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The Impact of My Blog Redesign on Engagement and Opt-Ins

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The Impact of My Blog Redesign on Engagement and Opt-Ins

If you have been following NichePursuits.com for a while, you will know that just recently I went through a major redesign.

In fact, when I started my blog back at the end of 2010 I simply found a theme for about $37 that I liked, got a cheap logo and I was off and blogging.  I used that same blog design and logo for 4 years!

During those 4 years, my blog great tremendously and do I dare say I've had a small impact on my ever growing community?  So, the first lesson is that you do NOT need an expensive design to get started blogging.  People care more about the quality of your content then the quality of your logo…really.

However, I finally decided that it was time for a fresh look.  So, I hired Taylor Hendrickson of HendricksenDesign.com to tackle the task.  Taylor did an amazing job, and I definitely recommend him if you are looking to have your site designed.

Today, I want to review some of the stats related to my new blog design.  I'll be diving into things like pages viewed, time on site, opt in rates, and more.

Hopefully some of this information will help you as you think about getting a fancy new design for your own site!

Before and After…

As mentioned, I used a very cheap WordPress theme and logo for 4 years on my site.  I actually think they looked pretty well…for something under $100.

I want to to share some before and after screenshots as well as the statistics.

NichePursuits.com Before Nov. 2014

2015-02-09_1307

and…

2015-02-09_1315

NichePursuits.com After Nov. 2014

2015-02-09_1320

and

2015-02-09_1310

For the overall look and feel of the site, I think it's a huge jump forward in terms of design and feel!

The process of getting the logo figured out was actually probably the most difficult.  Once Taylor and I got that in place, everything else seemed to go without a hitch.

I have to admit that I attribute how smooth everything went to Taylor and his great eye for design AND understanding my goals.  He understands my market very well and was able to come up with design, opt-in copy, and more with very little input from me.

However, there is much more to a site than looking great; I want results.  So, let's take a look at some of the stats to see how my website is performing now vs. the old design.

Avg. Session Duration: Increase of 23 seconds

Old site design: 2:51

New site design: 3:14

An increase of of 23 seconds per session is pretty significant.  This means that people are staying on the site longer and as we will see below, visiting more pages.

I have to suspect this is due to a more professional design that helps people feel like Niche Pursuits is a quality site.  My related posts and project pages have also been strategically designed to encourage people to stick around and read more content as well.

Pages / Session: Increase of 0.13 Pages

Old site design: 2.03 pages/session

New site design: 2.16 pages/session

Having people stick around longer and visit more pages is always a good thing to build trust and engagement. This metric is mostly driven by the quality of content.  The most interesting your blog posts, the more readers will want to stick around and see what else you have written.

However, as you can see a site redesign can also have a positive impact on this metric as well.  I'm definitely happy with the increase here.

Bounce Rate: Improvement of 1.01%

Old site design: 64.06%

New site design: 63.05 %

As you can see, there was only a slight improvement here…but it is an improvement nonetheless.  Since the content of my site has not changed, I have to attribute this improvement to the new site design.

Average Daily Opt-ins: Increase of 30.03 Email Opt-Ins

Old site design: 20.59 average daily opt-ins

New site design: 50.62 average daily opt-ins

Building an email list is SO important, so this is a metric that I care much more about than some of the previous ones mentioned.

This increase is HUGE!  In fact, I now get 2.5 times as many new email subscribers per day than I did before the site redesign.  That's pretty amazing.

A big part of this was more than just a fancy new design.  I also finally got around to implementing some of the strategies that I knew I should have been using all along.  Call me lazy, but I finally got around to adding things like pop-ups, content upgrades, and more.

Perhaps you have seen my new splash page on my homepage.  This has helped:

2015-02-09_1314

In addition, I now have content upgrades within most of my blog posts (including all my old ones) that has significantly improved opt-in rates.

And then I've added timed pop-ups to improve the opt-in rate even further.  I'm sure I could be doing even more, but I'm quite happy with the significant increase in email subscribers that I'm now getting.

I should also mention that all of these splash pages, content upgrades, and pop-ups are all custom designed.  I'm not using any out of the box plugins or designs.  These we also customer programmed and design specially for my site by Taylor Hendricksen.

Email Opt-in Conversion Rate: Increase of 1.49%

Old site design: 0.77%

New site design: 2.26%

I know an increase of 1.49% doesn't sound like much, but it really is in raw numbers.  That's an increase of almost 300%!

I know that only 2.26% of people opting into my email list doesn't sound that great, but I'm very happy with it.  You also have to realize that I get A LOT of returning visitors that are already on my email list anyway, so I'll take it.

A Few Final Thoughts…

Overall, the statistics are speaking loud and clear to me, the new site design has been a HUGE success!  People are staying on my site longer, visiting more pages, and are more likely to opt-in to my email list.

Privately, people have also shared with me that they absolutely love the new design as well.  I was nervous going in to all the changes, but I'm quite pleased with the design and the results.

I do want to give another shout out to Taylor Hendricksen for the awesome design work he has done.  He had so many ideas and was able to implement the few ideas that I had without any issue.

In fact, I was so happy with the work that Taylor did, that I've had him redesign the look and feel of Long Tail Pro as well!  That's right a new design of Long Tail Pro is coming out very soon.

The impact of my new blog design has been huge.  While I still think that people just starting out do NOT need to spend thousands of dollars with a fancy design, when you have the money to upgrade your site, it's definitely worth it.

Bootstrap your way to an audience with a cheap WordPress theme, then give your site a facelift only once you know your business has some legs.

As always, I would love to hear any comments or questions that you have about designing a site or anything else related to this post.

Yes! I Love to Learn

Want to learn step-by-step how I built my Niche Site Empire up to a full-time income?

40 Comments for this Post

  1. Jon Haws

    Jon Haws

    Great stuff Spencer. I do like the new color scheme and floating widgets. I think it makes for a better user experience as a whole. Keep it up!

  2. Larry Holisky

    Larry Holisky

    Another piece ofinsightful content for us numbers guys (and gals).
    A couple of follow up questions.
    1. How long was the whole site design process, from start to finish?
    2. Cost? Maybe not exact numbers but rough estimate so we might have an idea what to expect?
    3. If you had to do it over again, would you have done anything different?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Larry, glad you enjoyed the post. Here’s some answers:
      1. About 3 months. A lot of that was just back and forth with different logo designs trying to get it just right.
      2. Between $5-$10k. I will just say that for the amt of custom work done, I normally would have had to pay twice as much, but Taylor has been a blog reader for several years so gave me a good deal.
      3. Honestly, I don’t have any changes. We made sure to cover everything I wanted during our strategy/planning stage.

  3. Benji

    Benji

    Thanks for sharing this, spencer! Would love to see a post outlining all of the specific changes you made to increase your opt-ins and conversion rates.

    I’ve been in the long process of rebranding and redesigning my coffee site. Hope to be done at the end of the month and can’t wait to compare my own stats.

  4. Mike

    Mike

    I would highly recommend surveying your audience as well as reviewing the analytics from your google analytics service. Combining qualitative and quantitative data together will give you a more complete picture of user experience and many times reveals information about the site user experience you weren’t aware of. A great free tool is offered by iPerceptions.com (https://www.iperceptions.com/en/4q).

  5. Dale

    Dale

    Thanks for sharing the stats.

    I would’ve guessed that you’d have a higher pages/visit, but maybe that’s just due to a lot of return traffic. Mind sharing how much direct (or returning) traffic you get and if that’s changed at all after the re-design?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      About 49% of traffic is returning. Close to 1/3 of my traffic is direct. That appears to be about the same for both before and after.

  6. Leo

    Leo

    Spencer,

    I very much like the redesign as well. I love that your old site was done with a $37 template. It’s impressive that you took it as far as you did.

    One other item that *REALLY* helped me in the post, was listing the specific data on bounce rate, page/session and opt-in percentage. For a future article, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the nitty gritty details on these metrics including targets etc.

    Thanks as always,

    -Leo

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Leo, glad you like the site! What additional nitty-gritty details would you want to hear besides targets/goals?

    • Leo

      Leo

      Hi Spencer,

      The information that I’d love to hear more about is the traffic (at least in percentages) of your landing pages. I have more than 54 pages that received organic traffic, however, 78.5% of the traffic was from 5 pages. My top page received was responsible for 40.7% of all traffic and the home page was 19.6% with a major drop off after that. Is this type of traffic distribution normal?

      How many KW do you register for in GWT? Can you give us visibility to clicks vs impressions? Right now, we are sitting at 9.71% clicks to impressions. This number is really going up for us, but I’d like to get a benchmark if you feel comfortable sharing. (To be clear, not asking for the words your ranking for, just the number and CTR on them).

      Do you spend anytime segementing your traffic for mobile vs table vs computer? Do you notice specific trends or take into account the layout of each?

      In closing, I’d just love to hear how you think about the data around your site. Google analytics is filled with information about how visitors are using the site so it be great to hear how someone I respect uses that data to improve his business.

      -Leo

  7. Doug

    Doug

    WOW. That’s amazing about the optin rate. Well done.

    Can you share the ratio of opt-ins you get on the front page vs. all other pages?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Doug. That’s a difficult stat to get exactly. 31.65% of people that opted in before design change started on homepage (but doesn’t mean they opted in on homepage, just means that’s where they started). 31.17% of opt in start on homepage after design change.

      When I look at Exit pages: 15.68% of my opt ins are from people that exit site from homepage (before design change). 16.37% of my opt ins now are people that exit site from homepage.

      Not sure if that made sense…or if it helps.

  8. Mitko

    Mitko

    I’m one of your readers that actually likes the old design more. Interesting study!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Yep, the old design looked pretty good for $37! However, the stats have spoken, I’m sticking with the new design 🙂

    • Julia H

      Julia H

      I agree. I prefer the old site’s design. But I imagine that this site will work better on multiple devices.

      I’m happy you are getting more conversions though. But I am not nuts about the faintness of the main body font characters. I read very quickly, and I find it is harder to read. Although I imagine it is faster to load a page. For the “X” number of minutes I’m reading your content, it may make it harder for me to read it. And I should not have to slow down to read a site.

      But congrats on the impressive stats. Perhaps a few tweaks are still needed.

      • Spencer Haws

        Spencer Haws

        Thanks for the feedback Julia! I’m definitely willing to make tweaks…I had no idea people might find it harder to read. I can look into darkening the font.

  9. Lisa Irby

    Lisa Irby

    Was completely blown away when I came here a few weeks ago and saw your new design. So fresh, modern and clean. Love it and that open rate improvement is amazing! Great job, Spencer.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Lisa…love the positive feedback!

  10. Anthony

    Anthony

    That jump in opt ins is huge! 50/day! Wow, I have to pay $130 to get 50 subs.
    Nice work.

  11. Ngan Son

    Ngan Son

    Beautiful design, your blog load fast than previsous time.

  12. Jon

    Jon

    Are you using a plugin for the optin CTAs in your posts?

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      It’s custom designed by Taylor. So, its not a plugin, but a custom development as part of my new design.

  13. Russell Lobo

    Russell Lobo

    Hi Spencer,
    Love the new design and just heard your podcast on Steve’s website too. You inspire us!!!
    Do you think if you compare email optins to New visitors (as shown by Google Analytics), that would be a better metric as compared to all visitors since you have a very high number of loyal returning visitors (including me).

  14. Anand

    Anand

    This is an interesting study. Did the new design improve your mobile stats?

    I like the new design. It’s fresh and appealing.

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      I did a quick check on mobile visitors using iOS. Time on site before: 2:25. After: 2:39.
      Bounce rate before: 69.35. After: 69.09.

  15. Jon Haver

    Jon Haver

    Great timing Spencer…I was working on a little redesign. Mine is drastically overdue.

    I like how you kept the site focused on the great content you produce and didn’t try and have it do 2 jobs with selling of LTP. Email opt ins of 50 is great! you must be pumped about the doubling of opt ins – that will be huge!

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Thanks Jon! Yep, a new design and additional opt in strategies (content upgrades, etc); can have a big impact on email registrations.

  16. Zeus

    Zeus

    It took me a while to comprehend what was going on in ” Email Opt-in Conversion Rate” because of the negative sign(-2.26%)

    • Spencer Haws

      Spencer Haws

      Ah good catch. That was just mean as a dash. Fixed.

  17. Crystal Foth

    Crystal Foth

    Great job Spencer! I really love the new design – I noticed a little while ago and I’m glad to see it’s had such a nice impact on subscribers too. I always look forward to your posts. Thanks for the update and kudos to Taylor for such a great site!

  18. Dr. 'Malik Haruna king

    Dr. 'Malik Haruna king

    This is timely. I needed to see this—and know that redesigning could turn things around for my site! Now, my “suspicions” are confirmed—it works!

    I will employ Hendricksen’s services.

    Thanks Spencer.

  19. Carey

    Carey

    The new design is much much better and posts are easier to read. I’d still like to see more padding and white space used to give the content some breathing room.

    One thing that really annoys me is the pop over subscription message. Just creates a barrier to reading the great content.

  20. Paul

    Paul

    Good job on the redesign but I’d like to point out some misuse of stats.

    “Email Opt-in Conversion Rate: Increase of 1.49%

    Old site design: 0.77%

    New site design: 2.26%

    I know an increase of 1.49% doesn’t sound like much, but it really is in raw numbers. That’s an increase of almost 300%!”

    It’s an increase of 1.49 pourcentage points. And the title should have been Email Opt-in Conversion Rate: Increase of 194%
    Maybe I’m being pedantic, but I thought nothing to be lost by pointing it out :).

    Good day to you.

  21. Nick

    Nick

    Holy crap that jump in email subscribers is huge! That along will be well worth the $5-10k investment in the redesign!

  22. Aivar Magin

    Aivar Magin

    Good for you Spencer!
    The site truly looks very sleek and user friendly.
    Some people just don’t understand the importance of design…
    Thank you for sharing this to us, just one great testament of what careful redesigning can do!

  23. Crizmo

    Crizmo

    Love to see the article,
    This is a practical explanation of how a site design impacts on the onsite engagement ratio

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