This past May I was asked to help out with a struggling website.

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History of US_Wings.com

The site, has been in existence and selling leather jackets online for over two decades.  As of January 2014, it was still a very old HTML and ASP(microsoft techology) website with a significant levels of patches and updates on the shopping cart.  It needed an upgrade, there was actually no choice.

Links

Over the 20 years in online business, there is a significant build up of URLs (pages and images) in their existing website.   These pages end up getting linked from a variety of other websites for a variety of great marketing reasons.  Making sure these items maintain links in the new website was of high importance.

SEO

Again, with 20 years of history, Google gave a decent amount of credence to the website.  With their longevity so long, and the content so specific, their rankings were high.  Mind you, there was a significant drop over the past 3 years as Google launched the Penguin and Panda search engine algorithm updates, but they were still successful.

Failure To Launch

A development firm (not me) was asked to help relaunch the website using the WordPress Content Management System, and utilize the WooCommerce Ecommerce Tool.  This project lasted from October through February 28th, 2014.  A new WordPress site was launched on March 1st, 2014. The delivery was not up to the expectations of the client.

Site traffic dropped and sales fell off a cliff. Ugh.

The new site did not perform well for a number of reasons:

  • The out of the box template was ugly, poorly colored, had terrible spacing, and bad font choices.
  • The site ran extremely slow
  • Javascript code that displayed and hid the ADD TO CART button did not always work.
  • Pages did not contain proper titling and descriptions for SEO purposes
  • The Checkout Page was hard to read.

All of these items together made for a bad experience for the USWings staff and ownership.

A Plan to Save the Website

My first meeting with USWINGS was the last day of April, 2014.  I had reviewed the ugly new site and saw the extensive list of errors, poor page load time, extensive unused plugins and faulty code.

  1. My first effort was to stabilize the website with a few simple changes, including cleaning up the 1.5″ of blank space under their logo occupying valuable space.  I also fixed some hard to read text.  Small things, but it made the customer happy out of the gate.
  2. I then switched to grabbing the entire site (the site database and the file set) and readying it on a new server.
  3. Working with USWINGS we decided on using the hosting servers at WP Engine.  WP Engine focuses on serving only wordpress sites and optimizes page caching, offering a free easy to set up test and development area, and incredible service.
    My next step was to clean out the superfluous plugins.  I am a big proponent of keeping things simple.  I don’t like overusing WordPress plugins because they

    1. are confusing
    2. add a layer of complexity and insecurity
    3. can slow down the server speed
    4. can slow down the browser display speed.
    5. I cleaned out 10 plugins out of 40.  The rest I needed to investigate.
  4. I added a search engine optimization plugin and started to add new page titles and descriptions to the various pages.
  5. I then removed the horrible template built in Vietnam, and implemented a new template based on the extremely versatile Genesis Framework from StudioPress.  This effort included custom colors, design borrowed from sites suggested by the client, and allowed the increased customization of components of the shopping cart.

All in all, over 100 different line items were delivered in fixes, changes, and updates to bring

Results

I am pleased to say that by the end of my turn around project at the beginning of August, sales were up (even up for the off season of summer) , site traffic was way up and traffic patterns started surpassing those of their competitors.

I was pleased to see this third party confirmation of our work: The green line below is the Alexa’s Traffic Rank for USWINGS.com in comparison to its competitors.  Notice the turn around the day I started.

comparisons via alexa

Overall, I am extremely pleased with the success of this project, and wish USWings the best of luck as they transition into making continuous marketing updates to their site.

And, by the way, they’re great people, and their jackets are AMAZING.

 

 

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