From the desk of self proclaimed Benevolent Web Dictator Jeremy Arntz. 

Since launching the redesigned in November of 2012 we’ve been busy making improvements to the site. Some of the changes are visible, but many are behind the scenes. The web development team at ACK is not only tasked with improving and maintaining, but we also build many of the internal tools that our coworkers use to ensure our customers receive the best service.

As hard as we try we aren’t perfect and unfortunately in early 2013 we realized that the design of our shopping cart code was not flexible enough for our future plans so we spent some time rewriting so it would be much easier to modify and maintain. From a customer’s perspective there wasn’t much of a difference except it was no longer necessary to save your shopping cart. If you’re logged in your shopping cart is automatically saved.

Product filtering in the new version of the site was very basic with few options. So we went to work expanding our filters to include the major product attributes for each category. We took our time to design and build the new filtering system which resulted in smoothest feature launch in ACK history. We are very pleased with the results of our hard work. 

Along the way we were able to create a set of tools for our warehouse team that converted the majority of our paper-based processes like picking and sorting to paperless systems using tablets. The new tablet based system has improved efficiency, provided enhanced metrics to help improve our accuracy, and drastically reduced the amount of paper we use.

Let’s be blunt our product search was not good. So we decided to make it better and now our search is good, but we know our customers expect more from us so we are working on making our search great.

If there’s one truth in web development it’s change. In the past it was common to have a  desktop version of your website and a separate mobile optimized version which made sense when there wasn’t much variation in mobile device screen sizes. Which is how the mobile version of was designed. The flaw in this was that every change we made on the desktop site we also had to make on the mobile site which lead to more work for us and most importantly a degraded experience for customers.

In recent years the consensus on how to address mobile web browsing has switched from having a dedicated mobile site to using responsive web design to modify the layout of “desktop” version of the site to be optimized for mobile. We kept the design of the site exactly the same, but at the code level we started over from scratch and the majority of the site is now fully responsive. We are very proud of how the site functions on phones, tablets, and of course the desktop.

Stay tuned for more updates throughout the year, thanks for reading!