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In the short history of Squarely Digital, I have been struck by the number of business owners I have met who all report the same set of problems with their website:
They know their site could look better.
They would love to make basic changes to the site's content on their own, but they don't know how.
Mistakes and/or omissions in the "plumbing" of their site are hurting them in SEO (most don't realize it, but when they request a free checkup, I spot it quickly).
They know they could get more business by fixing these issues and harnessing the power of the web (not to mention mobile). But they don't know where to start, let alone have the time or inclination to do it themselves.
Harold Berger of Kenilworth Car Wash was a good example. When we first talked earlier this year, he said he felt his business could find more customers on the internet, but he wasn't even able to change the hours of operation displayed on his homepage.
Harold hired me to redesign his website, add mobile functionality and move it to a new, easy-to-use platform. With plenty of help (a design contest run on 99designs.com, photos shot by my former Washington Post colleague Preston Keres and more), we took this website:
and turned it into this:
(You can click on the images to visit the sites and check them out, although some elements of the old site have dropped out -- you'll be looking at an archived version via the Internet Wayback Machine.)
The new site launched on July 24 and is hosted on Squarespace (as is squarelydigital.com). I have found Squarespace to be a relatively simple, attractive and inexpensive option for building basic sites -- and the sites are responsive by default, meaning they look great on mobile.
Shortly after launch, I visited Harold at the car wash to give him a tutorial on updating and adding to the site. And we continue to tweak the site as part of my work running Google AdWords campaigns for Kenilworth Car Wash.
Has it worked? In some ways, it's still too early to say. But based on traffic to kenilworthcarwash.com and user behavior when there, I think these numbers say a lot:
Page Views: +243%
Pages Viewed Per Visit: +56%
Average Duration of Visit: +136%
Those are the stats comparing site performance from July 24 to September 25, 2012, to the same two-month period this year. They do not include paid search traffic, which has also increased dramatically. But since part of the paid search traffic increase can be attributed to the new AdWords campaigns we started in August -- the results of which might well be fodder for a blog post in the future -- I excluded it for this comparison.
PS -- I would be remiss if I didn't thank a few friends who provided invaluable advice during this project: Ross Feldman of Metalake, Clay Asbury of TwelveTwo.net, and Bryant Hill of Bryant Hill Media. Besides being generous with their counsel, all three do great work on the web.