Today I am going to tell you about an extremely time sucking task that is probably all too familiar for anyone reading this post. You’ve either already had this happen to you, or you’re going to have it happen to you in the future, but as website owners it’s one of the inevitable things that we just can’t get away from.
The task? Undergoing the dreaded website redesign and figuring out a website redesign strategy.
Sure, we all love our websites and think that they are good the way that they are, but if you’re like me, nothing is ever good enough. As much as I loved the first iteration of my OneHourProfessor.com website, I felt strongly that there was something that I could do better.
I would look at my website and although I was content with it, my gut told me that I was missing out on making the most of my website traffic.
Boy am I glad that I followed my gut. After four months of an obscene amount of changes and revisions, I’m proud to officially announce that the OneHourProfessor.com website is completely redesigned and early analytics are showing that it is extremely successful.
In this blog post we will cover:
For anyone that knows me, they know that I am a huge advocate of using analytics to design websites. This made this website redesign especially difficult for me because there was really only so much data that I could gather from Google analytics to give me insight. The reason for that is because I decided to shift my business model and focus on making money on the internet as well as teaching internet marketing.
Because of this, a lot of the website redesign was subjective and based on things that I thought would do well. So starting off, let’s look at the overall data showing when the website redesign occurred.
You can see in the screenshot, there were a few days with zero visits to my website. This was actually a conscious decision that I made to take analytics off of my website in order to remember when the redesign actually occurred.
Let’s dive into the redesign a little deeper. The relaunch of the OneHourProfessor.com website was on August 31st of 2014.
There wasn’t necessarily a specific reason that I launched on this day. To be candid, I didn’t even tell a lot of individuals on my email list about it. I’m well aware that I should’ve made more of an effort to tell people about this, but limited time didn’t allow me to do so.
I feel like this strategy actually was beneficial to truly gauge how successful the new website redesign was. You see, if I would’ve invited every person on my email list to come look at the new website then it’s reasonable to assume that they would spent a lot of time clicking around which would have inflated my data for time spent on the website and pages viewed.
Because I didn’t have time to tell people about the redesign, my website essentially changed overnight and nobody was told about it. This means that all of the data to gauge the effectiveness of the website redesign is accurate.
So, what were the results of my redesign?
Well, there were some positives and some negatives. Let’s start with the negatives which are all the typical bi-product of a website redesign.
I’m not going to lie, this data hurt a little bit. I’m not necessarily surprised though because when a website redesign occurs there is usually a drop in traffic due to transitioning over SEO data. So, all things considered, a drop in page views of 7% and users by 28% wasn’t the worst thing in the world.
Now let’s talk about the positives.
If you ask me, the positives of this website redesign outweigh the negatives substantially.
Wow. Take a second to really look at those numbers and understand the impact that they have on my business. It’s great that the pages per session increased by 21%, that means that when people come to my website they are reading a lot more of my content.
It’s also great that the bounce rate decreased 6% which means that people are clicking through more often to other pages on my website when they arrive.
But the thing that really blew my mind was the average session duration. An increase of 93% means that people are almost spending double the amount of time that they were previously spending on my website.
This is obviously extremely beneficial for my brand, but I’m even happier to know that people are really reading the content that I spent hours creating. I’m sure one of the things that you are wondering right now is what is what I attribute to this increase in average session duration to. Let’s talk about that now.
Because the individual blog post page is so important and when you start a website it is likely the most visited web page, it’s definitely the page that I took the most time redesigning. Let’s take a second to look at what changed on the individual blog post page. Please note that this blog page is universal across all of my website posts as I was working with a template.
Above is a screenshot of my old website and below are four key changes I made to coincide with my website redesign strategy.
#1 Banner on the top: Although the banner at the top of the webpage did get clicks on my old website, I feel like it was a huge misstep on my part because I lead by telling people about a limited time offer.
I’m a big believer that in order for people to truly want to take action, you need to create value for them. This banner is the first thing that people saw when they came to the blog posts I had created and I hadn’t provided them with any value at all.
#2 Quote and image: My original thinking was that the quote and the image (there was an image where it says “Google Analytics Accuracy” in blue) would be attention grabbers for people coming to the website.
Now whether it was or not is up for debate, but obviously there is a lot of wasted space when you have an image and a quote at the top of a individual blog post. After evaluating, I decided it would be better to engage them in the blog post as opposed to trying to pull them in with imagery and a quote.
#3 The structure of the content: The structure and how I presented my content on my blog posts was definitely a mistake. People like to look at information in bits and pieces and it’s always a best practice to separate your content visually so that it’s easy for people to scan and read.
It isn’t very common for people to read every single word anymore, so making a page easily scannable and easy on the eyes is important for its success. Because of this, and as you can see in this post, I tend to write a sentence or two and then add a line of blank space in between.
#4 Right column navigation: The navigation on the right side of the blog was minimal and pretty much a “right out of the box” solution provided by WordPress. As you can see on the right side of this post, the new right column navigation is much more useful to the user.
I include a name badge that briefly explains who I am, a search bar so that people can quickly and easily get to the content that they want to find, I have all of the OHP social icons on display, the most popular blog posts that I have are listed, there are links to the free resources that I provide to my visitors, and finally the most recent post.
All of my analytic data shows that this column is one of the biggest contributors leading to a lower bounce rate, a longer average session duration, and more pages per session. The reason why is simple, with this new right column I give visitors the ability to find out about more of my website. In addition to that, people love to see what the most popular blog posts are (Such as my post about getting free website images) because those are likely the most useful ones that a website can provide to its visitors.
Although I still don’t have a lot of comments on my website, I know that there is one thing that was really holding me back. That one thing is using the default WordPress commenting system. You see, the WordPress commenting system isn’t very user-friendly and requires an individual to input alot of information just to submit a comment.
Because of this, I spoke with my developer and decided that the best solution was to implement the Disqus commenting system. You can see it at the bottom of this post and when you take a look, please test it out and let me know if you found this post helpful.
I chose Disqus because it’s very widely used across the Internet, it’s free to use on a small scale, and it easily integrates with social media. In my opinion, one of the best things about the Disqus commenting system is that it was built to allow people to log in to comment with their Facebook or Twitter accounts.
Oh, and one other great thing about the system, you don’t get nearly as much spam as you do with the WordPress commenting system.
For many websites, the contact page is extremely important because it can lead to additional revenue opportunities, consulting engagements, and it’s a place for visitors to leave their questions.
Do I really have to tell you what’s wrong with the old website contact us page?
I give absolutely no direction to the user, it’s ugly, and it’s extremely simplistic. The new contact page on the OneHourProfessor.com website includes an area for people to leave a voice message, as well as letting them know what the purpose of this website is, further projecting I want to help people.
One of the most important pages on my website that I’ve consistently gotten some amazing feedback about is the recommended resources page. In the old website, this page was only available to individuals that signed up to become members of my website. This is silly because the purpose of my website goal is to help people and I hid a bunch of the great resources that I know about because I was too focused on making people become members.
With the new design I decided to put this page right in the top navigation and I can already tell that it’s really valuable to my users because since the redesign it’s been the fourth most visited page on the website. By the way, if you’re wondering what my most visited recommend resource is, it’s Hostgator.
Another thing that I did on this page to make it easier for visitors to navigate is provide them with clickable links that will bring them to the desired areas of the page that they’d like to go to.
As an example, if somebody clicks on one of the blue links as shown in the image below then they are on the recommended resources page, they are able to go to that particular place on the page to learn more about resources that I recommend pertaining to that particular topic. This makes it much more user friendly.
A shout out to Pat Flynn over at the Smart Passive Income blog for this addition to my website. In listening to Pat’s podcast, one of the things that he said many of his visitors complained about is the fact that they had no idea where to get started on the website. Because of this, Pat explained how important it is to have a page where users can get started.
I took his advice to heart and created a page that explains how my website works, the reality about making money online, the first step to getting started, and a call to action offering my free Internet marketing course.
This start here page is now the 6th most visited page on my website, but the important thing to realize is that I have no links pointing directly to that page anywhere on my website except in the navigation. In other words, people come to my website and wonder exactly what they need to do when they arrive, so they click on that link.
The difference between the old about page and the new about page is night and day. The old about page was all about explaining the mission of the website and learning methodology around the courses that were being taught at OneHourProfessor.com. Can you tell I have most of my experience marketing B2B?
The new about page is all about me on a personal level, explaining why I started this website, and why I am confident that I can teach people how to make profitable online businesses. By making the about page much more personal, I am better able to connect with my website visitors and show them that I’m human too.
The new homepage is absolutely beautiful compared to what the old one was. On the new homepage I include multiple calls to action, a beautifully designed image when you first arrive, an explanation of why people should join the website, an invitation to the social networks of OneHourProfessor.com, and I highlight all of the video quick tips that are available.
In the old design I had some text, a call to action, and a video. In addition to that, there was an area for testimonials which I intend to bring back into the current homepage once I’ve gathered. But the problem with the old homepage was that I didn’t explain what the website was or why people should want to join.
(I had to draw in where the old elements were because it wasn’t archived appropriately.)
Your navigation is extremely important: This piece of advice probably isn’t surprising to anybody, but the navigation on your website is extremely important.
You need to make it so that visitors can quickly and easily access the important areas of your website, while also providing them with information that will be helpful for them, such as the recommended resources page and the start here page.
The homepage needs to be beautiful: I didn’t mention this above, but the homepage is the third most visited page on my website. The interesting thing though is that only 16% of people enter on that page. In other words, even though it’s a popular page on my website, it isn’t usually the first page that visitors see.
Instead they come in through another area of the website and then they click on the “home” area of the navigation to see more about what the website is all about. This page is going to leave a lasting impressions on your website visitors.
If you have a homepage it is poorly designed and doesn’t have the appropriate calls to action, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to capitalize on one of the most visited pages.
Responsive design is the only design: The biggest change that occurred for my website is that everything is now responsive. For those who don’t know, responsive design means that my website is now much easier to look at on mobile devices.
If someone visited my old website on a mobile device, they would have to pinch and zoom-in just to read any of the text. Now, the website is mobile optimized and allows the user to get a similar experience as they would on desktop. This is so important because 15% of my website traffic is from mobile devices and I’m willing to bet that this amount will increase over time.
So there you have it, the website redesign strategy of OneHourProfessor.com. Unfortunately I wasn’t tracking how many hours I spent on this redesign, but I would venture to say that it was somewhere between 30 to 50 hours reviewing the structure and content of all the pages. I hope you appreciate the look of the new website and can appreciate how much work went into it.
Now it’s your turn, have you ever done a website redesign? How did it go? Tell us in the comments below or jump over to the OHP Facebook page to start a conversation.