YEARS of Experience in Tech, Computers, and Online
We’ve updated FoundLocally.com!
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 users, 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 sub-directories within them, 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
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:
We also added a megamenu to access each of the Other Cities from a single menu, as well as access our affiliated websites (TransCanadaHighway.com, MovingInCanada.com and our marketing tips websites marketing.FoundLocally.com)
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:
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)
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!