Hello there! I’m Andrew, the newest designer at Crew.
I’m part of our growing remote team and am based out of sunny/snowy Denver, Colorado.
I’ve been with Crew for a little over a month now and will be focusing on some new projects in the near future. But during my initial time here I’ve been focusing on the iterative improvements to our brand and site—the small changes that make everything ‘Crew’ feel more cohesive and connected.
Iterative improvements are nothing new. They’re part and parcel of the philosophy behind a minimum viable product. You start with something that works and continue to build on it. What’s important is that each iteration serve a purpose and doesn’t add cruft.
While we iterate all the time with our web app, I’ve been focused on updating our marketing efforts by:
- Reviving and updating our success stories
- Setting up better social tracking/engagement on our Blog and Backstage
- Making updates to our newsletter
- Working on the main presentation/messaging of the Crew site
Reviving our success stories
We have a ton of awesome success stories at Crew and we’re working on building a better platform to showcase them—one that will allow new and returning users to dig deeper into stories that are the most relevant to their ideas and projects.
After a brief hiatus, we’ve ramped up the publication of our stories and are shooting for a new story every two weeks.
Here’s a look at some of the most recent ones:
Setting up social measurements
Here be analytics!
On our blog and backstage posts we had sharing buttons at the top and bottom of posts, but we weren’t tracking how those were being used (and how we could optimize them in the future). I worked on a two-part shift to remedy that while also updating their presentation.
The first order of business was setting up tracking of outgoing links into three Event categories:
- Outgoing Links: to see where users are headed after the page they’re on
- Social – Header: these are tracking only the social links at the top of a post
- Social – Footer: these are tracking only the social links at the bottom of a post
It was important to me to be able to distinguish between the top and bottom social events because we want to begin to iterate on their presentation such that they become as useful as they can be without resorting to some over-the-top-in-your-face social elements.
The second order of business was to update the presentation of the top elements. Our blog editor Jory wrote about this change in his May Dispatch. We’re just barely over a month into tracking the actual numbers, but all things considered, neither the top or bottom are being used all that much. The Twitter button in the footer is the most used integration so far, but it’s barely scratching 200 unique events.
The save buttons at the top were primarily an experiment. I wanted to see if we could better track article saves to Instapaper, Pocket, Readability, or Pinboard. While the function works great, from the beginning I wasn’t sure if it was going to be popular. It seems that most people using these services (myself included) rely on bookmarklets or browser extensions to save the content.
I think Jory’s also correct in noting the following:
The only problem is it’s almost too aesthetically pleasing. There’s no Twitter or Facebook blue. You have to click to get to the actual sharing buttons. And when it comes to getting people to do things online you need to make it as easy as possible.
I want to leave this iteration up for another month to see if the analytics provide any more insights or epiphanies for us, but I’ve no doubt our next iteration of these utilities will be more prototypical.
Updating the newsletter
The Crew Blog newsletter received a fresh design last month, so we weren’t ready to make any changes on that end. I did, however, work on making the sign-up and confirmation process a bit more branded. We updated the cosmetics of our confirmation emails to look a bit more friendly and a bit more Crew.
This isn’t really a trackable change, but should be working towards providing a little more brand familiarity and friendliness during the newsletter process.
Frequent visitors may notice a slight change on the Blog and Backstage posts in the form of a fixed header. It’s slightly smaller than the header on our marketing site and contains a form to signup for the newsletter.
Thanks to Mailchimp, this is a trackable change and we’re now monitoring and comparing the amount of signups that occur in the fixed header versus the form at the bottom of posts. It’s still way too soon to dig into those metrics, but we’re excited to see what effect this update has.
Giving our marketing site some love
What do you guys do?
My main project the last few weeks has been refreshing the design and content of our marketing pages to better answer some of the more frequently asked questions.
Despite having a homepage and How it works subpages that try to explain this, “What do you guys actually do?” is a really common question we get. How it works has a bounce rate of about 50% for this year and deeper navigation from the main How it works page is only about 17%.
So, to work on remedying this, I came up with the following problems on the current iteration:
- It warrants exploration, but doesn’t feel overly inviting
- Our typography could use some refinement to bring in a bit more friendliness and readability
- The navigation isn’t working and should either follow you down the page or be nixed altogether
- The content isn’t clear as to where the user is headed next. A link that reads “Read About Submissions” vs. “Learn More” communicates much more to the user
We’re still in the middle stages of a design process and not quite ready to show anything yet, but the end goal is to simplify and remedy all of this—making it much, much easier to learn about Crew and the process behind a project.
Meanwhile our excellent support staff is busy creating a more comprehensive and easier-to-use FAQ section, so expect some more clarity all around in the very near future.
It’s always helpful to remember that design is a process and one part of that process is studying your data and enabling yourself to gather the information you need to make better decisions.
Iterative improvements can often be made better and faster with the appropriate statistics guiding them.
Thanks for tuning in—I hope some of this was helpful!