Even though I have developed hundreds of blogs and websites, I still struggle with redesigning my own site. Pushing Social is my baby and it’s tough to be objective.
So this time around I relied heavily on a team of designers to help me reimagine how we deliver our message.
I also started the process by compiling a list of 7 insights I’ve learned from designing client sites and applied them to redesigning Pushing Social. These insights were the litmus test for every design decision.
Here they are:
1) “Blogging” Can Undermine Your Authority
Pushing Social provides content marketing strategy to the leadership teams of very smart organizations. These folks pride themselves on being the smartest people in the room and learning from qualified sources.
Although us social media types love blogging, blog posts aren’t considered a valuable source of authoritative information by C-Level leaders.
That’s why we decided to remove the label “blog” where it makes sense. Our goal is to deliver magazine-quality articles that deliver insights in the same plainspoken way you’ve come to expect. I love blogging but I’m not a blogger. I’m a marketing strategist, coach, and writer. The distinction is important and you’ll see how it plays out over the next year.
2) Less is More
We love call-to-actions. As you may have noticed, we give you every opportunity to join our list and receive a variety of tools and resources. But, I have to admit that we went a bit overboard with the popups, scrollbars, and other optin tools.
The new site has pulled back on the in-your-face popups in favor of offers that are specifically relevant to the content you are reading.
For example we offer a vlogging checklist with our post on how to start using video as a blogging platform. This type of call-to-action has consistently outperformed popups.
We are not abandoning popups because they work too well. But we will be configuring them to display in specific situations while being less distracting to readers.
3) Mobile Responsiveness is Non-Negotiable
Nearly 50% of our visitors view Pushing Social on a phone or tablet device. The new design is fully mobile responsive and looks great on small and large screens.
We also tested podcast and video players for mobile responsiveness since normal blog text isn’t the only content we offer. We learned that many theme designers plan for blog text and photos but neglect video and audio content.
4) Experiences versus Pages
Our goal was to completely reimagine the structure of Pushing Social.[aesop_image img=”http://pushingsocial.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/7_Insights_to_Consider_When_Redesigning_Your_Blog_-_Pushing_Social.png” offset=”-100″ align=”right” lightbox=”off” captionposition=”left”]
We looked at everything with the question: “How can we create something new for our reader?” This perspective led us to thinking of site pages as experiences. In our design wireframes we say each link as a doorway to a new way to use our content.
We will continue to build out the content available in each of these areas including adding a way for visitors to quickly browse visual content like infographics, illustrations and animations.
5) Jordache Jeans and Theme Selection
Remember the golden years of Jordache Jeans? Every girl I knew had to sport a pair with pegged legs of course. In the early 80s Jordache was everywhere. Today, Jordache has lost its appeal. WordPress blog themes work the same way.[aesop_image img=”http://pushingsocial.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/jordache_vintage.jpg” offset=”-100px” align=”right” lightbox=”off” captionposition=”left”]
Today, big photos and animated sliders are the must-haves. In six months it may be designs that resemble mobile phone screens using Google’s Material Design standards or something else we haven’t seen yet. We decided to not use popular theme bells and whistles because they would make the site look dated when the fad passes.
I asked my team to select a simple design that can grow with our needs while have an understated simplicity and professionalism. I believe they hit the mark.
6) Visuals Are More Important Than Ever
Human beings are visual creatures. It’s amazing how photos can immediately set the tone in any situation. I’ve been designing websites for clients for 18 years and it has never been as easy to use photographs and graphics as it is today. Every premium WordPress theme can display a range of visual content with point-and-click simplicity. Sites that use graphics intelligently look modern and smart.
We’ve always used great imagery on Pushing Social.
We will be elevating visuals to the next level in the year ahead. Our design puts photos front and center while giving us dozens of ways to feature them throughout the site and in articles. This is the most exciting feature of the website and I can’t wait to explore how we can blow your mind with visual content over the next 12 months.
7) Contextual Social Sharing
Over the last year or so, I’ve watched the impact of social sharing decline. We still get a fair amount of traffic from social networks but these visitors often come from new people sharing a link and not our existing Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn audiences. Also, we’ve seen the effectiveness of “Follow Me On…” social appeals drop to zero.
People are happy to share but they aren’t that excited about following another stream of updates to their already overcrowded activity streams and newsfeed. Frankly, we would rather readers to sign-up for email notifications where we can build a more valuable relationship.
So we still have social share icons but they are only shown with blog articles instead of being sprinkled throughout the site.
Smarter, Stronger, Faster
My new insights-driven approach allowed me to quickly make smart decisions that built on thousands of redesign hour experience. Everything on Pushing Social is carefully considered and serves a purpose.
Also, having a clear blueprint for what the site should do allowed us to strip our plugins down to a small list of essential tools. This has made the site faster and hopefully more Google friendly.
I’ve started using the insights-driven approach to help our clients clarify their 3Ws “Why, Who, What” and build a strategically aligned experience for their readers.
We’ll be talking more about this in the future so I’m curious about your thoughts about these 7 insights. Share what you think on this post’s page on Google+.