Late last year I talked about my plans to create a better online store in 2023 and as part of that process I’ll also be refreshing this website. In fact, today I’ve started with a few minor tweaks and before I get too far in the process, I want to explain what changes I am making and why.
The lifespan of a website
Many people will create a website at the start of their journey and then add content to it for years to come, without questioning if the website does the job it needs to do today.
My first website for The City of Games had one purpose, give people a place to learn about my upcoming board game The City of Kings.
My second website for The City of Games was designed to promote 2 or 3 games and give me a platform to share news.
A few more years have passed and I now have 5 games, many of those games have several expansions, and I hope to have even more games soon. I’ve also started adding resources such as online rulebooks, FAQs, replacement services, and this blog. In fact, the website has grown to over 350 articles and pages and that is all squashed into a design that was planned for much less.
Do I think the current website does a bad job? Not at all, I just think it could present my games and other content in a better way and be easier to use.
A website isn’t just about functionality, when I first launched this website my focus was on board game hobbyists. I’ve typically focussed on people who are familiar with board games, would have heard of Board Game Geek, and know what a Rodney Smith is.
Now my games have moved to a much wider audience, for instance, you can walk into Target and pick up a copy of The Isle of Cats.
It’s time for my website to be more accessible to everyone and a big part of this is copywriting, content optimisation, and presenting the right options at the right time.
The current approach has been making sure everything a seasoned gamer needs is there to be found on the first screen. My new approach won’t remove all that information, but it will put it behind an extra layer, meaning newer gamers won’t be overwhelmed by unnecessary options.
Effectively, presenting the information everyone needs up front and then designing a simple journey for those who want to dive deeper.
Learning and adapting
I design games for a living and a big part of the design process is watching what people do and refining the game design.
Websites are no different and it has been too long since I’ve studied how people are using my website, what unexpected things they are doing, and how I can improve that.
Here is an example I discovered this morning:
500 people a month are searching for “The Isle of Cats big box” and being presented with a page on my website as the first result.
However, this page isn’t the page I would assume people were landing on, in fact it is the announcement news article from 10 months before the Big ‘2-minute’ Box was available to buy.
The article includes all the information someone would need but talks about it as an upcoming thing.
Today I edited the article so that it clearly says the box is now available and has a link to where it can be purchased.
For most people, they’ll never know these changes have been made. For me however, by spending a few hours looking through my website traffic I’ve been able to discover 6 unexpected points of high entry and have adjusted those pages to better help people arriving there.
I’m now going to move onto larger changes which will take a little while and once they are finished, I’ll be writing up what has changed, why, and any interesting things I learned along the way.
Are there any publishers you feel do a particularly good job with their website?