The Central Lakes Trail is a popular path for cyclists traveling between Fergus Falls and Osakis. The trail website is very helpful for anyone planning a ride or looking for a stop nearby. However, the website was too static and didn't serve mobile users to the full potential.
With the main user group constantly on the move, the site needed to be redesigned with a mobile first approach. The new site would also have to be fast. Cyclist and joggers in more remote areas of the trail could experience slower connection speeds.
A new structure would also be needed to make the content more dynamic. The old content was too static and difficult to update for the client. Along with making it easier to add more relevant content, the new structure would need to be easier to read for search engines.
We started with the Genesis framework as the backbone of the site. It is secure, fully responsive, and great for search engine optimization.
To make the content more manageable, we set up custom post types, taxonomies (e.g. categories), custom fields, and content templates. In short, the client could now focus on quickly entering in new content and it would all show up in the right places and in the right format on the front end. For the visitor, it made it easy to find what they wanted.
We were also excited to add a dynamic map that filters automatically upon selection of a category.
Once we finished up the design, we had to fine-tune the page speed. We custom coded a lot of the basic functionality, deferred unnecessary scripts, set up server-side caching, and minified the finished code.
Even with all those tweaks, large images could create a major slowdown. To prevent a mammoth-sized images, all images uploaded by the client would be resized and compressed automatically.
There's a lot more in the nerdy details of this process, but the end result is what's important.
total page size
Each town along the trail got its own page that pulled in all news, events, and attractions relevant to that area.
search engine optimization
The new structure made it simple for each engines to understand content entries on their own and how they related as a group. There was a lot more content after the redesign, but it was simple to understand.
Additionally, a sitemap was created that serves as the blueprint to the website. The sitemap was submitted directly to Google, Bing, and Yahoo! so they know exactly where to find all of the content and when there is new content.
total traffic up 78%
search traffic up 175%
bounce rate down 24%