Web Design Case Study

Web Design Case Study: BWMG

I wanted to bring you a little case study on web design, function and online activity. I believe this example will hold many insights for you to learn from and gain perhaps some inspiration from.

The case study I’m bringing you is that of Brownie’s Marine Group. The business is that of a surface supplied air diving system manufacturer located in Fort Lauderdale.

When I commenced helping Brownie’s with their website and other online marketing activities, their website was built on a Joomla platform and looked somewhat like this:

 Case Study of Webdesign

The above image is taken from a screenshot using the WayBack Machine, so in truth the site did have a banner up atop where the logo is and that did make it look a bit more pretty. Likewise as you can see there are two images in the mid content area that do not show on this image, whereas they would have on the website back then.

There are a number of things that I wish to comment on.

First, allow me to express that I do not wish to belittle of negatively criticize anyone’s work. Negative criticism is not what this is about, but if we can look at a few design options and question the choices so that we may create better designs and not least functionality then all the better.

So let’s just dive straight in, shall we?

The first thing I noticed even back then and I questioned for myself, was the choice of background color. As you can see it is a form of Marron or Red color. Let me note that the company doesn’t really make use of red color as a means of identification. Yes, they do have a red color as part of their logo (a brighter red as you can see). Possibly that red stems from the association with dive flags or perhaps more likely, it just makes a striking pose. The background color, however, does NOT make a striking pose, if you ask me and naturally, this is a case of personal preferences, but I am certain that you see my point.

That said. If the color is not specifically related to the business or the company, then I wouldn’t choose it. The color in this case is in addition not very related to the activities of the business either. As mentioned the company manufactures diving equipment, so a more naturally choice of color scheme or color palette might have been something related to blue such as in the blue of blue oceans or blue waters. Yes, this might have been deemed too typical, too obvious or something of that nature, but yet, that would have made sense and I do believe the associations would not have hurt the performance of the presentation.

 

The next point that I wish to draw your attention to is back to pure functionality. This particular company offers a lot of solutions and a lot of products and services and it can sometimes be a challenge to map it out in a natural way and in a fashion that makes for easy and intuitive navigation.

If you look closely, you will note that there are actually two navigation menus.

I don’t really advice for multiple navigation menus. I believe they cause confusion and that people get lost in where to go from here.

Somewhat related to this point, is my third observation, which has to do with too many choices. To me, there’s just too much going on on this website. Too many places I can go and too much chaos that I’m lost before I even begin to make myself a better impression about what this is all about.

There are many more things, that I never really liked about the site, but I think these three are about some of the major ones and they serve well as examples of considerations you too will have to make, when you have your website done.

I should perhaps make a brief pause here and admit that I will often make use of relative extensive footer areas that holds lots of links that can whisk visitors off to tangents. If you offer few very specific services or products, you may be much better off limiting your options to a bare minimum and rather arrive at a call to action sooner. When people are getting lost in too much stuff, they’ll usually not buy. In marketing we have a saying that goes like this: The confused mind will not buy.

So in truth, I do not entire follow my own advice and my craziest example would be that of my personal ego-website at http://www.mikkelpitzner.com that probably holds the worlds largest footer (at least at time of writing this).

 

Towards the end of 2012, the Joomla platform and this particular website encountered certain security risks. There would be somewhat substantial work involved in fixing the security issues and in truth I pressured and convinced the company that we should migrate it to the WordPress platform. And so done. We opened up for the new website some time in January of 2013 and it looked then much as it still does at this present moment of writing this post:

 

Web Design Case Study

I think there are a number of things to make a note of.

First, not how I did away with the maroon colored background. I also limited the navigation to one, although it had to stretch two lines instead of what I would usually prefer; one line.

I also went for a more minimal design, that makes use of larger images and an altogether cleaner look. Naturally, I also chose to go with a true mobile responsive theme that converts nicely to the device on which you are looking at the site. Mobile phones, iPads and other tablets, laptops and desktops – the site performs nicely and is easily navigated and read. The former website was not a mobile friendly site and would have lost 60-80% of traffic this year if not fixed. See our previous series on mobile sites to learn of the importance of this.

You may also notice the text saying Learn More About Diving Made Easy, which is actually the opt in form or the sign up for our newsletter link. This link is repeated throughout all pages on the website and actually captures a number of visitors on an ongoing basis. It’s funny to  note, that for long the text actually read: We Wanted You To Know.. and that that text seems to have captured a lot more visitors to be added to the list of leads.

The company didn’t like that text, however, so we changed it. But this is a perfect example of choices that some business owners or operators may go for that are not well rooted in empirical results. The text should probably be reverted back or one should test out other text options.

In fact, you should on an ongoing basis test out options and wordings.

 

Critiques that I have been able to pick up from visitors and even company investors, confirmed a happiness and preference for the new site. In fairness, however, I should state that the new site has not performed well, in regards to actual online sales. I believe the predominant factor for this is that the links to the BUY NOW are actually black and thus probably do not provoke an action online, but rather lead buyers to inquire via email or phone. I believe, it should be tested out to get a more conventional and typically seen YELLOW Buy Now button and I’m sure if that was implemented, it would soon result in major improvements.

 

 Moving on, I wish to change gear a little.

Below, you will see a long image of the website traffic from the site over the years. I have also made a few marks to some interesting events, including the time of introducing a blog to the site (was first introduced on the previous site and then carried over with the new website), the time of new website being introduced and then finally, the point in time when I stopped my activities upholding the website and more. It may be noted that there were very little (almost none) paid advertising throughout the period of time these traffic numbers encompass.

Traffic Case Study of Web DesignI think the traffic numbers tell several interesting stories.

For one, I think you can see a good effect of the blog being introduced. First off, a blog adds new material to the site. It gives a purpose to people to come back again to revisit and learn what’s new. You may notice a decline of number of pages viewed, but part of why this is, is the fact that I consolidated a lot of pages of the former site into fewer and more concentrated pages of the new site. Yes, you may see that as hurting the site statistics, but I see it as improving drastically the experience for the user.

You may also note there’s a bit of seasonality for the traffic to the site. this sis natural as it follows the seasonality of the business. In this particular case, seeing that we are talking about diving equipment, it follows the season of the weather that best allows for good diving.

Notice the improved traffic from first when blog is introduced and subsequently from when the new website is introduced. Also notice what happens when your activity suddenly ends.

I think, there are some valuable lesson here for you to take away. I hope you have enjoyed the article and love to hear from you.

I will leave you with a screenshot of the blog entry from when the new website was launched:

Web Design Study - read the full story on http://www.amazingideasinc.com

Free awesome Marketing Book

Free Book Give Away

If you saw our Press Release from today, you would see that we have decided to give away the book “Mikkel Pitzner’s Trade Secrets To Marketing Your Business Online”.

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The book has already helped a lot of businesses and professionals an contains tips, tricks and insights, that we use in Amazing Ideas, Inc. and in our work for our clients on a daily basis.

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Please feel free to share this give away offer with others that you think it may benefit.

 

 

The importance of choosing the words that make up your URL

Choosing Your Domain

Choosing Your Domain

Continuing our series on creating The Perfect Website, we are moving forward and are coming to three further considerations you will need to make decisions on: Choosing your domain (name), which platform to make use of and where to host your website. In this post we will look at the importance of choosing your domain.

The domain name. It’s the URL – the ‘what comes after the www.’

This instantly leads to the question of having your own domain or using the domains of publicly accessible hosters like WordPress.com or something similar.

In my view there’s no doubt about that you want to have your OWN domain. No doubt and it doesn’t matter really what your website will be about.

By having your own domain you are ultimately in complete (or close to it) control of what you can do with it.

Also by having your own domain you can possibly get a unique or well descriptive name of your choice. I say possibly for it seems often difficult to get the domain names you want, because someone as smart of you already thought of the same domain name and now has it (let alone all the domains that seem to be purchased just for the sake of selling them back at a hefty premium).

If you were to host on WordPress.com, you might be able to get a name like (using us an example) www.amazingideasinc.wordpress.com but this is not as good as www.amazingideasinc.com is it?

Not only does a URL become even longer than might otherwise be the case, but you also typically run into limitations as to what you can do on your domain. There might be a cool solution with what’s called a plugin that you may not be allowed to use on a domain like WordPress.com or similar.

I also feel like it’s somewhat unprofessional to host anywhere else but on your own domain. In addition to getting your own domain, you also get the ability to establish email accounts with your own domain too.

Just like we have info@amazingideasinc.com – it just looks better than a amazingideasinc@hotmail.com or something along those lines. It makes you look more established and more like a real place of business. In other words it may even help you look more legitimate and trustworthy.

My views are not to mock these sites where you can get free hosting like WordPress.com and similar, for in fact I think it’s awesome that they even make it available and they are in fact very good sites and platforms. So if you absolutely didn’t have any money to make good for, then a website on such a platform would probably help you along fine and better than no website at all.

But in truth, having your own domain is a very small investment (a URl is typically less than $12 a year at time of writing this and sometimes you may even find better offers than that). A hosting can be anywhere from about $4 to $20 a month for decent and reliable service providers and then of course the price can go up depending on what more demands you might place with them or as you grow your needs.

OK, so so far, get your own domain!

Like I said, getting your own domain can be a challenge in terms of getting the URL you would really want. But play around with it and you may find something that is very useful and that makes sense for your website and your business.

I would have liked a more generic www.amazingideas.com rather than a www.amazingideasinc.com, but www.amazingideas.com was taken (actually at this point in time it looks like one of those domains that are just parked waiting to be sold at a premium, and quite frankly, it doesn’t mean enough for me to buy it at a premium – some are within a decent budget, while others are extremely expensive).

But if say your business has a very unique name, perhaps even one, that doesn’t mean anything, but just has a cool sound, you may be in luck that it’s available for you.

You may, however wish to look for something that’s descriptive of what it is you are selling. Taking this a step further and you could add your location too.

I’m currently based and located in Castle Rock, CO, so if I was a plumber, I might want to see if www.castlerockplumbing.com or www.castlerockplumber.com would be available or something to that effect.

If you can get a domain name that is descriptive for what it is that you are selling, it could even help you get a decent search engine ranking too, just because your domain name would fit with the search terms used. Search engines such as Google give high ranking for a domain with plumbing in its name when someone is searching for something that includes the word “plumbing”.

In addition, by including your local geographics into the domain name and you may achieve an increasingly good ranking for local searches for your area of profession. Going back to the example of www.castlerockplumbing.com and you are even likely to get a page 1 on Google’s search results, when someone types in the words ‘Castle Rock Plumbing’.

You might even get the number one spot on page one for such a search with such a domain name. Presumably this is due to the fact that Google gives high ranking for domain names that include the words people are searching for, and my take on that is, that Google expects that someone who has the domain www.casterockplumbing.com must be an authoritative figure for plumbing in Castle Rock. Makes sense too, doesn’t it?

If you followed our series that we called Marketing Castle Rock, in which we looked at how we could obtain a very high ranking with Google’s search search results for the words of ‘Marketing Castle Rock’. Before we began that series we had done absolutely no work in order for us to be ranked for these words and that also showed in the search results. In fact, you would have to dive into the search results and go all the way back to page 21 to find any mentioning of us.

Well, we did some work and it really helped. In one day, we managed to actually get page 1 listing. This particular listing was our Google Places spot and this is indeed a listing that can be extremely powerful. If you do not already have a spot here, you definitely will want to explore getting that. If you need help getting that, it would be our pleasure and honor to help you accomplish it. You may, however, wish to revisit the Marketing Castle Rock series to learn why you cannot obtain your Google Places results in one day unless you already have registered your business with Google though.

However, I was aiming to get a spot that would be our website, so either our website in general or a link towards an article that is on our website and well, that proved more tricky.

While we have not exhausted our options and possibilities yet, it took a few days to get us to page 2 of the results and we still invariably hold a position there. Invariably, for these things change all the time depending on your own activities and those of the ones who end up competing for the spots (knowingly or not).

In the series you would know also, that I mentioned the absolute first spot was occupied by a company that actually seems to auction cattle. Not very relevant really in comparison to our Marketing Agency and our efforts to be ranked for possibilities of such under Castle Rock, but seeing that this cattle auction business actually call themselves Castle Rock Marketing then we end up competing with them. More importantly and especially in terms of this post here, their website is www.castlerockmarketing.com

Google search results are the outcomes of an algorithm and while we can only guess at what goes into the decision makings of this algorithm, it seems apparent and seems to be agreed upon in general, that Google (and other search engines) like updated and relevant content and thus that websites that provide this will be favored.

Well, the cattle auctioning website seems to be producing very little of this and also seems to have little if any activity. Yet it ranks on the number one spot. Why?

Because, the keywords I’m aiming at actually make up its URL. In other words the relative importance of your keywords being part of your URL is emphasized and illustrated well by this example.

 

In other words, you may wish to see if you can find a domain that could fit into such criteria for your business. Having a cool website is awesome, but if no one finds it, it does little good for you or your business.

I hope that this post has given you food for thought on how you should choose your domain and the importance of said domain name for your chances of getting a good ranking that will help your business get found online.

Please let us hear about your success in your efforts and let us know how it goes for you. as I said, it can seem very difficult to obtain the domain you most want, but often with a little ingenuity and playing around with words, you can get something that will serve your business really well. Good luck in your hunt for your perfect domain.

In the next post we will look at which technical platform to use for your website. Don’t worry, I won’t go into too many technicalities in that post, but merely end at a conclusion of what I would suggest for you and state why those would be my suggestions. I hope to see you again when that post comes up later today or tomorrow (I suspect) and I encourage you to sign up for following along this series on The Perfect Website, by signing up using the box below.