I’ve done well over 100 web development projects with people often calling me to help revamp their websites so that they work to bring them traffic and customers. My latest makeover is for a comedy duo, Melissa Story and Precious Chong at http://sexandthesingleparent.com. Here’s a little glimpse into the thought process behind the changes.
Home Page: Before and After
The original site was developed as a WordPress blog.
Blogs by default show the latest posts on the homepage. But as you can see this doesn’t make for a visually interesting experience and doesn’t give the visitor who has just landed on the site a sense for the scope of the site and doesn’t give them reason to explore.
The new site is still a WordPress blog and still displays the most recent posts, but does it in a visually engaging way with custom images. I’ve set a featured post at the top to showcase their work. The primary goal or my most wanted response when someone lands on this site is to simply have them explore. This invites the visitor to scroll down and engage with the site. Although it’s not visible from this screenshot, each type of post (text, video, podcast) is represented by a symbol to indicate what they’ll find when they click through.
Blog Post: Before and After
Visually, the content takes a more prominent place with the redesign. And now that the visitor has expressed some interest in the content we want to invite a response from the viewer. If the viewer scrolls down the page, the large header disappears, but the top navigation remains (blue bar).
In the old site there were some social sharing buttons under the content. In the new site, the social sharing buttons are still there, but are more interesting visually. They are also dynamic and are always visible on the page if the visitor scrolls up or down.
Our new goal, once someone has expressed an interest in the content, is to get them to identify themselves so that they can be contacted either through email or social media (whatever they prefer). So once they click on any piece of content, they’ll see prominent green and blue buttons on each page. If you glance at the page quickly you’ll see that your eyes will naturally fall on one of these those two buttons.
The green one under the post says, “Never miss a post. Click for updates.” And the blue one says, “Behind the Scenes”. Both of these are designed to capture email addresses. The thank you pages and future emails will encourage them to connect through other social media channels like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
Melissa and Precious are in the process of building an audience and need a way to reach them, so they can get them coming back to the site again and again and so they can encourage their audience to spread the word by sharing with their friends.
The email signup has some unique functionality and you can check out the site to see how it works.
Blog Post: Navigation
In the old site, it was difficult to get any sense for the range of content that was available. It involved a lot of scrolling on the homepage until you reached some obscure navigation at the bottom.
In the new site there are several navigation items that always appear in a blue bar at the top of the screen to take people to the type of content they most enjoy: videos, podcasts or blog posts. And when they are on a category page the posts are nicely arranged for scanning eyes.
As well, every page, except the home page, has a clean navigation bar that opens to the right side of the page. The categories are listed near the top. But there’s also a clean tab system so that visitors can explore the site in a way that they want: By recent posts, popular posts, comments or a tag cloud.
Of course, the site is SEO optimized so that it shows up in Google search results. Google cannot read videos or audio files (podcasts) to understand the content, so besides the hidden SEO that you can’t see (i.e. metatags, authourship markup, etc.), I had the girls write a description for each video and podcast.
It’s difficult to convey the site’s functionality with these screenshots and you can get a better sense for how it all works by visiting the site:
- Your website and your email list should be key elements in your marketing strategy. It’s vitally important to get it right. Make an investment in these two areas.
- Make your site look good. It gives you instant credibility.
- Have a clear objective for your site. Decide what your most wanted response is on every page and structure the page to make that happen.
- Capture contact information. Work at getting emails and getting visitors signed up to any social media channels you use. You want to build an audience so you can drive people back to your site on demand and not wait around passively hoping someone finds it.
- Make use of video. The web is becoming increasingly visual. People expect a multimedia experience, so make sure they get it.
- Make it easy for the visitor to find the information they are looking for. Pay particular attention to the way someone navigates around the site. We live in a society of instant gratification. If they don’t get what they want right now they will leave. Wasting ten seconds of a visitors life is the eighth deadly sin.
I seldom do small web projects like this one, but if you have a large project or an interesting challenge you need help with feel free to drop me a note.
Did you like this before and after post? If so, check out my makeover of Laura Allen’s Educated Hearts website.