3 Factors that Tell Me It’s Time for a Redesign

Shhh…..Top Secret!!!

Killer Book Marketing

The site as of Feb 2014

I’m sure you’ve noticed I haven’t been blogging nearly as much as I usually do. Of course we’re ramping up for a couple major book launch events for some Jess Michaels books(my wife!), but the real top secret news is that I’m working on a major redesign of this site!

What’s wrong with the site as is?

Authors can’t find what they’re looking for

The people that come to my site tend to be authors or writers looking for book marketing tips.  Perhaps they want to know how to build an audience on Twitter or pick up some tips on formatting their book for CreateSpace. Whatever the case, the one thing that’s obvious is that it isn’t easy to find (or see) the posts that could help them.

In many ways, this is a problem with the blog format.  Since I started the blog 9 months ago, I have well over 100 posts.  If you’re using WordPress, you know it just creates them in order and the blog shows posts in either the order you created them or the most recent items first.

I fell like the best way to help is to have a very real index page that shows the major groupings of information that authors are looking to find.  I need to have a design that makes it super easy for authors to find the posts they need.

The first page of my site is a big problem – with a handful of links, it doesn’t give a good starting point for authors.  To be direct, I’ve never liked the front page, but the bigger issue is page load time.

What is Page Load Time?

We live in an Internet-connected age.  Whether it’s cell phones, tablets, or PCs, they are all connected to the Intenet.  When someone comes to see your page, if it takes too long to load – they click on the next thing and may never come back to your site.

Page load time comes from:

  • How fast the server responds – this is where a good host comes in.  If you are starting to get a lot of traffic…you may even need to consider upgrading hosting packages.
  • How fast the page renders on the client computer. This is based on Internet connection speed, How fast the computer is, computer memory, how many programs are open on a clients computer, etc.

To make improvements, a site can serve fewer pages/requests, smaller files, and more efficient coding to be served faster by your server and load faster on a client computer.

Almost a third of my traffic is on mobile devices – and the general statistic is that if a mobile page takes more than 5 seconds to load – more than 70% of that traffic is LOST completely.  I don’t believe my site is quite that bad, but it needs some additional tweaking.

Aside from mobile issues, my site is taking almost 2 seconds to fully on a PC or Mac. That is… with a good internet connection on a fast computer.  Not everyone has a fast computer or great Internet connection – so the bottom line is that page load time needs to be improved.

The Problem with my WordPress Theme

There are actually several things that can be done to speed up page loading times for WordPress.  One of the biggest is using a page caching plug-in like W3 Total Cache which can consolidate CSS and JavaScript files, plus cache pages to improve load times.  I’ve had a few problems with caching my site and periodically it breaks the entire site!?! which has led me to disable it more than once.

I don’t want to get too technical, but my theme also uses nested tables (which slows down rendering). Ultimately, no matter what I do, this is a limitation that will ALWAYS slow down my site unless I change to a theme that will load faster.

Clean and Crisp

If you haven’t already guessed, I believe that a handful of choices are better than an entire kitchen sink.  When there is a bunch of random stuff, no ne knows where to click or what’s available.  I’ve decided to consolidate into a cleaner design that is better organized and a bit easier to find information.  It has to be:

  • Easy to find things
  • Fast loading
  • more efficient coding
  • A clean, professional design

At this point, I’ve been evaluating a few different templates.  I will likely purchase a new template from Themeforest. Before I get that far and make a purchase, I’m testing page speed.  If anyone is interested, please let me know and I can make a video on how to check the overall speed of your website.

As a side note, I’m also moving up my hosting package to a Virtual Private Server on Dreamhost to help meet the increased traffic demand.

Posted in Techniques to Market This Site.

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  1. Pingback: Still working on the redesign! » Killer Book Marketing

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