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Why We Blew Up the MarketingProfs Homepage: Behind the Scenes

by Ann Handley  |  
December 3, 2012

I just got back from an extended business trip to Istanbul, including a visit to the Grand Bazaar—one of the largest and oldest covered markets in the world, and widely considered to be a precursor to the US shopping mall. It's an impressive place, with 61 covered streets and over 3,000 shops selling everything from mugs to machetes to an estimated 250,000-400,000 visitors daily.

Inside the crowded marketplace, you get the sense that there's nothing you couldn't find there. The problem, of course, is not knowing where to look: The streets are choked and crowded, even in December's off-season. And the merchants shout at you from their individual stalls, clamoring for your attention with invitations like "Hallo! We can help you spend your money!" and "Good day! Come look!"

It's sensory overload, and unless you know exactly what you're looking for and who sells it, despair can set in.

I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that Istanbul's Grand Bazaar reminded me of the MarketingProfs homepage that was. In our case, there was nothing marketing-related that wasn't represented there. (Content marketing training? We've got that over here, lady! Stats on how small businesses are using social media? No problem! Come look!) But as in a colorful, crowded market... good luck finding it on what was our previous homepage.

Today, we've launched a far simpler and cleaner homepage that we think helps visitors make sense of MarketingProfs and directs them efficiently and easily to the content they are looking for.

The biggest change is this: The old MarketingProfs homepage was organized according to our business units, but the new homepage is organized according to the needs of a visitor or subscriber. In other words, the old MarketingProfs homepage was about us. But the new homepage, we hope, is squarely from the perspective of the site visitor.

Now, our homepage is all about you.

That sounds like a simple change, I know. But for a site with our longevity in online marketing—for one that's as topic-rich and content-dense as MarketingProfs—that's a surprisingly complex task!

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Ann Handley is chief content officer of MarketingProfs, author of Everybody Writes: Your Go-To Guide to Ridiculously Good Content, and co-author of the best-selling book on content marketing, Content Rules. Ann co-founded, one of the first sources of interactive marketing news and commentary.

Twitter: @MarketingProfs and @AnnHandley.

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  • by Hunter Boyle Mon Dec 3, 2012 via web

    Congrats to the Profs team on a job well done, both for executing a great user-centric design overhaul, and not simply posting that it happened but sharing the behind-the-scenes thinking.

    There are important lessons in this post for any business making major changes to a mature site, especially the user experience trumping the internal business unit method, evolving the design to fit a changing business model with new products and services, and emphasizing ease of use to navigate through a growing mountain of content.

    And as if all that wasn't enough, you've got the best lede I've ever read for a new homepage launch blog post. The Grand Bazaar and cluttered homepage analogy? Classic. Thanks for sharing!

    Cheers -- Hunter

  • by Ann Handley Mon Dec 3, 2012 via web

    Thanks much, Hunter. We're pretty happy with the results -- big ups go to our tech team, especially, for their vision and leadership. Oh -- and also Instanbul's Grand Bazaar itself, for offering up the obviously perfect analogy! (LOL)

  • by Chel Wolverton Tue Dec 4, 2012 via web

    It would be interesting if you could make the front page update with content related to the content most read on a user by user basis. That takes a lot of work and this is a great step on the path of doing that.

  • by Steve Lubahn Tue Dec 4, 2012 via web

    Ann, I notice the new site design this weekend and like the new approach! Agree with your comments on making the page less cluttered, if you focus on web visitor needs they will find the other content and look to newsletter signup or premium membership once they discover all the great research and articles on MarketingProfs.

    As a company that does a large number of new website releases each year, we typically find that with user interface design, simpler is better.

  • by Jody Pellerin Tue Dec 4, 2012 via web

    It looks great! I remember thinking the old one was a little cluttered but figured you were about due for a redesign anyway. It still looks a little busy but much more organized with the clearly labeled blocks.

    Thanks for all the great material you send out.

  • by Suzanne Morikawa Tue Dec 4, 2012 via web

    Congratulations to your whole team on a great redesign. Especially love this article explaining the back story and reasoning behind the redesign, especially opening with the picture of a busy Istanbul market as a comparison! I like the new design much better because it feels more inviting to click on the content. The smaller top menu also makes it much easier to navigate to the section I'm looking for quicker.

  • by Dan Thu Dec 6, 2012 via iphone

    It's really a good news for visitors. Thanks for the change with user in mind.

  • by mkbcmyk Thu Dec 6, 2012 via web

    Not a huge fan. I'm not saying the old homepage didn't need to be updated. But the new one is overly simplified. Displaying 9 items at a time on a homepage is not a design solution, it's a design cop-out. Please, please try again and do some usability studies this time.

  • by Stephanie Thu Dec 6, 2012 via web

    The new layout is beautiful and easy to navigate. Not sure I'm in love with the old-school banner ad at the very top, though.

  • by Roy van Broekhuizen Sun Jan 13, 2013 via web

    Any recommendations for website designers?

  • by Andre B. Fri Apr 12, 2013 via web

    Just a thought and not to sound negative, but as a marketing resource for thousands of marketers, shouldn't the website have already been designed for the reader in mind and not to about you. Just saying.

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