Main Street Kent is a non-profit organization that focuses on the promotion, beautification, and revitalization of downtown Kent. The City of Kent, Kent State University, local businesses, and community members support Main Street Kent. Main Street Kent has 12 board members and many volunteers working to improve downtown Kent. Since Main Street Kent’s formation in 2006, dozens of new businesses have opened in downtown Kent, and a hundreds of new full-time and part-time jobs have been created. For every dollar Main Street Kent spends, $27 is returned in private investment.
Main Street Kent works to strengthen and beautify downtown Kent while fostering economic development, historic preservation, and a sense of community.
Main Street Kent’s old website was in need of revitalization. They needed a new, responsive website with ecommerce functionality. This required design & development as well as server, data & email migration.
Website Analysis and Information Architecture
We began the process by analyzing all of the content and copy and search engine analytics. We eliminated all redundant or buried pages, scraped all content from the old website, and constructed a more organized site structure by defining strict categorization rules. Once we developed the new sitemap and structure, we wrote SEO rewrites for old pages (either ones that were eliminated or ones with messy URLs) to the new, SEO-friendly URLs. This would be integrated at the very end of the project.
When the client first approached us, they considered using Squarespace for the website. After reviewing analytics, we noticed that Main Street Kent received a great deal of unique daily visitors to the website. Using this data, we decided early on to use popular CMS, WordPress and WooCommerce for shopping cart functionality. WordPress and a dedicated server would allow more control of SEO and would improve site load times due to the amount of traffic they were already receiving. We chose WordPress for a number of other reasons: client familiarity played the largest role, but so did cost. Rather than develop a CMS and/or a theme from scratch, we could begin rapid development from a skeleton theme. This saved a substantial amount of money and time.
With information architecture and the sitemap laid out, we started front end design on the website. Since we used a responsive skeleton theme to save cost, we already had a baseline responsive grid to from which to design. It was important to have a seamless user experience between pages, categories, and product pages. The homepage needed to direct the user to popular pages for dining, shopping and event destinations. The client also asked that fundraising pages were placed prominently in the header, body, and footer.