Case studies Web development

Web development case study: Red Barn Market, Victoria

Web development case study: Red Barn Market, Victoria by Sean Enns

Red Barn Market is “Your everyday specialty store,” four market-style, locally focused grocery stores in Greater Victoria. From their first location in West Saanich to their newest location at Latoria Walk, they’ve always grown carefully and deliberately, remaining focused on sourcing the best in locally grown, locally and ethically raised, and locally made foods from the Island’s best farms and food producers. Their philosophy of Island Grown, Island Raised, and Island Made is a nod to their feelings about local, about creating a sustainable, local economy.

The problem

Red Barn was growing: quickly beyond their website’s ability to grow with them. It was becoming increasingly difficult to showcase the types of content they were creating, to ensure that each had equal real estate. Mobile usage was up, too, and while they had a mobile-optimized site, we talked about a “mobile first” approach to content that would better suit their visitors.

How Harbour City SEO solved their problem.

When I looked at sites I really liked, and thought about what I liked about them, it wasn’t that they did everything well. Rather, they did one thing especially well. Every decision we’d make in this project would have this question driving it.

Does (this solution) do one thing better than it's competitors? If so, how can we make it work?

The skinny

Red Barn is a streamlined operation, with a group of exceptionaly talented people behind it. The new website would basically feature unified designs and themes that would let them focus on creating great content, with the occasional bit of help from Harbour City SEO.

Home is where the heart is
Red Barn is a growing company with a growing number of initiatives, events, and promotions. They needed a site that scaled, that offered a lot of different ways to display and showcase content, that behaved responsively on all major browsers; ultimately, a site that could meet the growing demands of a growing company.

A recipe for success
One of the biggest traffic drivers for Red Barn is their recipe section. Featuring fresh, local ingredients and staff favourites, recipes are a big part of what people love about them. We had tried several recipe plugins in the past, each with mixed (and less than ideal) results. We needed a better solution for showcasing recipes.

Location, location, location (location)
Red Barn has four locations in Greater Victoria, each with its own story. Telling that story with one location page wasn’t going to give it enough real estate, building four websites was going to create an excess of work, and push costs over the edge.

Behind the food
The story of Red Barn is a story about community, about the farmers and food producers that have filled Red Barn’s shelves (and their client’s carts) since day one, and that continue to fill them today

An all-in-(n)one solution

Instead of one site, what I recommended was four installations of WordPress with unified brand, type, and colour elements. By working with four distinct installations, we could select the format for each that would best showcase its unique content.

Red Barn website network
How I imagined the new websites would connect together.

Image by Sean Enns

The main site would be infinitely scalable and possess myriad layout options, featuring an infinitely flexible grid-based design, industry-leading sliders, and an easy-to-use drag and drop page builder to put it all together.

Red Barn main website
The primary site for Red Barn Market

For the recipe, story, and location sites, I spent significant time seeking out the best-in-class in each category. We explored using recipe plugins, but ultimately decided that a recipe-focused website would showcase food more effectively. The location sites were done with a single theme (originally developed for food trucks) across a multi-site installation, and the story site is a personal favourite for showcasing feature-length content.

Red Barn recipes
Red Barn recipes

Red Barn Recipes at

Red Barn locations
Red Barn locations

Red Barn’s four locations on a multi-site installation starting from

Red Barn stories
Red Barn stories

Red Barn stories at

12 days of Red Barn

To celebrate the launch of the new sites, the team developed a promotion titled “12 days of Red Barn,” where each day, they’d hide a clue on one of the websites or social media profiles. The promotion was a huge success; visitors had a fun way to explore the new websites, and Red Barn managed to engage visitors across each of their channels.

12 Days of Red Barn
12 Days of Red Barn

Key features at a glance:

  • Networked site installation.
  • Imported and stylized feed imports from sites in the network.
  • Best-in-class premium themes.
  • Responsive, clean designs that perform well on all devices and browsers.
  • Came in under budget.

The success of this project is largely thanks to the team at Red Barn. I couldn’t have done it without them, and am looking to new and exciting projects in 2015.

Want to see more? Check them out in real-time at, or share your stories and successes below!

Story written by Sean Enns


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