Business improvement starts at home for Downtown New Westminster BIA
When public outreach on behalf of a business membership is your organization’s mandate, improving an outdated website is top of the list. At least it was for the Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Association (Downtown New West BIA), whose five-year-old Joomla site required more than just a fresh coat of paint. The site was in need of new tools and functionality to allow staff to effectively to manage its growing body of content.
It also needed to be responsive, with more than half of its traffic coming from mobile devices. “The old website wasn’t easy to use and it wasn’t responsive,” said Kendra Johnston, Executive Director of the Downtown New West BIA. “Five years ago the majority of our traffic came from desktops, but now the vast majority is from mobile devices. That was a major impetus for the redesign.”
The Challenge - Managing daily content updates and leveraging content effectively
Content is “super important” to the BIA, but managing it had been difficult. With much of the site dedicated to user generated content in the form of business profiles and event listings, Johnston was deluged with constant requests for updates. And it wasn’t easy for her to make them. She needed a more robust content management system and editorial workflow that would make moderating content faster and more efficient.
“Members could submit event or business listings, but there was no easy way for me to approve them and get them posted. I would have to copy and paste that info, and I kept thinking ‘there’s got to be a better way’. With 400 business members, it’s a lot to maintain and it’s always changing -- businesses leave or close, and a lot of new businesses open. People want their listings updated regularly,” she said, adding that she receives several requests per week for updates to business profile listings and that she adds new event listings daily.
The organization had also recently launched a new content strategy, and wanted a way to showcase its blog content and to integrate social media into the site.
The Solution - New categories, calendar, and social integration
Working in partnership with Techno Monkey Media, Mugo developed a new site for the Downtown New West BIA that met all of its criteria: it’s responsive, it makes daily maintenance easy, it’s got a fresh and up-to-date design, and it allows the BIA to organize content in more enticing ways.
With more than 400 members, the BIA has a large directory of businesses to maintain and showcase on the site. But it was looking for a more enticing way to present the directory listings.
“The business directory was a major focus point,” said Johnston, adding that rather than having a traditional business directory, “we broke it down into eight categories and made it very visible on home page. It’s more enticing than just clicking on a boring business directory.”
Borrowing from traditional publishers' creative approach to content, the BIA adopted categories like Eat, Shop, Play, and Stay (rather than Restaurants, Stores, and Hotels) to highlight its business members. This was part of its content strategy to appeal to its primarily female audience.
On the back end, eZ Publish makes it faster and easier for Johnston to publish new content and moderate user submissions. Rather than copying and pasting updates from e-mail messages, user submissions go directly into the CMS, and she can edit and publish quickly and easily. “It’s a lot more functional to be able to post an event with just a couple of clicks,” Johnston said.
The BIA’s events calendar is a well-trafficked part of the site, with 5,000 visits per month. But Johnston wanted to give it more prominence and functionality. “We wanted to make sure it was really visible from home page,” she said.
They also needed to make it easier for members to post recurring events. “It used to be more complicated to create a recurring event. One member has a craft fair that’s on the 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month. It was complicated for them to figure out how to list this.”
Mugo created a custom calendar for the BIA that enables various combinations of event listings, including the ability to create recurring events. “We created a mechanism for adding recurring events that can accomplish anything you can imagine,” said Doug Plant, Mugo’s Client Engagement Manager. “You can also create event exceptions, which was a real problem on the old site.”
Social media and newsletter integration
With a new marketing strategy showcasing business and lifestyle content in New Westminster, the BIA was gaining traction on social media channels, and wanted to integrate them into the site.
“We had simple buttons linking to our social media channels on the old site, but we wanted a deeper integration with our Instagram channel because we’ve built up a good following there.”
Mugo built on Instagram’s API to create a beautiful feature section that pulls images from the BIA’s Instagram channel.
It also created an e-newsletter sign-up form for the site, which is integrated with the BIA's newsletter in MailChimp.
A third integration involves Google Maps, to provide visual directions to member businesses.
The Result - More traffic, more click-throughs, more enjoyment
The new BIA site has seen a 15% increase in traffic since its launch in October 2016, and its bounce rate (the number of people leaving after visiting only one page) has decreased by 5%. “People are spending more time on our site and viewing more pages, so obviously the experience of exploring our site is more enjoyable,” said Johnston, adding that they’re also seeing more click-throughs on the business directory now that it’s more visual. “Before, we had to rely too heavily on driving traffic through social media.”
Johnston said she’s had nothing but positive feedback from her members, and adds that she enjoyed the process of developing the new site. “I love working with the team at Mugo,” she said. “I've been happy with the whole process. They are super helpful and they talk to me in a way that I can understand, which is important. And they are super responsive whenever I have questions!”
With a future-proof site and on-going support from Mugo, the Downtown New West BIA now has a solid framework for a continued evolution of its web presence, and will easily be able to stay up to date as it follows the evolution of its community.
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