Case Study: Aleppo Shriners Website Redesign
Recently, we were hired to create a new website for the Aleppo Shriners – one of the largest Shriner’s organizations in the country, located in Wilmington, MA. Their site, last copyrighted in 2006, was in desperate need of an update. After a few initial meetings, with Robert Baker, the Treasurer for the organization, and Chris Busby, a web developer who partnered with us for the project, we determined that the new site needed to reach a few different audiences: Shrine members, non-Shrine members and the general public for purposes of renting the Shriners’ Auditorium in Wilmington and for awareness of the Shrine Hospitals, located in Springfield and Boston, MA.
Ultimately, the project became four separate microsites, off the main domain, alepposhriners.com. Each site would be accessed by clicking the hamburger menu on each page, which would drop down a menu of the four microsites. We arrived at the solution of having four microsites from the different needs of each audience: the Shrine membership site needed to have pertinent information for members, such as dates, contact information and events; the non-Shrine member site needed to appeal to non-Shriners to entice them to join the organization; the auditorium needed to have information about the auditorium, it’s events, and how to hold an event there for the general public and the Shrine Hospitals microsite needed to have information about the hospitals, their mission and how to make a donation. The various needs determined the end result, which gave each audience its own experience without clouding the site with irrelevant information.
Seen below is the current final version of the homepage of the site after months of creative design and development. The final version of the site integrated social media through a social media aggregating plugin and a blog that featured mainly news items and newsworthy articles published in their printed newsletter. Fully responsive, unlike their previous website, the new site was prepared to reach younger audiences and was optimized for mobile devices.
Aleppo Shriners website homepage after our redesign.
The Shriners also wanted to go with a lighter color scheme, however, staying with the “Shriners’ Red”. We developed a somewhat primary color scheme for their new website that gives the entire website a lighter, “fun” yet elegant appearance – something that was very important to the Shriners’ leadership.
Use of Microsites
Each microsite’s homepage featured a hero image, something the previous site was lacking, and, depending on the microsite, either a news slider that rotated relevant news articles or content relative to the purpose of the microsite, as seen below on the “Become an Aleppo Shriner” homepage – here, the content is geared to visitors who may not know who the Shriners are or what they do. The site contains multiple calls-to-action, embedded videos, social media and more.
The hamburger menu on the far right, when clicked, a menu drops from the top of the site to navigate amongst the four different microsite, without needing to back out completely to the main splash page.
The Aleppo Shriners “Become an Aleppo Shriner” microsite homepage.
Integration of Social Media
Using a WordPress plugin called Juicer, we integrated the several social media accounts that the Aleppo Shriners and the Shriners’ Hospitals in Boston and Springfield were using. By adding their social posts to their website, both members and visitors are able to see the organization’s activities, news and events. It also serves as a method of keeping the site’s content fresh but constantly updating the social media feed as new posts are added.
Introduction of Video
We also recommended that the organization utilize video to help cater to audiences that prefer that as a medium in learning about subjects online. By strategically embedding video into pages, such as the “Become an Aleppo Shriner” homepage, seen below, our client is able to communicate more about their organization to potential members and communicate their mission in a different way. Other pages, such as the homepage for the “Shriners’ Hospitals”, uses video to drive home why the Shriners’ Hospitals are so important and why they should be supported.
Dynamic News & Post Carousel
One of the main objectives of this new site was to serve as a hub of information for members, while demonstrating to visitors that the organization is vital and active. To accomplish this, we employed a news/post carousel at the top of each of the home pages of each microsite. Here, the most important, relevant and timely information is seen first, while rotating through other potentially older or newer posts, highlighting upcoming events or meetings.
This method of handling and making upcoming events front and center worked particularly well on the “Shriners’ Auditorium” homepage. Here, the latest events are first, with the carousel cycling through upcoming events.
Optimized for Search Engines & Conversion
Finally, we ensured that the new site was optimized for search engines, such as Google and that the appropriate tracking mechanisms were setup to measure visits, visitor behavior and conversions. The previous website for the Aleppo Shriners had very few, if any, calls-to-action throughout their website making it difficult to track visitors and get them to take appropriate action. By including some strategically placed calls-to-action, with lead collection forms, the site was optimized for conversion – increasing their ability to collect potential members’ contact information, donation requests and general inquiries about the oganization.
The Aleppo Shriners found an increase of 133% in traffic in the first month once the new site was published back in June. The site’s bounce rate – the amount of people who visit the site but leave before interacting with it – decreased from 72% to 66% and with configuring Google Webmaster tools and switching to WordPress, visits from new visitors are up 6%. Ultimately, the Aleppo Shriners have a better online presence than before, with their site now featuring social media feeds, video and being built upon the WordPress framework.
Maintenance of the new website was also considered during its construction – allowing the ability to have multiple editors and contributors, freeing up the time of the webmaster, who was previously responsible for most of the content of the website.
“Getting a lot of positive feedback, so far” said Steve Eriksen, Secretary of the Aleppo Shriners Divan, shortly after the new site went live back in June.
We additionally created an HTML email template matching the look and feel of the new website for periodic member email blasts to help bring their email communication and online presence together.
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