I have had the very great fortune of being chosen by Mara Leveritt for her website redesign.
Mara is an award winning journalist and author of several books – most notably, Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the West Memphis Three and most recently, Dark Spell: Surviving the Sentence.
Mara has had and maintained a website for many years, and had recently had her site redesigned and rebuilt by a company that specializes in social media engagement and search engine marketing.
I don’t mean this to bash that company or speak ill of them in any way. They seem like nice people and I’m confident they do a good job for their clients.
But this was not a good fit for Mara.
First, they moved her off of the WordPress platform that she knew and was comfortable with.
Second, they provided no assistance or training for the CMS they used, Adobe Business Catalyst.
Third, the site simply didn’t function well. Simple, basic things like wrapping text. Uploading photos. Formatting type. Things that Mara could do easily and efficiently in WordPress were seemingly impossible.
Forth, and probably most importantly, the person that had sold Mara on this particular company – her account executive – no longer worked there. Mara didn’t have an advocate at the company anymore and her needs weren’t being addressed in a timely or effective way.
So after a couple of months of struggles and frustration, I was called. I evaluated the site, listened to Mara’s wants and wishes and needs, and got busy with a website redesign.
This is how it turned out.
Mara’s wish list was pretty straightforward. She wanted to feature her books with links to buy them on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. She wanted good, highly functional blog with all her archived content in place, sorted and categorized appropriately. Social engagement needed to be functional and easy for the reader to engage. The navigation needed to be clear and intuitive. The site needed good Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and functional analytics (Via Google Analytics). And it needed to be pretty.
In the course of doing some research, I found some great videos of Mara giving speeches and presentations, so we included those on the site.
The site is still somewhat a work in progress – not from a development or design standpoint, but from a features and content standpoint.
All in all, it has been a successful website redesign and a gratifying project to work on. I’m very pleased with how the project turned out.
* Full disclosure: Mara Leveritt is a dear friend.