ambitious revamp

men at work

Last week i met up with Enda and spent a few hours planning & talking about theleavingcert.com and where we want to take it. We’ve agreed on a fairly radical shake up which we feel will increase traffic, interaction & content…

The Leaving Cert starts up in September so we’ll be beavering away in the hope of rolling out our revamp by September 1st. A couple of months ago, we bought leaving-cert.net as it was too useful a site to turn down. I wasn’t sure how we could use it or what we’d do with it, but i knew it would be in our best interest to buy the site rather than compete against it.

So, after much thought, we’re merging the two sites. leaving-cert.net will be terminated.

WTF does this warning mean???
Creative Commons License photo credit: brandon shigeta

Before i move on any further, i feel i have to outline the reasons for ditching leaving-cert.net and taking it under theleavingcert.com’s wing…

From the moment i came across it i always thought it was a good site, a good idea, with good content. But i never liked the name. I don’t like dashes and i don’t like ‘.net’. The combination of the two makes it an ugly domain and difficult to brand.

theleavingcert.com on the other hand ticks more boxes. It’s a .com and it doesn’t have dashes. It’s also slightly older & despite having half of the content leaving-cert.net has, it actually gets about double the traffic, mainly through google. So it’s very well SEO’d.

And for those reasons, we decided to make the change. But that’s not the only big change… we’re actually moving everything about and completely restructuring the site in to subdomains. So it’s not just a change for leaving-cert.net, it’s a big change for theleavingcert.com too. In many ways, both sites will be scrapped and merged to from one giant network of subsites under theleavingcert.com umbrella.

This is risky though, there’s always a danger that when you break up a site too much, in to too many different sections, you alienate those sections and actually damage the overall appeal of the site. Forums are a great example… if i’m building a sports forum, i could give every sport known to man it’s own forum. Or i could just have a ‘general’ sports forum where any sport can be talked about…. and then branch out once i see what people are talking most about.

It’s very important a site looks busy and up to date. In fact, that’s probably the single most important part of maintaining any website. Keeping the site looking busy. Keeping it updated. Users demand new content. Loyal users deserve it. If they get it, they stay loyal. If they don’t get it, they’re more likely to go elsewhere…

So it’s a risky move and not guaranteed to work, but we’ve studied it a lot and believe that what we’re doing is right for us and for our users. Of course we won’t know whether it works out until we actually implement it but that’s the beauty of decision making. Decisions get made. For better or for worse, the site is still moving along and we’re still working hard which is more than can be said for a lot of our competition :mrgreen:

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