We Are Going To Keep Changing Until We Get This Right

Last August we revealed a new website design that I absolutely love and have been thrilled with. A single webpage layout with all the info necessary on that page and easy to find. It was the second layout for Mark Dalton Media after launching at the start of last March.

The assumption in August was that the design would be a long term thing, I didn’t want to get into a routine or habit of overhauling the layout every few months. However, I also recognise where there are big problems, and these problems are starting to inhibit on content and hold back on business.

The Problems

For the first few months the website was going good from August to November, a nice low bounce rate which is what we are looking for, good views and good content. It looked right and it felt right, then at the end of November things took a sharp downturn. The bounce rate skyrocketed and the views started taking a hit so naturally we had to investigate and what we found has been problem after problem after problem which are seeping into the site.

We started with URL problems on the blog from the go where the URL is ‘www.markdalton.net/category/blog’ – we don’t want to have “category” in there but we are limited to it because of the layout. These problems by the way are not the theme designers fault, they are down to the layout and implementation decisions made around our design and content. Then we encountered problems with Facebook Instant Articles, in order to keep the blog clean we have to use a read more tag as it won’t cut off a certain amount of the blog post automatically at the start. The read more tag is required, when translating the content to Instant Articles, big chunks of content (basically everything below the read more tag) is cut off.

The website suddenly started grinding to a slow pace, it had been fast when launched but suddenly struggled with loading times which contributed to the rising bounce rate. The animations, sliders and high res images were causing big problems with the load times on the site. It wasn’t a problem at the start but it suddenly started becoming a problem and fast. We were able to mitigate damage by dumping all transitions, effects and multiple animations on the homepage as well as scaling down the high res images. This returned speed but also meant compromising on things we wanted to ideally keep but couldn’t.

There are problems persistently with the blog formats in the text as well as the blog layout which has ended up being extremely limited due to speed issues on the site. So with all this compounding and starting to effect business, I had to start looking for solutions.

The Solutions

Initially the idea was to working on the back end of the site, basic coding work to try right the wrongs. Long story short, I decided against it and elected to look for a new design that can guarantee to do what I want. After narrowing down to two options I started emailing people who had hands on experience with the layouts I was looking at so I could get a first hand take on what they thought. The solution is one I wanted to avoid entirely just months after launching the current design, but I’m not afraid of changing until I get it right.

Unfortunately it means there is an overhaul of the website to take place again, trust me, I’m not doing this because I get bored of themes or designs. I like the layout and the look of what we have now and the last thing I want is to change it but after sitting down with someone first hand and being shown what could be done with what we have here – I know that it is the right choice to make.

I don’t want to do it because it means taking the site offline again and getting a new design in place so soon after launching the current design but at the same time I know that it is the right thing to do. The reality is that if the little business I have after starting last year continues to suffer due to the underperformance of the website, it doesn’t reflect well and by the end of the year this business venture could be over if I sat back and did nothing because I was too afraid to change it to something I know to be right.

The difference now is I have been able to experience first hand what the new layout will be like and that has got me excited.

When is this happening?

No scheduled date, it will happen ASAP, hopefully by the end of this week we can get started and the work will take 4 days so we will be offline for that 4 day time period. There will be no big song and dance about it, just this post and then we will do it as soon as we can.

THANK YOU! For all your support as ever, particularly the people who reach out daily and you know who you are. I feel your support and encouragement every day. I feel transparency and honest is the most important thing in business and owning up to when it has gone wrong is necessary to move forward for me and this business. This time we will get it right.

Mark.