While most companies have a web presence, many tend to underestimate its importance. Soon, they end up with an incredibly outdated one that fails to communicate effectively the company’s message to its prospects. Just as fashion and house trends constantly change and evolve, so do websites and the needs of their audiences. An outdated website will fail to satisfy it’s audience resulting in a loss of visitors and hence clients. Why? Because customers trust websites that are cared for and not those that seem to have been left unattended for a long time. A company’s digital presence reflects its outlook to the outside world and thus mirrors its philosophy and behaviour. Ultimately, a well-kept website reflects a company that respects and cares for its customers.
Most successful brands have a well researched website that effectively answers the potential questions and needs of their customers. These are the companies that have fully grasped the importance of using best practices such as concise and trustworthy messaging, simple navigation and a user-friendly layout. Generally, organisations that follow these guidelines tend to have increased conversion rates, high engagement rates and a more loyal customer base than their competition.
FORTHcrs was established in 2000, combining the know-how of the ferry industry and the business insight of FORTHNET SA. The company has always focused on serving the ferry industry by providing high-end reservation systems and developing a wide sales network.
Powerful changes are motivated by powerful reasons. The more powerful the reason, the more irresistible the change.
When at Publisto we were asked to revamp their digital presence, we first sifted through user complaints to identify its main areas of weakness. We then assigned memorable names to the biggest problems:
- Unwieldy navigation
- Fragmented UI
- Non-Responsive website
- Outdated design
We repeated the names and examples of these problems everywhere — in design presentations, in product reviews, etc. By doing this, we were able to fully grasp the biggest problems that plagued the specific platform.
Once everyone understood the challenge, it was time to rally people around a common vision that would result in an updated digital presence for the company tailored to the needs of its audiences. So for each of the above problems, we coined a corresponding solution:
- Simplified navigation
- Unified UI
- Responsive website
- Fresh design
The above solutions became the mantra for success. This article won’t go into all the iterations we explored, but it’s worth mentioning that setting these goals kept our team focused on the things that the users cared most about. Many user testing sessions later, we felt confident we had a design that performed a lot better than before.
At Publisto, we have been building projects with Facebook’s React.js for half a year. The reason why we’ve chosen this language is that React’s only responsibility is to build composable and reactive user interfaces. The very power of this tool is in its simplicity.
The adoption of React for this project led to some extremely positive outcomes. Firstly and the most importantly, we shipped our front-end significantly faster. We could write really complex UI components and easily combine them with each other. Secondly, as the app grew, we improved our code maintainability. Spending less time on code maintenance means more time spent on delivering business value for our customers.
Although, SPAs (Single-Page Applications) improve the website’s performance to a considerable extent, there are certain inherent issues in this type of setup when it comes to SEO such as:
- Lack of dynamic SEO tags
However, we used additional tools to improve the SEO of our React-based website, such as React Router. React Router is a tool that is used to create routes between different components or pages. That way it is possible to build a website with a Search Engine friendly URL structure.
For this reason, some preparatory work needed to be carried out before the new site went live. Benchmarking was essential and needed to be as extensive as possible and cover as much as possible:
- Keyword rankings
- User behaviour
- Traffic levels
- Site performance
We used the outcomes of our research to adjust and enrich the following areas: platform content, CTAs, AdSense visuals and filtering, Footer format, contact forms and so on. Consequently, text was added to all the platform’s pages, the banner images became interchangeable featuring various locations, a contact form was added in the contact page and the footer became more interactive. Similarly, the events page was enriched featuring a wider selection of activities with colourful banners to entice users to click and have a more sound user experience. After several modifications, metrics in Sessions and New Sessions, Users and New Users, Pages/Session, Average Time on Page, Unique Page Views and Bounce Rate increased.
Without the insights provided by data it would have been difficult if not impossible to measure the success of the new site and to use it to develop the app that followed.
Launching a new website is daunting. For Publisto, it meant investing time and resources. Well defined goals, thorough preparation and research led to our project’s success. One always needs to remember that a website is a living marketing asset. As such it always grows and changes. If developed thoughtfully, it can evolve alongside your company and contribute to its success.