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Redesign Your Website? Check these Simple Tips

There's no secret sauce and this site redesign was more about implementing the various things I have learned in the last 5 years. These tips will help people who are planning to launch a new website or getting a fresh coat of paint for an old site.

Its been more than a month since the new design of Digital Inspiration went live and lot of you have asked me how this redesign has affected the web traffic and advertising revenue for this blog.

It may be a bit premature to say if this redesign had any affect on the traffic as search engine take time to re-evaluate rankings but let me show some graphs for the past 8 months (the new design went live in the last week of August).

pageviews

The number of RSS subscribers stayed the same at ~30k, the pageviews increased by ~16% and the monthly advertising revenue went up by ~40% after the redesign.

advertising revenue

Theres no secret sauce and this redesign was more about implementing the various things I have learned in the last 5 years. Ill try to cover all the points here as they may help people who are planning to launch a new website or getting a fresh coat of paint for an old site.

1. Old Google Analytics reports helped me determine all the non-English languages that were most popular with visitors. I used that data to order the various languages in the translation drop-down above.

2. All clicks on social sharing tools (like delicious, StumbleUpon, etc) are again tracked via Google Analytics. This helps in keeping the layout less cluttered as we can remove services that are less frequently used.

3. A lot of people still prefer to print pages so theres a separate print stylesheet that removes all the non-essential stuff from the pages while printing. The same format is available when saving pages as PDF which is another hugely popular option.

4. If you look at the subscription buttons in the top right corner of the page, the RSS readers are placed in the order of popularity using data from FeedBurner.

5. m.labnol.org - The mobile friendly version of the blog is implemented using Google Reader. The difference is that the Google Reader page is rendered inside a frame so you have an easy to remember web address.

6. Theres a dedicated search page powered by Google Custom Search this makes it easy for people to search DI from the address bar of new browsers like Chrome (see #4).

7. There are detailed pages like About Me, FAQ, Tools & Widgets, Press, etc. These small things do help in converting a casual search visitor into a regular reader. And please dont feel shy in writing about yourself because nobody else is going to do that for you.

8. Always add a detailed Advertising page to help potential advertisers get an idea about advertising rates and different ad slots available on your website and RSS feeds. I use Google Ad Manager for managing all the direct advertising campaigns.

9. Always create an HTML sitemap of your site that is different from the regular XML sitemap. The whole idea is that search engines should be able to discover all pages on your site within two levels.

10. Common files like CSS, JavaScript and images are now hosted on Amazon S3 this helps reduce the number of incoming connections (and load) on the main web server thus improving overall performance.

11. I ran a heat map test using CrazyEgg for about a month to determine the right placement of certain section of this site.

12. The blogroll page received a huge response from readers and also helped me build relationships with certain bloggers whom I read regularly but never got an opportunity to interact before.

13. The actual content is served from www.labnol.org while the images are served from another sub-domain at img.labnol.org. Why? Since browsers create only a limited number of connections to one site, serving images from another location probably speeds up loading.

To know how this can be implemented, read these WordPress Tips & Tricks.

14. Divya Manian played a major role in the redesign of Digital Inspiration.

15. Whenever possible, I try adding text captions to images as that helps improve rankings in Image Search engines thus bringing indirect traffic.

16. I moved from Blogger to WordPress about an year ago but didnt move the old Blogger articles in WordPress since that would break all the organic rankings. Looking at the current traffic on the old blog, I think that was not a bad decision something you may wish to consider when planning to move to your own domain from blogspot.com or wordpress.com.

17. I take my Google Webmaster Central reports very seriously - Big G is responsible for ~90% of the search traffic.

18. I try to use short URLs (aka post slugs) for articles taking a hint from Matt Cutts.

19. AdSense ads are not displayed on articles for three days from the date of publishing. Thus people who follow the site regularly dont see ads.

20. The new design uses section targeting and that has definitely helped in increasing the overall relevancy of AdSense ads.

Thats about it. Anyone can now register at DI and going forward, well have separate profile pages for all the members to promote their sites and feeds.

Should you have any questions related to the redesign, please put them in the comments.



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