About.com is one of the big guns when it comes to content, no question. Its two million plus guides, tutorials, recipes, reviews and advice attract over 60 million visitors monthly. About.com was having no problem getting clicks. Strong SEO and rich niche content translated into high organic search engine rankings. However, getting visitors to explore additional pages was another story. Something as simple as one additional click would generate a big boost in traffic.
HUGE started with some research: stakeholder interviews with former About.com CEOs, guides and partners, as well as a look into site analytics and multiple rounds of usability tests.
These exercises led to two big revelations:
- Most people weren’t entering About.com through the home page. They were using article pages they’d found through search engines.
- About.com visitors were clicking in and out of the site without realizing where they were. The whole experience was brief, disjointed and anonymous.
The first step was the implementation of a site-wide reskin, a newly designed logo, and style guide that reduced visual noise while protecting About.com’s impressive numbers and bringing the facade up-to- date. The article page and site navigation in particular were given special attention: clutter was removed, the layout was streamlined, and the look and feel were made simple and fresh.
Building on these quick wins, HUGE designed multiple versions of the article page, tweaking and testing until they arrived at something that would effortlessly expose related content without overwhelming the user. Next, we amped up Topics, narrower subjects such as woodworking and homeschooling, as the central focus at the top of the page. This represented a fundamental shift for About.com, which had previously been highlighting Channels, or broader subjects such as Health, Education, and Travel.
Doing so increases relevancy for users. Someone interested in a Nikon is less likely to be looking in Electronics and more likely to be looking in Digital Cameras. It also positions About.com as an active place, one that visitors will want to return to for wide-ranging coverage of whatever interests them.
Finally, HUGE designed a new look and feel that built upon the quick wins version after testing a number of templates. The open and airy design makes it easier to engage with content and gives About.com a contemporary feel, which in turn helps the content appear more timely.
The new About.com is a trusted, branded and memorable experience, the result of HUGE and About.com working together to recognize the needs of consumers and develop a warmer and more welcoming entryway. Users are excited about the additional options while advertisers are pleased with the relevancy, simplicity and comprehensiveness. Following the redesign, individual page views increased by 28 percent and site visits increased by 10 percent throughout the cleaner, vetted designs.