Unique Monthly Views
*data varies over 5 years, 2009-2013
Rebuilding A Brand Strategy In Time Of Competitor Explosion
DriversEd.com helped lobby for regulation changes in the eLearning online courseware industry, being the one of the first successful driving schools to detour around classroom education and allow for the rules of the road to be taught on the interwebz.
Having no direct competition, the company thrived having spread to over 20+ states with multiple products per state since 1997. Until about 2009. Quite a few companies cropped up across the nation that had similar products with different business models and the competition began to chip away at the bottom line. “DrivesEd.com is a premium product. At that time, there was nothing premium about it in comparison.” DrivesEd.com had a leg up on everyone having been the only driving school to have In-Car Training and fleet on MINI Coppers across the nation. This helped immensely. The competition got to chomping at pieces of the company’s profit margin very quickly and the need to be in the lead, scalable and analytical got real.
Solid Engineering Foundation Leads to Scalable Product Development
After realizing that DriversEd.com had to be more aggressive, we decided to scrap the entire back-end and front-end and start from scratch. The goal was to connect the front-end and the back-end to allow to scalability and analytics funnels that can be tracked, reviewed and optimize for our users. We replaced the old tables with brand new CSS, HTML, JS, and ASP.Net back-end with a brand new shiny server and capabilities. We updated courseware to be more interactive, fun and available across all platforms and devices; that really helped to scale the site across multiple courses and products. Replaced all the images that were in print ready with brand new high-res images, updated all activities to be more user friendly, created 3D case studies that showcased real driving scenarios and really tested the user’s knowledge of the road without getting behind the wheel of a car just yet. All internal tools for CSR’s and sales were updated to be user-friendly and flexible, collect better analytics, and allow for unlimited testing and market disruption. We went from tracking bugs in an excel doc to implementing a full project management, release and bug tracking tool. All the tasks from design to implementation and deployment lasted about a year and a half.
An additional challenge was maintaining the current SEO legacy. Since 1997 the company has had fantastic organic SEO and we wanted to maintain that going forward into the new site. This meant creating and tracking multiple 301 redirects for over 15,000 pages for existing and new products all while creating a brand new platform and infrastructure.
Usability Testing and Getting to Know the “Why” of the Users
We first started with gathering all the information about our users since we were a nationwide product. Users in Texas versus users in California versus users in Georgia are very different. They have difference in their nomenclature and interactions within each state as well as demographics such as age, gender, socio-economic backgrounds, and mainly; reason for taking the course. After we researched the user profiles and we created user groups that we wanted to focus on in specific states for specific courses. We created quite a few lo-fidelity prototypes at first, then hi-fidelity prototypes for more complex interactions. Some where basic wireframes others were more interactive HTML that were handed out on devices to students and adults alike and asked various questions. In some cases we held small focus groups.
It was important to understand the 3 user groups. The primarily focus on the teen users whose sole goal was to learn and educate themselves about becoming a responsible driver. Adult users just wanted to hurry up and pass the traffic school, maybe get a good driver discount and to get on with their lives. Thirdly, mature seniors users who needed to verify their right to still drive and earn insurance discounts. After asking the right questions, doing the right usability surveys with the right demographic, we got quite a few answers to lots of questions which ended up making even more questions.
We rebuilt the entire site architecture and user flow to be more SEO and search friendly and especially flexible when it came to A/B and multivariate testing in Optimizely and other tools. Once the foundation was laid, design, development and QA came a lot quicker while working on multiple projects simultaneously. We had what you would call a waterfall project process and within the waterfront project there were multiple agile sprints that happen depending on the scale of the project. We first focused on top performers, the best states with the highest amount of visitors whose courses brought in the most revenue.
One mistake that we realized we had done was that we rolled out the entire site all at once instead of gradually, piece by piece. Having done that we ended up with too many bugs backlogged and too many things to fix all at once. it took about 5+ months to fix most everything and the traffic did continue to grow thanks in part to responsive courseware across the nation that was starting to really shine.
Research and Analytics Lead to Ideas and Discoveries
As the site continued to rebuild its SEO strength, we began to monitor the site through Crazy Egg, Optimizely, Adwords among others and constantly creating and testing new marketing pages to get that conversion.
Site traffic grew 25%, lowering bounce rate down to 25-40%, increasing session duration up to 70% and conversions by 1.9% over a period of 2 years.
The results were fantastic. In some cases up to 44% of users were starting their logged out experience and completing their course on mobile all the way through payment.
“…Single-handedly mapped out and delegated the process of redesigning and rebranding DriversEd.com. It was inspiring to watch…”
“…Consistency and ability to bring a fresh perspective to every idea. Strong collaborator, manager and a mentor to his team…”
“Owns a project…follows through…the type of manager who inspires and gets things done all while being friendly…creative and super diligent which is rare.”
“Uniquely balances the organizational requirements of being a manager with the highly creative needs of being an artist…”
“Disrupts status quo with unique ideas”
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