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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Wear-Dated Website Redesign: Case Study

Wear-Dated websiteOn June 1, 2008, we launched the redesigned, social-media friendly and dynamic Wear-Dated website. This case study explores the steps taken.

Our previous website hadn't been updated in three years. Because it was primarily flash based, we could neither update content nor our retailer database without expending significant resources. Furthermore, navigation was difficult and unintuitive; using the website to support activities in the marketplace wasn't possible; and the site had little organic visibility, depending heavily on PPC [Pay Per Click] campaigns.

We needed to update the website to reflect our new By The Foot marketing campaign and direct consumers to retailers selling carpet made with Wear-Dated carpet fiber.

The original website redesign concept consisted of updating the look/feel of the site and address the critical issues preventing timely retailer database updates. However, was more possible?

In January 2007, I attended Future Now's Online Copywriting seminar led by Holly Buchanan [during which I met Bryan Eisenberg, co-author of Waiting for Your Cat to Bark?: Persuading Customers When They Ignore Marketing]. The session included a review of our existing website which had me considering how to improve on it and make it more visitor friendly in tone, content and navigation. It also had me appreciating how a social media platform would improve organic search results. I realized that our brand would benefit from a different digital strategy than the one we were considering.

Based on that website review, I further analyzed our site, proposing a more dynamic website approach for the redesign, and volunteered to be part of the website redesign team. I envisioned a site more consumer friendly in its tone and approach, with content that truly demystified and simplified the carpet purchase process, an administrative interface that allowed frequent updates of content and data, and a blog platform for dynamic content about our brand, new carpet products and carpet retailer-specific consumer promotions.

The goal was a website that engaged consumers searching for carpet related information and connected them to Wear-Dated carpet styles available at specific carpet retailers that they could then purchase. The website should also offer robust carpet care content and resources.

Working with Integrity Corporation, our web developer, I shaped the new website vision, transforming the original static website brochure concept into a social media friendly, content rich, frequently updated, user administered, Google friendly site that educated consumers about carpet and connected them with product and retailers:
  • Registered visitors could both review and rank products and retailers, offering consumers more value. They would also receive our Newsletter with additional links and resources relevant to carpet.
  • Website content was written in consumer friendly and relevant language.
  • Robust search functionality supported the entire site.
  • Google maps functionality enhanced retailer information.
  • Visitors could easily share content.
Furthermore, we supported retailer promotional activities by featuring their carpet sales events in our Newsroom with appropriate keywords and tags, and carpet mills by featuring specific carpet styles made with Wear-Dated carpet fiber on the home page and search page on a rotating basis. We could also offer coupons and run contests.

The new website ranked high organically on specific search terms within a short period of launching, despite spending no marketing or advertising dollars to promote the site. More specifically, an August 2008 review of 2 months worth of data revealed improvements as follows over the old Wear-Dated website:

Google old site SERP
Google new site SERP
nylon carpet

nylon 6,6 carpet

nylon carpet fiber
#2 Feb 2009
buying carpet
#10 Feb 2009
branded carpet

carpet styles

Yahoo old site SERP
Yahoo new site SERP

nylon carpet

nylon 6,6 carpet

nylon carpet fiber

buying carpet

branded carpet

carpet styles

SERP = search engine ranking position
100* = listing was found, beyond 100

The new website was self-administered and we quickly realized significant savings by not having to rely on an IT department to upload changes and updates. We also discovered that the turnaround on updates was instantaneous, significantly improving content freshness and enabling us to quickly react to the kind of SERP results obtained above.

Interestingly, our dynamic website concept led us to build the site on a DotNetNuke platform with flexible modules rather than building a static rigid framework from scratch. For a comparable cost, we obtained far more flexibility of design and administration, with a strong social media friendly framework with a bloglike newsroom, that better enabled us to promote carpet mill products and carpet retailers and provide generally offer more value to all within our community. Here is the Sell Sheet developed for the Wear-Dated website.

Finally, we were able to make the Wear-Dated brand more visible and relevant to consumers learning about carpet, shopping for carpet or wanting to know more about caring for their carpet.

Further Reading:
A Wear-Dated Website Conversation With Integrity's John Simanowitz: Part I described what makes the new website different from the previous one, and why those differences matter.

A Wear-Dated Website Conversation With John Simanowitz - Part 2: Part II focuses on the social web, the benefit it represents for corporations and the importance of online social functionality.

From The Carpetology Blog:

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