To create a modern, mobile-friendly website that provided a more engaging experience for website users, that was easy for them to navigate and that was a breeze for the client to update. The website also needed to be a greater source of revenue, through advertising and donations, so that Rural Intelligence could continue to thrive.
- Completed a comprehensive redesign of the website and built the new site using Tunnel 7's custom configuration of ExpressionEngine.
- Created a survey to better understand the client's users and what they wanted to see on the website. Their readership is very loyal and had very specific ideas about what they wanted, which greatly informed our work.
- We fundamentally changed how users navigate the website, making it easier for them to see a brief listing of multiple articles, choose which they want to navigate to, and bookmark and share them. We also created clear calls to action to encourage advertising and donations, including adding a support widget built into every article to encourage readers to support Rural Intelligence.
- Built an entirely new content model which organizes site content in a much smarter way by creating seperate fields for titles, meta data, article photos and other information. This makes content entry much simpler for the client and removes the design limitations on the old site of having all of the content in one jumbled content field. We also developed complex relationships between content to link authors with related articles, towns, events, etc.
- Cleaned up the old content layouts, including the ads everywhere approach on the old website. Ads are now in well-thought-out locations and are less of a burden to the content.
- Designed and implemented a new full-width slideshow to showcase photos for each article. These translate much better on mobile than the small thumbnail-style images that were used previously.
- Added a dedicated Events channel (something that users said they wanted) to the website. Events can now be added to the homepage or related to individual articles. Each event now has its own event page as well, which makes it easier to share and bookmark.
- Added a new Alert feature so that the client can now highlight breaking news on the top of every page.
- Built an ad server into ExpressionEngine so that the client can upload ads as needed and select which section of the website they should show in. This allows them to maximize revenue for the new site, as opposed to relying on something like Google Display Ads which pay very little per click.
- Identified and fixed issues with the old website's server (it had been filled with 10 years' worth of unneeded data). We cleaned this up and the client is now saving over $150 / month in hosting costs.
- Reduced the number of templates in use on the new website to 20 (the old website had hundreds). This makes any required code changes much simpler to make.
- Successfully changed course mid-project to accomodate changing project requirements which involved migrating 10 years' worth of archives from the old server. This proved challenging because the new content model was already in place and it required that we refactor the model to both accept the old content, while not affecting the new content. It was programmatically challenging, but we accomplished it.
- Coordinated with the client's app team to migrate their app database to a new server.
- Connected website mailing list signups with the client's existing MailChimp account and developed a strategy with them to manage signups in their workflow.
- Provided multiple trainings on content entry and made recommendations to improve the quality of articles and photographs.
- Conducted a content audit a few days before going live with the new website to make suggestions around content entry and other smaller items.
- Set up goals in Google Analtyics to accurately track key actions (donations, mailing list signups and traffic to key pages). While goals had been set up previously in their Analytics account, they weren't tracking correctly.
A modern, mobile-friendly website that is already producing results. In the first weekend alone, the client received 11 email signups, more than they had in months. Website visits were up 6%, pageviews were up 48% and the average time per visit was up 40%.