And it’s about DAMN TIME. Here we were, preaching the mobile responsive sermon to everyone we met, running an old chassis that required mobile visitors to pinch and zoom. The travesty!
In this post, I’ll introduce the new site and talk about why we made the changes we made. It will be long.
In a follow up later this week, I’ll discuss why it took two years for a website design firm to launch their own mobile responsive website.
Doing away with the sidebar
First, you’ll note that we ditched the content/sidebar paradigm that we’d been using ever since the company started. As a matter of fact, the overall architecture of the Rowboat Media website has varied very little since its birth six years ago, in the fall of 2008. Here’s a reminder of what it has basically looked like for all that time:
We would get compliments from some potential clients, saying they liked the simplicity of our website, and how easy it was to find their way around. However, as time went on, it began to look more and more dated. We knew it didn’t look like the “typical” design firm site, and we didn’t want it to.
We like being different – so the question was – how to get an updated look, without looking like everything else that’s launched in the past year or so. If you look at enough sites, you start to see the same trends emerge over and over – and there’s a reason for that – they work, people like them, etc. – but then they all start to run together in your brain.
The nice thing about sidebars is they allow you to put calls to action like your contact form, interior links, etc. right there on every page where people can see them. This works GREAT if your website is only being viewed from a desktop.
However, once you’re on a mobile platform – if you’re not mobile responsive, people usually zoom in on the content to the exclusion of the sidebar so it’s big enough to read. You just lost its effectiveness right there. And if you ARE mobile responsive, then the way things typically work is the sidebar content drops UNDERNEATH the main content. Which puts that shiny call to action down at the bottom of a long scroll.
So…to design in a mobile responsive world, you have to think strategically on what to prioritize top-to-bottom rather than side-to-side.
See? This is the kind of head-scratching people pay us to do for them. Which is why we each now have a lovely wig collection.
We still may have some tweaking to do to make sure all of our services and content are still as easy to find as we want them to be – but we had to get this baby LAUNCHED. Two years is a lot of gin and whiskey.
Making our offerings more obvious
While the fabulous website is still an important foundation to build upon, these days, you have to promote that puppy through savvy and consistent content marketing to get any traction whatsoever. The days of throwing up a cleanly built website with the proper metadata and watching it index on page 1 of Google within mere days (yes, we had this happen to us and our clients in 2008-2009 and it was HEADY STUFF), are, sadly, SO over.
Many clients don’t realize that we also help with that once your website is launched, so we wanted to put it right out there at the top of the home page. Also, circles groovy, colors pretty.
Putting our mugs right out front
Our previous website, unless you went directly to the “About” page, was rather faceless. We wanted to change that, so we got brave and stuck our quirky heads right there on the home page for you to see. We are not a big corporation – we’re a small team of kooky folks who are passionate (how overused is that term) about making sure other small business owners get the care they need and the service they deserve. Here we are!
Giving you the opportunity to write to us on every single page
You’ll notice that big-ass inquiry form at the bottom of EVERY page now. We wanted to make it as easy as possible for folks to ask us about working together.
Making blog content more engaging
You’ll note that we have given both the portfolio and the blog a huge facelift, and that it looks a lot more like your visually social media layouts, specifically Google+ and Pinterest. These days, the visual is the new headline, and we wanted to make it much easier for readers to both visually and verbally browse the content, making it more likely that they would find something of interest.
There were a million other tiny details – and we’re still working out the kinks. Please take a look at the new site, drop us a line and tell us what you think (or if you find something that’s broken, PLEASE) – and if you feel so moved, please do share it on the socials.