CASE STUDY: BILINGUAL (isiXHOSA / ENGLISH) WEBSITE WITH CHATBOT FOR THE MALL KWT
Scope: Strategy, Website Hosting, Domain Management, Design, Development & Execution
In the heart of King William’s Town lies The Mall – formerly MetLife Mall – a shopping centre offering residents of this bustling Eastern Cape town a comprehensive shopping experience with 80 stores, including Checkers, Game, Woolworths and a host of fashion stores from big names to mom ‘n pops stores, as well as shops selling homeware, mobile and tech, and specialty items; and services.
Inclusivity has been one of the core themes of 2020 and in January 2020 Eris Property Group cemented itself as an industry leader as it commissioned a new website for The Mall that would be just this. With a shopper base that’s either English, amaXhosa, or bilingual in English and isiXhosa, Eris Property Group did something unparalleled in the South African shopping centre landscape: creating South Africa’s first- ever bilingual shopping centre website with a chatbot for The Mall.
Website URL: www.themallkwt.co.za
Client: The Mall KWT / Eris Property Group
Design Commencement: February 2020
Development Commencement: March 2020
Live Date: 27 March 2020
Design: Jana Visagie, The Blue Room
Developer: Jono Duguid, The Blue Room
Website CMS: WordPress
Project Lead: Jono Duguid, The Blue Room
Marketing Objectives & Strategy
- To create a responsive website for The Mall that adapts to mobile phone, tablet and desktop equally and offer a first-class website experience that is not data heavy.
- To upgrade The Mall’s website to fit their centre’s identity and brand better.
- To create a bilingual website experience, offering users the chance to browse in isiXhosa or English.
- To create a chatbot that can assist users with simple questions and to better navigate the website.
Implementation & Tactics
A new website for The Mall was designed in February 2020 with development commencing the following month.
The website’s core focus was to celebrate inclusivity in a way that had not been done previously. This was delivered by creating a responsive and bilingual (English and isiXhosa) website that provided users with a chatbot that spoke their language. The website launched on Friday, 27 March 2020.
Part of the inclusivity offering meant that the website had to be responsive – adapting to the user’s device, be it mobile, tablet or desktop – whilst also being data sensitive and maintaining The Mall’s brand and delivering “the full” user experience. This was implemented through strategic development that included image compression and caching.
It is becoming increasingly important to speak to consumers in their home language – making them feel comfortable, understood, and appreciated. As The Mall has both a high concentration of isiXhosa and English speaking residents, creating a bilingual website was a simple, yet effective way to be inclusive and create a true feeling of belonging amongst the community. This, the most important part of the inclusivity offering, quickly became the USP for the website and beyond that, catapulted The Mall to the front, as a leader in connecting with users.
To create a fully immersive bilingual experience, the website was developed twice (once in each language) on language differentiating subdomains, en.themallkwt.co.za (English website) and xh.themallkwt.co.za (isiXhosa website), respectively.
As chatbots are a great way to help users find the answers they need quickly, and inject additional personality to a website, a chatbot was added to both the isiXhosa and English versions of the website – with each bot speaking the respective language. Named Siya, after Rugby World Cup winning captain – and Eastern Cape born and raised Siya Kolisi, the bot can assist users and help them find what they’re looking for even more simply.
Impact & Results
1. To increase responsiveness
The website is responsive across all devices from desktop to tablet to mobile phone. It also loads in 1.25sec and uses very little data, using between 700kb – 1.8mb per page, depending on device.
2. Aligning the website with the brand
The Mall’s website was updated to reflect
the brand and identity of the centre to carry cohesion between other branding and brand elements in-centre and online, as well as better reflect the centre’s shopper to make the website more relatable to its user.
3. To create a bilingual user-experience
The Mall’s website offers amaXhosa and English users the opportunity to choose which language they’d prefer browsing in – followed by the website in chosen language (English or isiXhosa) with a simple language switcher included in the menu. All website copy is offered in both languages.
4. To add a chatbot to assist users
Siya the Chatbot was included on both the English and isiXhosa versions of the site and speaks to the user in their chosen language (English or isiXhosa) – not only offering basic assistance to users who are after quick answers, but also bringing additional personality to the website.