Back at it again with another website reveal project! I haven't been great at showcasing recent website projects over the past few months and I'm making a point to change that. Not only is it fun to show off my work and highlight my clients, it's also a fun way to show you what goes into a website project, a "behind the scenes" look at my process, and all the thought and strategy that goes into each design decision.
Today we are going to look at a website I did recently for Enemy Arrows, which is a novel about the Huron-Wendat nation and life in the 1400s. Fellow history junkies, raise your hands! I was really excited to take on this project because it was a totally different from any other website I've done. The Enemy Arrows website would obviously be centred around the book, but it was also going to be a place that housed many learning resources and additional information. This particular website redesign project was neat because we were doing a complete facelift in the areas of design, content and layout. I was able to get strategic and guide the project in a really intentional way and I'm thrilled with the final result.
In this blog post, I'm going to walk you through the website redesign process from start to finish, tell you about our goals for the project, and also explain the different features and services we chose to use and why.
Let's dive right in!
Enemy Arrows - website reveal video walkthrough
The author of Enemy Arrows came to me for a website redesign project in anticipation of a lot of book related activity that would be happening in summer 2017. They had an existing, basic website but it was extremely dated and hadn't been touched in years. It was clunky, the content wasn't well laid out (which lead to a poor user experience), and the overall formatting of the website was super awkward. Needless to say, the old website was better than nothing but it didn't support the book/author or provide a positive impression. It was clearly time for a new website, especially since the summer would be filled with various events and festivals related to the book. Plus, author Will O'Hara was gearing up for a second edition and that milestone needed to be celebrated!
The author filled out the client questionnaire ahead of our redesign project kickoff and we covered branding, website design & development, and also discussed how best to support and inform readers about topics related to the book. We put an emphasis on education in this website, but that doesn't mean that we ignored other key areas of website success such as driving sales and building an audience through social media and email list! I'll explain how we tackled all that below.
Project Goals and Objectives
Enemy Arrows was in desperate need of a new website, but by the same vein it needed a new brand and to establish an online presence.
Some of the goals for the new website included:
- Redesign and brand the website with a modern look and an intuitive layout
- Drive book sales
- Connect with readers and online audience
- Highlight related learning and informational resources
As mentioned above, summer 2017 was a season for several book-related events so we knew that we wanted to show off those events and keep the audience informed as much as possible.
We had a LOT of content from the old website that we could leverage but a big challenge would be completely revamping how that information was presented and grouped together on the new Enemy Arrows website. We took a good, hard look at all the content and offerings on the website and got strategic with how we would design the site with user journeys and calls-to-action (CTAs) in mind. This meant adding and/or removing pages, as well as re-categorizing and re-grouping content at a high level.
We were lucky that Enemy Arrows included so many beautiful illustrations by artist Tom McNeely and we chose to included many images throughout the website. The previous website hadn't shown off the book cover so we decided on a flat-lay photo for the banner image on the Home Page to show off the book and provide context.
The previous website hadn't shown off any of the unique features that went along with the Enemy Arrows book, such as the Chapter 1 audio recording, so we pushed those unique features to the forefront. Finally, we knew that we we wanted to integrate social media and an email newsletter in this new website as a way to stay in touch with readers and connect with an online audience who was interested in the book's subject matter.
It goes without saying that a big consideration was search engine optimization (SEO) since we wanted to make it easier for people to find out about Enemy Arrows online. If you haven't already, be sure to check out my Squarespace SEO Series for lots more blog posts and video tutorials!
Right from the start of the project, we decided to move off the old website platform and onto Squarespace and ultimately we went with the Bedford template. From there, we customized the template to meet our design ideas.
The homepage is the main starting point for for any website and we chose flat lay image of the book followed by a multi-part call-to-action (CTA) section to make the visitor's journey as simple and strategic as possible.
We also broke up the homepage's content with visual blocks and icons. To do this, we identified the workflow we wanted visitors to take on the website and pushed clients to get in touch with the firm as the primary call to action.
We revamped the page categorization and how the content was presented and grouped together, which was a really fun task to experiment with! A big part of this was because we wanted to simplify the menu and navigation. The new website would use a lot of sub-pages (since the site has a lot of content) and we were relieved to have everything organized in this new format.
We also added an email newsletter sign-up to the pre-footer content and integrated the Enemy Arrows Instagram feed (video tutorial on how to do this here). This is a great way to drive traffic back to a website!
You'll notice that presently there is no blog on the Enemy Arrows website, but that might be something that gets added in the futures. Fingers crossed because blogs are great for SEO and I always encourage any website to have one!
Our entire creative strategy was centred around the fact that this website was different from most book/author websites since it is also a hub of learning about the topic. In industry talk, we were focused on the unique selling point. Our intention was to create a site that stands out but also supports readers and an online audience who is interested in further education.
Branding & Design
Once the heavy lifting of web design & development was taken care of, it was time to move onto branding!
Logo: Since we went with the Bedford template, we chose not to create a unique logo and instead went with a simple text for the site title.
Colours : We chose a colour palette that played on the earthy & natural hues of the book cover for the Enemy Arrows branding that makes use of a white background on the website and in marketing materials. The forrest green, taupe and golden accent colours go well with the dark and light greys.
Fonts: We used Cabin for the titles/headers and Gudea for the body text.
Images and graphics: We were lucky that we had so many gorgeous illustrations by artist Tom McNeely from the Enemy Arrows book that we could use around the website! The author provided the home page's flat lay image as well as several other graphics. We did not use any stock photography but did make use of several icons on the home page.
Success Metrics and Results
Keeping in mind the goals mentioned above, let's take a look at the results after the website redesign process.
Establish a brand & redesign website: We did this through a colour palette, font pairing, image selection, and a new website template. Content was entirely updated and reformatted with intention.
Drive sales: Visitors to the site can easily purchase the book online (that was very hard to do with the previous website)
Connect with readers & online audience: Added an email newsletter and integrated the Enemy Arrows Instagram feed. Also direct visitors to the site to check out upcoming events so that they can get involved.
Highlight related learning and informational resources: This was part of the content overhaul and is now presented in a much more strategic and thorough way.
Also worth noting is that since our website redesign project, website traffic has increased and Enemy Arrows has gained more Instagram followers. The email list is growing too!
I had so much fun working on the Enemy Arrows website redesign project and learned a lot in the process about how best to present website content and guide visitors through a journey around the site with intention! I also loved seeing how much passion goes into a book and all the ways we can continue to connect with and support our readers/audience over time. The new brand is natural and earthy and speaks to Enemy Arrows in a thoughtful way. I'm glad we were able to highlight all the unique features of Enemy Arrows (audio content! illustrations! additional resources and learning opportunities! events!) and I can't wait to see how this platform continues to grow an inspire a new group of readers.
Now it's your turn to tell me, what do you think of the new Enemy Arrows website? Are there any features that jumped out at you? Do you have any questions about the design process or the choices we made? Any thoughts on the layout? I'd love to know so leave me a note in the comments!
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