ComedySportz in Manchester recently had a web design relaunch to showcase their comedy shows and workshops across the North West. I’m one of the players, so it was important to make the online presence reflects the right balance of fun and professionalism.
The new website design is ‘sporting’ a customised version of the WordPress twenty seventeen theme, which is the most feature packed in-house theme that WordPress have created (before they launch WordPress 5 sometime this year). There’s a host of plug-ins all playing nicely together here. Jetpack for social media and sharing, My calendar for events and Yoast SEO for Search engine optimisation. I’ve made plenty of changes to the theme and stylesheet in order to make the site look consistent.
WordPress works well out-of-the-box, but once you have more than a handful of plugins installed there’s a risk of ‘Frankenstein’s’ website. This is when layout and fonts begin to look inconsistent. Even with the most user-friendly plugins, I find hands-on coding is required two smooth out the look and feel, so the user experience is solid.
I was recently asked to modify a site which used a full theme overhaul. It basically added hundreds of shortcodes to style boxes and buttons. While the design looked great the dashboard and page editor became a nightmare to use – and I could only imagine a someone with developer level skills being able to modify it. To me this isn’t what WordPress is about. The real goal is to have a well designed layout and comfortable user experience so that a designer can allow any client to update a website themselves, regardless of technical knowledge. So, it frustrates me when I see plug-ins written by technical people that can unfortunately only be used by technical people. I digress.
I love the twenty seventeen theme. It can use video for it’s header (supporting MP4 video or youtube) and the homepage sections are a great way to manage content without having to duplicate sections of pages. As I mentioned, behind the scenes is yoast SEO which is one of the most popular search engine optimisation plugins. It’s really easy to understand and though it’s time consuming to create good content that reads well, the keyword and readability tools are really helpful.
With this site clarity was key, ComedySportz or CSZ to be more specific, have many shows and workshops and users need to find this information at a glance.
I’ve had a couple of clients recently who told me they’ve had increased traffic to their websites after relaunching. In both cases I put it down to Google’s second ‘mobilegeddon’. This was in 2016 when google revised it’s intention to prioritise smartphone surfing over desktop browsing. Older sites which aren’t responsive are beginning to suffer so it’s important to update your website if you haven’t already.