale and for a fair price. The website was discussed throughout development and the final product looks great, functions well and delivers the information about our company that we want. Needless to say we are very impressed with the service and skills of Bronco. We look forward to working with them in the future.
Jonathan Dalton – Director, Wobeck Crane Services