Web design refresh for Christian Wolmar

Project details

Client: Christian Wolmar
Type of business: Author & broadcaster
Date: Autumn 2014
URL: www.christianwolmar.co.uk

Our designer Mike created Christian Wolmar’s first website ten years ago in 2004 and we were very pleased to launch the latest reincarnation of the site in October 2014.

Christian is one of the country’s leading transport commentators and regularly appears on television and radio, including the news bulletins of BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Sky News. He writes for many of the country’s leading papers, such as the Evening Standard, Guardian, Independent, Daily Express and many other titles. Christian has also published numerous books, especially about the railways past and present. In addition, Christian was running to be the next Mayor of London.

When we created his original website in March 2004, which was mainly an extensive archive of his articles, we encouraged Christian to write an online blog to offer something extra to his loyal website visitors and this has proved a very popular feature.

This new website is based on WordPress, the world’s most popular Content Management System, and contains well over 1,000 articles, as well as over 5,000 comments showing strong engagement with his audience.

Key objectives of the web design refresh:

The four key objectives of the website revamp were to:

  • Make the website styling look more current by giving it a complete refresh.
  • Ensure articles are easier to access by incorporating a new navigation system.
  • Make the website smartphone and tablet friendly.
  • Provide more social media integration.

New design:

Christian’s new web design features a bright, modern colour scheme, with content neatly laid into columns, and having an uncluttered look with plenty of white space. Articles are categorised by both date and publication title using a powerful Content Management System (CMS).

In the web design refresh, the home page has been designed predominantly to give easy access to Christian Wolmar’s latest articles, but there are also pathways to his speaking engagements, books and his separate mayoral website. An innovative revolving Twitter box was also added to the design, which scrolls through his latest tweets and is fully integrated into the website styling.

The whole website has been carefully designed to be responsive, meaning it works on all types of devices, from desktops, laptops, tablets and down to smartphones.

The navigation bar features a drop-down “mega menu”, allowing quick access to a large number of links. This is mobile friendly too.

With each article, Christian is now able to very easily upload an associated image (just by dragging and dropping a picture from his computer into the web browser), or he can pick an existing file from the website’s in-built picture library, which we pre-loaded with a number of images from our own railway photo library.

Latest articles are also shown in a ticker bar at the top of each page, which helps highlight more content for visitors to read, especially considering those landing on the website from search engines may not necessarily be reading the most current articles.

Social media and community features:

Each article features a social media sharing bar, which allows visitors to easily share Christian’s articles, plus it totals the number of mentions across Facebook, Twittter, Google+ and LinkedIn. This floating bar automatically hides for smartphones.

When each article is published, a tweet is automatically sent out to Christian’s Twitter account, which again is an example of how we’ve streamlined the publishing process to make it as quick and easy as possible.

Audience participation is important to the website’s success and visitors can leave comments beneath each article and also subscribe to his email newsletter.

Another key aspect of the redesign was to incorporate Google Adsense into the template as these adverts help fund the website’s upkeep. Unlike the previous website, the adverts are less obtrusive to the article content, making the pages easier to read.

Feedback on the web design refresh:

The feedback on Christian Wolmar’s website refresh was very positive, with tweets from his followers saying “Much tidier. Like it.” and “Attractive, easy to use. I like it!”

The redesign saw an immediate and sustained increase in visitor numbers, helped with stronger Search Engine Optimisation built into the new website design.

Christian said:

The site is looking great and has much higher usage. Love the look of it and it’s much more modern.

Also have a look at how Christian’s website has changed through the years.

About Primary Image and WordPress web design:

We have worked with a number of journalists to provide them with professional looking and easy-to-update websites, including Michael Williams and Paul Gosling.

The WordPress platform, which Primary Image now specialises in, is very much suited to blogging and sharing online articles, making it really easy to maintain your own website. We can help with migrating or refreshing existing websites, including magazine, blog-style and intranet sites.

If you would like any more info on our services and what we can offer you, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!