My name is Benjamin Diggles. I don’t write on here very often. I think this is like my fourth time. I am the developer and designer behind this project. In essence I am Scott’s partner. He has vision and I help him bring it to life online.
It was back in the summer of 2008 when Scott and his wife Kansas approached me saying they wanted to start a website that focused on the Audi brand and the enthusiasts that fueled it. I agreed and we decided to start small and we focused on building a blog with Search Engine Optimization as our top priority. We wanted this to be an organic project to see how far we could take things by following a few simple focused rules.
This was what the first site looked like almost 5 years ago:
I work for Webtrends which is a Digital Marketing software company with a focus on Enterprise Analytics. So I have had some form of a measurement strategy on this project since day one with the advantage of having access to the best tools in the world. While our goals changed from year to year our focus on analyzing the data didn’t. It was interesting to see what people were interested in and what they could care less about. Furthermore it was fascinating how people were viewing the site: on what devices, in what locations, at what times of the day, etc.
In the past year what we noticed was that the majority of people were accessing the site through a mobile device. Around 80% actually – and below are the top 10 performers with about 70% of that going to iOS on the iPhone and iPad.
When we first started about 15% of people found us using mobile devices in the first year.
As far as content goes, the metrics have always been the same: People care the most about integrations, adapters, accessories, add-ons and in car technology. By a landslide.
Since Scott is so focused on social I was thinking of ways to better integrate Social into the website by going nuts on API’s. Below is the design that almost came about to support this social focus but last minute I decided to change direction.
The reason I changed direction was I knew from the data that people didn’t interact with social on the website. They always went to that channel, such as Facebook, to engage with Scott. So I decided to go to the extreme and strip all social and interaction from the site. We were only getting a couple of comments a week and they were all very prescriptive questions that Scott didn’t have time to answer. Typically if one of those questions are left on a comment feed on Facebook, someone else from the community would speak up and help answer it.
Along with social, there were a bunch of other things on the site that people just simply didn’t interact with. Also it felt that all of the content Scott had posted, which was a ton, was very buried and hard to find. Also it required a lot of reading and wasn’t very visually appealing. People also wanted more depth when it came to models but Scott didn’t have the time to build the models repository we wanted and it was a ton of work from a development stand point.
Here is what we decided to do with the new format
We focused on the tablet first. Namely the iPad and the Surface. I will be releasing the mobile optimized version of the site in the next couple of weeks.
I am pulling all of Scott’s Instagram images into the pictures page.
And all of his YouTube videos into the Videos page.
We didn’t want to kick social to the curb at all since we want people to use the site to discover Scott’s social channels. This new social page is minimal yet interactive and I imagine it will evolve quite a bit.
Search was something that was very confusing in the past so I wanted to make this as simple and effective as possible. Now if you wanted to see every post ever that has to do with an R8 you can. The new Search page contains all of the categories and still has access to previous versions of archives.
Now while this is a great start I am not done. I still need to reformat the store, optimize the site for phones and do a couple of other neat things that I am going to keep a secret for now.
When Scott showed me the article posted in the Audi Encounter Brand Magazine it was great validation that we are on the right track. I mean it doesn’t really get any better than this right here…
Here is a closer look below and you can find the magazine here.
Thank you to all the people who have embraced and shared this project. Scott and I will continue to try and make it a better experience for you as we move forward.
While Scott may be passionate about the Audi brand, I do not drive an Audi. I am a Porsche kinda guy.
OH! And it looks like we got Audi USA’s approval! Well on twitter anyhow…