Habitat Aid

Ecommerce, Magento 1.9, SEO

Award winning shop design, recognised at gardening ‘Oscars’

Habitat Aid are a Somerset based company who won ‘Website of the Year’ at the Garden Media Guild Awards 2018, the so- called gardening ‘Oscars’, which recognised its outstanding quality and content. Nick Mann, Habitat Aid’s founder, said:

“I’m so pleased. Creating our new look website has taken many, many hours of patient work, and I hope it’s an interesting and helpful place for people to come to. Our developers from Exeter, Daneswood, have been excellent.”

Habitat Aid came to us with an existing ecommerce website that was vastly underperforming and we redeveloped it in the Magento 1.9 platform. The company specialises in selling native British trees and plants that provide food and ecosystem support to other bugs and animals in the British garden. Their existing site was confusing to navigate around and find products, it had no sense of digital marketing and the buying and browsing needs of its audience. It was on an archaic software that was difficult to update and his existing developers couldn’t maintain it and integrate anything new with it. Their audience are: architects; people who are experienced in bulk buying native plants; contractors; wholesale orders, and private customers whose children have left home and they want to turn the pony paddock into a wild flower meadow.


The element of this build, that we are most proud of, was how we managed to transition the extensive text and info from the old site onto the new one. This was not simply a matter of exporting their database, as they didn’t have one. We wrote code and used scraping tools to extract the old site data (for nearly 400 products), clean that data up and then import it into a new database and then upload it into the new site. It was a very technical task, but it saved the client from having to retype and recreate all the copy from scratch.


We designed the new website on the Magento 1.9 ecommerce platform, overhauling their navigational architecture with new menu, category and sub-category organisation. His products are highly specialist so we employed filtering of products throughout the shop, with the filters being bespoke to that category: price, seasonality, region of origin, speed of growth, size, characteristics and basically any product variety they needed.

Images are now larger and zoomable (where possible that is, as some of the image originals were too small and he is still updating the images seasonally as and when he takes them). Habitat Aid knew the importance of Google, and asked us to optimise the site too. We were able to optimise the products as we went along, rather than just key pages, so thoroughly establishing good SEO.

The copy that accompanied each product was not basic. Habitat Aid sell a highly specialised product set with over 400 products that had extensive descriptions, titles, attributes, photos, and sometimes video, diagrams, spec drawings etc. It was almost a matrix of options. We highlighted to the client how confusing all these elements could be, and he worked with us in presenting the content in a digestible and user-friendly way. Thus adding ecommerce best practice to the design phase.

The shop also employs a minimum order/basket value of £50 to cover delivery costs. Habitat Aid has a drop shipping delivery function, so his supplier ships the stock/order direct to his customer. This way Habitat Aid maintain the site’s content only and liaises with his distributors on delivery.

Habitat Aid are great with their blogging strategy and their blog is a separate WordPress integration to the main site. The blog had existed for a long time and had a lot of authority on Google. The client keeps the blog regularly updated and is good on social media, which drives interest and communication with his audience. His blogs and social postings are informative, imaginative and highly readable, backed up by his passion and authority for his subject.

We love having this website on our portfolio, as it is a great example of a resourceful and information hungry shop.