Case Study by Aimee Wood RGD, Graphic Designer at 52 Pick-Up Inc.
Canal’s Landing is a residential development project in Airdrie, Alberta that launched publicly in 2013. The marketing of Canal's Landing was being handled by one of our developer clients, Genesis Land Development Corp., for whom I had worked on ads, a main brochure and the presentation centre. Being familiar with the project and the client, it was a natural fit for me to design the website.
For the launch of the Canal’s Landing community and show homes, a simple webpage was created which served for the first few months of home sales. Following the initial launch, the client felt that there should be more engagement with online audiences and an increase in the number of unique visitors to the site. To accomplish this, they decided a website redesign with enhanced content, more dynamic visuals and a stronger online presence overall was needed.
The main audience for this website is young families who live or work in Calgary and are potential home buyers. Because Canal’s Landing is about 25 minutes outside of the city, it is ideal for those who are looking for an affordable home in a residential community.
Based on the client's needs, a content strategy was created for the website that would incorporate important information that a first-time home buyer needs to know as well as highlight interesting facts and stories about the area.
The content strategy included detailed information about each of the builders involved, a site plan of the development, images of the show homes and information about the benefits associated with living in Canal's Landing.
The original site was very basic. For the initial launch we had designed a homepage with a link to a registration form, a main image and price-points, so the redesign involved developing an entirely new site, which was coded using WordPress.
Ultimately there were three goals for this project: to drive potential buyers to the builders' show homes, to grow online registration for individuals interested in receiving further information and to encourage return visits to the website by providing engaging, relevant content.
To help achieve these goals, a blog was developed to help users learn more about the community by curating 36 mini profiles. When the site launched in mid-February, the blog was pre-populated with six articles, with two to three articles to be added each week afterward. Blog content included a spotlight on each builder and profiles of area schools, golf courses, restaurants and other amenities, as well as information about the community that potential buyers might be interested to know.
For the content strategy of the website, the team conducted preliminary research and pitched an editorial calendar to the client. After this was approved, the development team and myself were briefed on the project and the design process was started. The collaborative effort involved creating wireframes, choosing images and designing an aesthetically pleasing website that seamlessly integrated the mini profiles, while maintaining current brand standards.
The entire site is fully responsive, meaning that it was designed and programmed to work on multiple screens, including smaller sizes such as tablets and mobile phones. The content is essentially the same across all platforms, appearing the same on desktops and tablets. For mobile devices, the layout was modified to be more intuitive for mobile users and to optimize the screen size, and some of the additional information / content that did not display well on a smaller screen was not included.
Google Analytics was used to track the progress and success of the site. We measured the analytics at the beginning of January to have an idea of how many visitors were coming to the site before the redesign and then measured them on a weekly basis from the launch of the new site until May 1st. Within the first month after the redesigned website’s launch, the number of visitors increased 44%, with 22% more unique visitors and an increase of 245% for page views.
- Working within a small budget can be challenging. Even if the client isn't looking for a complicated website, the content still needs to be substantial enough to keep visitors engaged. When resources are limited it's not necessarily about creating more content, but about crafting a site that is visually engaging with relevant information that is easy to find. People need to know where to find what they're looking for and recognize that it is worth their time.
- Keep in mind that images and information will need to be adjusted for smaller screens. If you're planning to create a mobile version of a client's website, consider streamlining the design to include only the most important information.
- To compensate for a limited photography budget, it can be helpful to reuse images from other projects you have worked on for the same client. In this case, images from the client's brochure, advertisements and signage were used on the redesigned website.
- Being organized and discussing key components up-front will make for a much smoother process. Making important decisions at the initial meeting will ensure everyone is on the same page moving forward and that everyone involved is using their time and resources as efficiently as possible.
- Constant communication is key. Checking in with other people involved in the project on a regular basis will help ensure that deadlines are met and goals are reached. Staying informed about the project's status should be a priority.