Yes, we’ve updated all of the FoundLocally.com websites, a process which took over a month to programming, testing, debugging (it’s MUCH trickier than anyone thinks, with all the “moving parts”), and optimization (page speed load times have been tripled over the past week, and we will keep tweaking!).
By way of background, we have been responsive since 2015, and added the masonry style listing panels in 2016, but we realized we could clean up (simplify) our appearance across all device types. We get about 1/3 of our visitors from desktop usrss, 1/3 from users on tablets, and 1/3 from smartphone users, so having a consistent interface was a high priority for users switching between devices, moving from home to commute, to work or school.
The Responsive Design Challenge
As we explore various interfaces, and watch user interactions, on both our sites and client websites, we learn a lot of lessons.
No matter how much information is on a web site, user access to information must be as simple as possible.
If your business depends on ad revenue from click-throughs, give the ads as much space as possible, without making them clutter the page.
(and last) Ensure your users, regardless of device, have consistent access to all elements of your website, but presented optimally for each type of device.
We started with redesigning MovinginCanada.com and TransCanadaHighway.com, which are smaller websites (only 3,000 web pages, which is small for us!) and a simpler directory and data structure. Those took a month to complete both, and allowed us to observe the impact on navigation and our site users. All the while, we considered all of the issues for a more complex site with 30 cities each with 27 subdirectories, and much more complex database interactions.
Learning From WordPress
And unlike a lot of web sites, that can use WordPress to shortcut this redesign process (we also use WordPress for our marketing services website), we interact with FoundLocally’s extensive SQL Server database, which forces us to scratch-code many of our interactions. We have capabilities that custom-integrate with a lot of different computer technologies.That, and can you imagine our Pages menu when you have a hundred thousand pages of content to manage?
The End Result
We have cleaned up our menus to appear ONLY at the top of the page, reducing jumping around on a page, and reduced the search to a single magnifying glass icon (which opens the search box), now an industry standard.The Popular items menu toggles to a
Top of Screen changes in the 2018 Responsive redesign
Using MegaMenus for better access
Instead of having hierarchical menus, or right side menus, a single click on desktop or table, a “Megamenu” gives all that on one screen (or rather apart of one). We’ve added a megamenu for the Local features and Content sections for each of our 30 communities:
While we were at it, we simplified the colour palette used on the pages, to provide a more relaxing reader experience. Here is our Canada home page, also much simplified:
Canada Home page in 2018 Responsive redesign
Improved Business Listing Management
We have realized we have two key audiences: (1) people looking for local info and businesses, and (2) the businesses that are looking to boost their local visibility (and their smart SEO and web marketing folks submitting their listings).We have taken the tab bar from the mobile version and used it on all versions, to quickly move between business listing features. We also toggle the Popular menu, when logged in to be the Edit Biz Info menu (which, for several years, we called the the Do This… menu)
Edit Biz info menu in the 2018 Responsive resdesign
And our Free Listings are staying free, since we are getting lots of submissions from local businesses, their SEO firms, and their web marketers, as well as form “citations services” that get listings into multiple directories. Thank you!We have found that a FoundLocally listing is key to improving your Google rankings, since we have lots of listings, and 19 year track record, and our standards for “local” listing (with a local phone number and a local address) meet Google’s stringent criteria for quality directory listings.Be where Google, Bing, Siri, and Alexa look for “local”!
Bonus for Advertisers
And for our advertisers, mostly coming from Google and DoubleClick, we have reduced the clutter around the ads, regardless of where they appear on the page, and hopefully, this increases click-through rates and everyone’s revenues!
We get inquires from Web marketers who are not from Canada, but working with and on behalf of their Canadian clients (as much as we –on principle—prefer businesses support other local businesses), we wish everybody all the best with their marketing. Our goal is to encourage everyone to make EFFECTIVE use of FoundLocally.com For those who want to look at…
We recently conducted a review of directories and their impact of your web marketing & SEO. We noticed that several metrics that Google includes in its ranking factors are the number of back-links or “citations”. We took a look at several SEO/citation companies and their listings of “top directories”, and organized them in a spreadsheet. Where they included ranks (position…
No, SEO and directory, and search engine submission is NOT DEAD! And neither is Canada's beloved (but anachronistic) paper phone directory. In our review of top directory sites out there, as recommended by several top SEO and "Citation building" companies, we have cataloged about 200 different directories, search engines, and social media tools, etcetera that accept listings from Canadian businesses.…
Our New Year's newsletter sent to regular businesses: Let’s look back at 2018 & What EVERY BUSINESS should do in 2019 While it may seem to some that we are competing with local web design, web marketing, and SEO firms, we are working to make EVERYONE in the industry more effective and efficient. We are sharing our lessons learned on our…
Let’s look back: BIG changes over 2018 on FoundLocally.com and what EVERY BUSINESS should be doing for SEO and web marketing success in 2019 Let’s LOOK BACK at 2018 FoundLocally.com did a major redesign for a more “responsive” design, which provides the same interface for desktop, tablet, and smartphone users. We moved all the menus to the top of the…
We have made a couple of small changes to the FoundLocally sites: We continue to speed up the site finding small ways to make it faster We have updated the LOCAL megamenu for each community, particularly the Recreation and Business sections. We have updated the way we handle movie listings. Since theatres (small theatres as well as the chains) now…
TransCanada FoundLocally's president, Mark Ruthenberg, has been a judge of the Internet Advertising Competition annually since 2007. Enter your website, ad campaign, or project... see how you stack up against the world-wide competition!
Yes, we've updated all of the FoundLocally.com websites, a process which took over a month to programming, testing, debugging (it's MUCH trickier than anyone thinks, with all the "moving parts"), and optimization (page speed load times have been tripled over the past week, and we will keep tweaking!). By way of background, we have been responsive since 2015, and added…
Yes, we’ve updated our TransCanadaHighway.com travel information website, used by travellers in, around, and across Canada to plan their vacation, get updates on weather, traffic, and construction while on the road, as well as discover things to see and do, attractions, and find accommodation of all types on their way across Canada. As we explore various interfaces, and watch user interactions, on…
Yes, we've updated our MovingInCanada.com real estate and relocation website, used by home shoppers to decide where to move next, immigrants to decide where in Canada they prefer to live, and by realtors, movers, and relocation professionals across Canada to reach those audiences. As we explore various interfaces, and watch user interactions, on both our sites and client websites, we learn…
Ads in Canadian-owned newspapers and magazines are only 100 per cent deductible if the issue has more than 80 per cent original content. A Senate committee wants the government to revisit a tax rule that entices companies to advertise on foreign online platforms like Google and Facebook, spending that it says is “hobbling Canada’s already declining news industry.” The Standing…