New portfolio launch + a breakdown of what’s been done & why
Over the past couple of weeks I have been analyzing what’s been working for my freelance business, and what hasn’t, and there’s been one conclusion that I’ve come – my previous website was not optimized for customer acquisition.
The old layout was visually appealing, and had a lot of nice features, but it was not built with the customer in mind. It was made for other people to look at and think it was nice, but then move on without getting in touch.
As a freelancer, my business survives on clients, and unfortunately, my old layout was not getting new client contacts like it should have been.
So, over the past couple of days, I’ve been working on the redesign of my portfolio, with a clearer focus on showcasing my work, and getting new contacts, and it reflects in the new design.
I want to break down a few of the things I’ve done to simplify the process and bring the site to a new level, from the choice in the name, the minimalist style, and the placement of call to actions.
What’s in a name?
One of the main things I contemplated when working on the redesign was the name that shows up on the screen. Yes, my website is Made by Guerrilla, but as a freelancer, I feel that the “Guerrilla” logo gave off the vibe of a company, rather than the one-man show I am.
So I made the decision to axe the Guerrilla logo and change it out with my actual name. This will, I hope, let visitors of my portfolio instantly know they’re dealing with one person instead of an entire company.
And since I was creating a cleaner, more minimalist website design, I wanted to ensure that there was still some sort of edge to my portfolio, so I made my name grungy, which lets it pop off of the screen.
I tried various different fonts but ended up using the amazing Againts font from Pixel Buddha.
As time goes on, I’ll gauge the responses to the new setup for the personal name compared to the “Guerrilla” name, and see if it’s the positive change that I hope for it to be.
Old vs New – homepage
Arguably the most important section of a freelancers website, the home page is what we send potential clients to, and when the home page isn’t optimized to get the viewer to funnel through to your inbox with a project, it’s not doing it’s job.
And my home page was horrible when it comes to user flow.
Out of every 1,000 visitors to my home page, 97% of them left the website without going to any other pages.
That’s not good.
One thing I realized was that I was showing off a lot of information on the home page. The entire above-the-fold area was just a large intro box, and then below it was a section to show off the WordPress services I offer.
Heading further down the page was a section for recent work – but there were only 3 projects shown, which didn’t give an accurate overview of the various design styles I’m able to create.
Below that was an attempt to get my home page to work as a driving engine for SEO purposes to my blog, and featured four recent blog posts.
Then, and only then, was there a spot for you to click a button and go to my contact page. The only clear call to action on the entire page, and it was at the very bottom of the page.
Again, that’s not good.
So with the new design I planned out how I wanted to give users an easier way to contact me. The goal was to give people landing on the home page only two options – view my work, and contact me.
As you can seen from the side-by-side comparison below, I tightened everything up and made the goal of the page clear – view my work and then get in touch.
Beside the entirely new design for the site being more minimalist, I wanted to ensure that the page didn’t too many leaks of traffic off the home page.
If you look at the new home page you’ll see that there’s no navigation links and no mention of a blog at all.
This was deliberate, and I believe this will help funnel the user down the relatively short home page to the contact form and leave them less time to get overwhelmed with what’s on the page, before contacting me.
My previous website design was built cleanly and actually loaded fairly quick, but this time around I wanted to make sure it was even faster. With Google making load speed a factor in search rankings, it’s only obvious that we should be getting our websites to load faster, right?
Beside the SEO benefits, I want the visitors of my site to see something near-instantly, because our attention spans are smaller than they ever have been, and I don’t want to lose potential business because things are taking too long to load.
When running the speed tests, the biggest thing holding up the speed is the amount of time it takes to connect to my domain – over 50% of the time is currently devoted to it.
I plan on looking for ways to fix this, so the speed will eventually get under 1 second, which I feel is goal I can hit.
Old vs New – blog
Another section I wanted to make sure was set up right for client acquisition was the blog. The blog and all single posts are the second largest entry point of the site, so I had to figure out how to leverage that properly.
The first thing I did was ensure that the design was clean and easy to read. The old design had really large “featured images” showing, which pushed all of the text down the page.
The new version no longer shows those images, which makes it easier to scroll through the page and find an article you want to read.
It also helps the page load faster since there’s no excessively large images to load.
The next thing I focused on was pairing down the sidebar. The old design had a lot of information in it – a couple CTA’s, a rotating testimonials box, recent blog posts, etc.
The new version now only has one thing – a GET A FREE QUOTE box, with the form showing directly in it, taking away the ‘click to go to the contact page’ step that isn’t really needed here, lowering the barrier to my inbox.
A cool feature that I set up with the sidebar box is that it’s stuck to the screen, so no matter how far down you scroll, you have the box in your peripheral.
This was made possible by using the Q2W3 Fixed Widget plugin for WordPress.
One thing I kept away from on my portfolio was having a newsletter. I always felt like the CTA’s should be for contacting me, and not signing up for a newsletter that they might, possibly, if they feel like it, open up from time to time.
I’ve switched my mindset on this a bit and will be testing out the effectiveness of a newsletter for client acquisition throughout the next few months.
How I’m doing this is adding a box to the end of each blog post that asks for your name and email address in exchange for an e-book that gives you marketing tips for your blog.
Simple, but (hopefully) effective at landing contact details of visitors who would otherwise read a blog post and then leave, never to return again.
The newsletter will not be outwardly promoting my services, so subscribers don’t have to fear a ton of emails about discounts, deals, etc. The content will be built for bloggers looking to grow their blog through various channels, and the tips I learn and share along the way.
By building the trust and authority for my name in this market, I hope to get sales funneling in from people who enjoy my tips and eventually decide, on their own, that it’s time for a new blog design and they will only get it created by the best – me 🙂
Focusing on results
This relaunch is just the first step in a long line of tests and adjustments I will be making to my portfolio in order to get the absolute best conversion rate.
The ultimate goal of any freelance portfolio should be to drive sales, and the only way to do that is to get your visitors to actually contact you.
I believe I have taken the site in the right direction to make this happen, with the visible call to action on the Blog page and the paired down version of the home page.
Only time will tell, and I am sure that I’ll be changing out items from time to time in order to maximize the websites potential for customer acquisition.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my new design, and if there’s anything you’d do different.
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