DriversEd.com reBranded Responsive Site Design

Rebuilding A Brand Strategy In Time Of Competitor Explosion

Drivers at.com was a labor of love. The company started in 1997 and was doing amazingly because no one had the same technology as them for online courseware and they had been doing long tail SEO before that was a thing racking up well over 15,000 landing pages. Management lobbied to change the laws across the states to let teens take drivers ed courses on their respective devices instead of going to the DMV and follow up sale with scheduling in-car driving lessons. Around 2009 when the tech bubble was starting to really blow up, other competitors like Lynda.com, DMV.org, and iDriveSafely.com started to catch on the online courseware world. Seeing that DrivesEd.com paved the way for everyone else jump on their tailcoats and start to chip away at a premium products bottom line.

When I began at DriversEd.com there was no trackable project management, an excel sheet for bug tracking, and no standardization of any sort across the brand mediums. That’s why you would see print CMYK logos on the website and apps and RGB logos on the print material. Seeing an opportunity to really grow and develop a brand and an idea that I really believed in, I went forward working to convince everyone of the benefits of having a more uniform and scalable platform. Took about 2 years, but eventually I was successful. Reporting to 3 C-level stakeholders and about five other managers nationwide, the task to move the culture and workflow management toward a positive direction was a daunting one. We had a startup mentality. Everyone wore 10 hats and we worked on baker dozens of projects all at once. I am not really exaggerating. We worked on everything from landing pages and animated banners to redoing new white-label and cobranded sites. We created new courseware material that including 3D animations, video capturing and editing, javascript games to everything from designing car wraps for the nationwide fleet of Mini Coopers.

The goal was to rebuild the back-end and the front-end including everything that tied it together along with our many white labels, cobrands and external courseware to create a monetization funnel for better scalability and internal company analytics management. We were using asp.Net from 1997 and now it’s time to upgrade to the latest version so that we could grow. At the time we only had one mobile course for California and all the other states had to take a Desktop course on their mobile devices; not user friendly. All the code for the courseware and the marketing pages were all done in tables that were not consistently tied with CSS. I repeat, there were 15,000 thousand pages to rebuild, plus creating new high resolution courseware material. We need a new way to manage all this and not lose our SEO juice in the transition.

So we started from the beginning by deciding which analytics we wanted to collect, understanding how scalable we wanted to make the courseware, and really understanding our users motivation. Our users fit into three general categories; teens between the ages of 14 and 17, adults between the ages of 18 and 55, and the senior folks at 55+. Each state has its own unique courseware, its own unique course titles, its own unique demographic, and its own unique user flow. In some occasions it was unique per county. Transparency in mind, after all the teams figured out which analytics were going to be captured we began on better understanding the user flow and how to funnel the user to collect the proper analytics. After multiple usability tests within the targeted demographics and quite a few heuristic evaluations of some early high-fidelity prototypes, we had a pretty clear idea of our goals and the direction we could take it. Over the course of a year and a half with mad amounts of elbow grease we successfully transitioned 15,000 pages and courseware material for 25+ states without too much of a hiccup. With competition fiercely at our back door, Google search algorithm updates, among other various excuses, we unfortunately did take a pretty serious hit in traffic for about a one to five month period. As we kept optimizing, testing and biting our nails working towards positive numbers we slowly start going up. Our efforts proved fruitful around the five month mark we started to see an upward trend. What we noticed really started to pay off was the fact that our courseware now was responsive across all states and our mobile traffic went through the roof. That gave us a supreme advantage over our competitors who were only licensed in a couple of states and definitely did not have the interactive educational courseware and reach that DriversEd.com possessed. So we kept track and conducted multiple tests based on our users demographics wants and needs, tracked bugs throughout the courseware, site and apps, learned a few things and improved a few things.

We had often bit off more than we could chew and that lead me to raise awareness for utilizing tools to track tasks, projects and content, their urgency and deliverables. I promoted and implemented JIRA as the primary project management, bug tracking and department-specific workflow management tool for DriversEd.com. It was a difficult transition for most but after a couple of months and only a few small hiccups, the team was successful and embraced the functionality and accountability of the new tool. So much so that it became the tool across all departments in the company from accounting all the way to sales.

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