Migrating to Responsive Web Design (RWD)

In my last post I mentioned the 6 milestones Outskirts Press has identified in the course of migrating our web presence to RWD (responsive web design, which I defined previously). Those milestones are:

  1. Landings Pages
  2. Email Communication
  3. Newsletters
  4. Author Webpages
  5. Outskirts Press External
  6. Outskirts Press Internal

Let’s talk about the first milestone, landing pages, which is a milestone we have already met.  Outskirts Press does a fair amount of search engine marketing, and when someone clicks on one of those SEM links, they arrive on a “landing page” which is designed to educate the author about our self-publishing services. We have different landing pages based upon the advertising we are doing. If someone is interested in publishing a children’s book with us, for example, they arrive upon a different landing page than if they’re interested in writing a thriller, or a self-help book. We’ve gone through a number of landing pages over the years, and up until the RWD-redesigns, the last landing pages had been with us for a long time.

So it was time for new landing pages anyway.  Like any RWD redesign, the trick is to make the page look great regardless of whether you are looking at it on a wide-screen monitor or a smartphone in portrait orientation. Add to that the multiple objectives of a landing page in general, which is to acknowledge the wording of the SEM advertisement, inform the client of our available services, and motivate them to either contact us or provide their contact information, usually through the use of a free whitepaper or e-book or some other giveaway.

Since updating our landing pages to RWD, our engagement rate on those pages has improved by 50%. I’d say it was a milestone worth reaching.  Next time we’ll talk about the Email Communication milestone. In the meantime, here are screen shots of the new landing page on two different devices, so you can see how they look the same, and yet different, based upon the device being used by our clients.

screensplp-desktopscreensplp-phone

More on branding, SEO, and blogging

Well the Sapphire theme didn’t look so hot either, so for today’s post I’m trying a theme called “Contempt.” Contempt? Really, WordPress? That’s like naming a movie “Gigli” and hoping it makes any money. Titles are very important, and I’m not talking about employee titles like “President/CEO” which, to me, always sounds so huffy-puffy. No, I’m talking about titles as in names of products, titles of books, etc. This will be an on-going topic of this blog.

But today we’re still talking about branding because I’m still in the process of branding this blog appropriately. I haven’t yet settled upon a theme. It occurred to me to simply use the theme we’re using for Self Publishing News, which is “Blix” if I remember correctly. But part of successful branding is being DIFFERENT from everyone else. Being unique. Self Publishing News already takes too much of my time, and I only contribute to it about 3 times a month, but I have to be AWARE of it, and that takes allocation of my own brain’s resources. So, if I’m going to allocate time to THIS blog, too, which I am anticipating will take much more time than Self Publishing News, I owe it to my blog for it to have its own identity. So it can’t share the same theme as Self Publishing News, which is too bad, because that theme “Blix” is a pretty good one.

So, back to “Contempt.” What makes a good blog theme? There are one-column themes, like the Sapphire (bad). There are two column themes like “Contempt” and “Blix” (good) and there are three column themes like… I don’t know even what. When scrolling through the themes offered by WordPress, I even saw one 4-column theme. No!

In my opinion, two-column themes are the best. They allow for the most aesthetic viewing, with the largest column devoted to the content, and the smaller column devoted to the widgets along the side. Then the consideration becomes, which side should the “smaller” column be on? The left side or the right side? Well, this consideration revolves around SEO, which will be a common topic of this blog. At Outskirts Press we’ve always been somewhat cognizant of SEO, and in 2010 we are really accelerating those efforts because, frankly, we’ve hit something of a glass ceiling with the ROI on PPC.

How’s that for an acronym filled paragraph? Here’s a quick key:
SEO: Search Engine Optimization
ROI – Return on Investment
PPC – Pay Per Click (online advertising)

I’m already breaking one of the cardinal rules of marketing and social networking, and that is this: Don’t use jargon. But at least I’m following another rule: If you DO use jargon, at least translate it.

Back to the story: Search Engine Optimization. Search spiders read website and blog content from left to right, and there is a calculation in the algorithm that gives more value to terms that appear “higher” on the page during the spider’s search. Therefore, content that the spider “sees” on the left-side of the page will weigh more favorably to SEO than content the spider sees on the right-side of the page.

Problem solved! The Self Publishing News blog has the smaller column on the right-hand side and the larger content column on the left-hand side (for the reasons outlined above). So whatever theme I end up choosing for this blog should have the thin/wide columns reversed to give me an opportunity to conduct some A/B testing.

Am I shooting myself in the foot by moving the content-column to the right side, given the procedure with which search spiders read blogs? I don’t think so. Because my previous blogging experience has shown me that the “tagging” and “content clouds” that can be added as widgets in the thinner colum will organically/dynamically “grow” with the blog — putting the thinner column on the left-hand side might actually be BETTER. I guess we’ll see when this blog and the Self Publishing News blogs begin their “race” up the pages of Google.