Chicago Gang History
:: WordPress / Pantheon / Route 53 / CloudFront
After 7-8 months the Jekyll version of Chicago Gang History we started seeing some scaling issues with media assets on CloudCannon. Rather than hacking it I instead worked with CGH author Zach Jones to perform a complete site redesign, leveraging existing ad revenue to migrate them to WordPress self-hosting.
The redesign was very successful and inbound search traffic continued to lift. A year following the redesign homepage hits are now greater than 70K per month.
With more than 20,000 users per month at the time of migration—most driven by organic search traffic—we decided to pull out all the stops to prepare Chicago Gang History for their next period of growth.
All in all the CGH-II redesign involved more than 200 hours of research and development, design and testing. And the results are already speaking for themselves.
- Increased daily users 25% within 45 days of relaunch
- Tripled indexable page count enabling a bevy of long-tail landing pages
- Broke 1200 users per day less than 10 months from the original site launch
The WordPress redesign enabled us to sneak in some much-needed features, including:
- Rich image galleries with social sharing and deep link support
- Automated creation of responsive images
- Site-wide HTTPS with HSTS and A+ SSL rating
- CDN with high-speed varnish caching and 40+ global POPs
- Fully integrated newsletter and user management
- Super intelligent and extensible ad placements
- Integrated keyword search tool
- Dynamically generated internal links
- Support for contact form media uploads
- Improved SEO and structured data
- Opportunity experiments
It total about six weeks of work.
The Chicago Gang History site has been a great success since December, more than I could have bargained for. The redesign has blown my mind further, easier navigation, even sleeker design and beautiful taxonomies. Pretty much 100% of the new redesign ideas were imagineered by VHS and I was happy with every bit of it — it’s way better than I’d hoped for.Zach Jones, Author of Chicago Gang History