I think one of the curses of running your own website is that you find yourself getting tired of the way it looks.
Combine that with the know-how of doing design and coding – and the fact that I enjoy it – and it makes for a deadly combination. One that can easily lead to a lot of wasted time tinkering with a web design (wasted because it doesn’t really make me money).
But, it WAS time for this site to get a makeover. A lot of people seemed to like the old one (I routinely had people asking me who designed it… the answer is me), but it was time to re-do things with some adjusted specs.
The old layout
The new layout
There are still some tweaks to be made. Plus, I’m working on something new that will really highlight archived posts quite nicely… and be damn helpful in the process. Plus, it’ll be great for SEO. 🙂 But, that’s not ready yet.
I thought I would share a few of those specs I had going into this – to the degree you can apply them to your own site. Let’s rock…
Video Squeeze Homepage
Most people who come into this site go directly into one of my posts. In that case, they get the post (of course).
The homepage’s purpose, then, is simply to get a new visitor to connect and stick around. The best way to do THAT is to get them on the email list. So, instead of exclusively showing the list of recent posts and the typical crowded sidebar, I turned the above-the-fold area into a video squeeze into my list, then below that are the recent posts (so that I don’t throw people off) and a simpler sidebar which features my stuff.
This type of homepage design should be much more effective in terms of opt-in (it is way too early to have any actual test results). Plus, it gets rid of the duplicate opt-ins (I had 3 calls for the Blueprint report on the prior homepage).
We all know squeeze pages work AWESOMELY for list building. So, why not bring some of that into the design of your blog homepage?
Better Featuring Of My Products
The old layout did a bad job of highlighting any of my products. That was because the design was created before those products existed.
The new design will feature the products in the sidebar. The products page was re-designed as well so as to have a better presentation.
Lastly, the Inner Circle program was pretty much just slammed into the sidebar of the old design. In the new one, it has been built into the header menu, but in a fashion which clearly delineates it from the rest. We’ve designed the menu bar so that it turns into arrows which point right at the Inner Circle (which is also obviously shown in a highlighted orange color). You’ll also notice how the little RSS and Twitter icons have been designed to appear as arrows pointing – where?… to the Inner Circle.
More Efficient Opt-In Funneling
The trick with opt-ins is to attract it when the person is in the mindset to want it. A lot of bloggers simply smack the opt-in into their sidebar and hope people notice. That’s almost the old-school retail mindset… stick it in your face and hope for the impulse “buy”, right? That doesn’t work very well on a blog and people are much more likely to be blind to an opt-in in your sidebar.
Now, don’t get me wrong – you SHOULD have an opt-in in your sidebar. Preferably right at the top.
But, other areas which are ideal for opt-in placement are:
- Beneath all posts. Rather than only display social media links and/or related posts, present them the opportunity to opt-in front and center.
- About page. For new visitors, the about page is often one of the most visited pages on your blog. So, use the opportunity to “sell” them on the value of your information, then present an opt-in. In my case, the first part of my about page answers the question “what’s in this for me?” – as asked by my new reader. I then present an opt-in. I also present another opt-in toward the middle, and another beneath the bio photo collage on the right side (since that graphic will naturally draw people to it).
- On other main navigation pages. A good rule of thumb is that every page linked to in your main navigation should have an opt-in. This does depend on the purpose of the page. For example, my consulting page doesn’t have an opt-in because the call to action is different.
- Category Pages. This one is still on my todo list (hey, I was in a hurry here), but having an opt-in on your category pages is also good. You can even “theme” your opt-ins on different categories so they can get more info about whatever the category is.
Just remember, the purpose of a public blog is to attract people, then ultimately EARN THEIR LEAD. If you don’t do that, you have no chance of really making real money at this in the future.
I have some more tweaks to make to this design, but nothing too major.
I also want to thank Shawn from Virtuous Giant for his help with the design. Working with a client like me – who knows how to tweak CSS and tends to be the DIY type – might have been pretty different than the usual. Shawn took my criteria and designed the header and several other elements. I can do CSS and coding all day, but I straight-up suck with Photoshop. So, Shawn helps me out alot with that. 🙂 Thanks, dude.
What I am working on are several new guides to address different aspects of this business. These guides will be here on the site, designed to be helpful reference pages, and also link into some of my best, related posts here on this site. These guides will be prominently featured and is part of my strategy of bringing some of my best stuff out from the archives. I have almost 1,000 posts on this site and the homepage only shows a few at a time.
So, stay tuned for that. 🙂
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