Two years ago the Cybernautic team began planning for the development of a brand new website. We wanted to produce a website that pushed the limits of design while maintaining the boundaries of universal accessibility. We wanted it to be our most ambitious effort with Search Engine Optimization and Social Networking. We wanted it to be the first site to use Version 3 of our Content Management System. We also wanted the new site to showcase our portfolio, provide our clients with tips and resources, and list each of our web services. Below is an outline of each feature we've implemented and a brief description of how we put each feature to use.
- Refined for hundreds of hours - Creative Director Jason Sanders and CEO Chad Parker (although most credit goes to Sanders) have worked tirelessly to come up with a design that is simple and intuitive but visually went beyond anything we've done before. After throwing away dozens of really good designs we concluded that this layout best suits Cybernautic, and we're thrilled with the results!
- iPhone/iPad compatible - Originally we had planned to use flash on our home page, but just 2 months before completion we changed our plans and dumped flash for an HTML5/CSS fader that would be fully compatible with iPhones/iPads and other standards-based devices, making the site universally accessible.
- Simple yet Elegant - After we outlined all of the content we realized this was going to be a challenge because we wanted to add a lot of new content. On top of that, we ambitiously decided to build the site WITHOUT drop down menus. This required a lot of usability testing to make sure it was simple enough to navigate and again, we are thrilled with the results.
- Powerful Brand Identity - We've developed a great reputation and a powerful brand identity and we wanted to be careful not to wander too far away from the brand that our company was built upon; at the same time we wanted to roll out some new branding elements that are now in use in our proposal folders, envelopes, letterhead, documentation, shirts, billboards, print ads, and online ads. The result is a seamless experience that pulls our brand together.
- CSS & HTML5 - Not only did we opt to dump Flash for HTML5 and CSS on the home page, but we've put HTML5 and CSS to use on content sliders throughout the website to make navigation more fun and more interactive for our site visitors.
- Cross Browser and Backwards compatible - This is always a pain in the neck when we roll out new features because most people do not use the latest browsers so we had to do extensive testing to make sure the cool new features would work across each of the 5 major browsers (Internet Explorer, FireFox, Safari, Chrome, and Opera). In addition to that, we tested in the most current browser version as well as the previous browser version for each of the major browsers to maximize our reach. This is a standard feature for every Cybernautic website
- Mobile compatible - We have had more requests for mobile compatibility than ever before in recent months so we wanted to make sure the site was as mobile compliant as possible, so users could see everything on mobile devices. We tested in the site on iPhone, Android, iPad, Palm's Web OS, and Windows Mobile (Blackberry's browser is not standards compliant).
- Cloud Hosting - We introduced the power of cloud hosting in the fall of 2009 when we debuted a website for ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and we wanted to host our own website on the same platform to set a new, higher standard for our clients. Now all Cybernautic produced websites receive the same powerful hosting systems that ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition got. Site outages are now a thing of the past.
- Portfolio - Our portfolio was the most trafficked page on our old website, obviously because our potential customers want to see the work we're producing. So we completely redesigned our portfolio to make it easier to navigate and so we could include screenshots along with a case study. We decided to only include a few websites because it would take so long to profile each of the sites that we've produced.
- Contact Form - We've made a habit of loading a contact form to every page of the sites we design recently in an effort to improve conversions. It's worked really well for our clients so we wanted to put it to work for ourselves too! we also plan to test a three function contact form in a few months that will accommodate visitors who just want to post a question or comment, but also for visitors that would like to request a quote AND visitors that would like to submit an RFP (Request for Proposal). Finally, we decided to add a commenting system to our Tips and Resources pages and the Latest News pages so you can comment on the news and tips that we post.
- Services - Our service list has grown significantly since the launch of our old website so we wanted a better way to feature each of the services that we provide. We did this by creating two primary sections for services since all of our services fall into two categories: Web Design and Web Marketing. This makes it easy to learn more about what we do and allows us to post deep details about each of our major services.
Search Engine Optimization
- On-Site Optimization - Our most ambitious efforts are 'under the hood.' We have optimized the code on every page of this website to accommodate each of the major search engines. This helps our website rank higher when you search for our services. Additionally, we've improved the content on each page of our website to it is better tailored to our site visitors when they land on one of our pages.
- Off Site Optimization - We've also done a lot of work off-site. This means that we've worked with hundreds of other website owners that have links that point to our site. We've worked hard to get those links and we've worked hard to optimize those links.
- Search Engine Optimization - We have worked with many Google products, (one of our founders is now a Level II Engineer for Google) and we offer nearly all available services from the search giant. We've worked hard to make sure they are all being utilized to direct the greatest amount of search engine ranking power to our website. All of these things combined helps our website to rank highly when you're searching for a web designer in each of the primary areas that we serve.
Pay Per Click
- Keywords - We not only put Search Engine Optimization to use but we've setup a massive Pay Per Click Advertising campaign with Google to ensure that our site link is visible to the broadest audience possible.
- Geo Targeting - We've found that many of our clients and potential clients are looking for someone relatively local that can meet with them face to face so we've focused most of our Search Engine Optimization and Pay Per Click campaigns in the local areas that we serve with sales staff. This allows us to drive the most qualified traffic to our website.
- Landing Pages - We've also taken advantage of landing pages; in fact, we have developed over 150 landing pages. A landing page is a page that includes content about a very specific topic and then we tie that landing page to our pay per click campaign so that when a user is searching for something very specific with the major search engines and they find our link, the link will take them to the landing page that includes this very specifically tailored content. This encourages users to stay on the website and dig deeper. We have several strategies that extensively deploy landing pages in combination with Pay Per Click campaigns so you can get the most out of your website.
- Taking Names - Our Email newsletter is full of great new ways to help you get the most out of your website, and the people that currently receive our newsletter can testify to that. We have an incredible click rate from our newsletter. So we wanted to expand the audience. At the very bottom of our new website, you'll find a newsletter sign-up box that will allow you to sign up to receive our email newsletter...even if you're not a client. Free tips from the pros that will help you get the most out of your website...sounds like a great idea!
- Matching Newsletter - With the new brand identity comes to a new logo and layout. We send out a regular newsletter with hints and tips to help our customers get the most out of their websites. So we custom designed an email newsletter layout that matches our website. This helps keep our brand identity consistent.
- Latest News and Tips & Resources Integration - We've setup content tagging within our latest news and tips & resources section to make them easier to use. In addition to that, when we send our newsletter we include links to our stories that drive users back to the website. Once those users are on the site, we want them to be able to easily find related stories. This new content tagging system allows them to easily find related information.
- Social Media Integration - Facebook and Twitter can be powerful sources of traffic. We've setup 'share on Facebook' and 'retweet' links on every major page of the website to encourage web users to share our information with others in their social networks. This makes our content viral and drives a lot of additional traffic to our website. Think of it like a word-of-mouth referral. We've just empowered our users to make that referral faster and easier.
- Support Center - Our 24/7 Online Support Center has been up for years, but we've never felt like we did a good job advertising the support center to our clients. We wanted to change that by putting it front and center in the new CSS Fader slide show on the home page. We'll also be working on revamping the look of the support center to match our new website (brand consistency...)
- Live Support Chat - One of the best, but least known features of our support center is the live support chat. We have Support Technicians online throughout the day and they are often available to chat with you live to help resolve problems quickly. So we integrated live support chat into our website too. At the very bottom of each page, you'll see a section for newsletter signup, RSS Subscription, and Live Chat. This box will tell you when our support guys are on Live Support Chat, and when it's best to submit a support ticket. We're always looking for great new ways to support our clients.
- Facebook- With very little effort we've amassed over 700 Facebook 'likes' and over 6000 followers on Twitter. But we quickly realized that there are a lot of Cybernautic followers (designers, clients, marketers, programmers, tech enthusiasts, etc...) that don't even know we're on Facebook and Twitter so we added the Facebook/Twitter icons to the top right of every page of the site to make it easier to find and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.
- Youtube/Vimeo - We've only added one video to the site as of launch, but we plan to add TONS of videos to the tips and resources articles as well as an annual demo reel to the portfolio section. Keep an eye out for a lot more web video integration as we continue to grow the website.
- RSS Feed Subscription - We've setup our Tips & Resources AND Latest News sections as blogs. This means you can subscribe to the RSS feeds for both of those sections so you always get the latest news OR you could stream those feeds into your own blog or website to keep your content current. Either way, we want to make it easy to get information out to people that want it and we felt like a blog format with an RSS feed was the best way to do it.
Overall we're pretty thrilled with the new website. We feel like it represents Cybernautic much better than the old site and we feel like it will help our customers a LOT more than the old site.
Tell us what you think. We'd love to post your feedback. Use the form below to tell us what you think! We'd love to hear what you like most about the new website.
By: Chad C. Parker (July 6, 2010)