The Redesign: GamingSlots
Published 27th December 2014
At the end of the summer of 2013, I had two things on my mind. One of those was that I wanted to go watch the World Cup in Brazil the following summer. The other was that I wanted to dramatically overhaul a site in our network that was showing signs of promise - Gamingslots.com. Both of these goals would bring their own sets of challenges, but ultimately were realistically achievable with some hard work and planning. At the time Gamingslots.com was essentially a review website, focusing exclusively on online video slots. It was a very rigid site with a growing number of free play games, bonus videos and slots reviews. There was only one real source of traffic and that was Google, with every other source paling into insignificance. I knew something needed to change as relying on one source of traffic had caused issues in the past with other sites. We needed to come up with a strategy for the future growth of Gamingslots. com. We wanted to take it from a bogstandard affiliate portal to a strong brand in the niche of slots. The timing was good as I had recently been introduced to a talented graphic designer with a background in marketing and web design. His skills, coupled with an existing team of WordPress specialists and database writers, meant we were well positioned to take on this project. A starting point for re-launching this website was asking ourselves what was it we were trying to achieve. It sounds a bit cliché, but it is surprising how easy it is to forget the simple things. Our main focus points were identity, traffic, community and USP. This is how I and the team went about each of these key areas.
Brand and identity
It became apparent that everything we wanted to achieve in terms of increasing visitors to the site, and then engaging with them, relied on creating a strong and recognisable identity. Our focus with the new logo was mainly to ensure it remained on one single line, rather than being tall or too bulky. It also needed to resize well, as we were going to be using it in a variety of different locations. Once we were happy with our logo design, attentions were turned to the website. We kept the orange colour theme that was well liked on the old version of Gamingslots.com and built on that, adding subtle greys and blues that complemented the primary brand colour. Everything else was designed with the focus on clean, tidy design with modern styles. We then had to put this altogether and make it work on devices starting at 320px and going up to and beyond 2000px. The hardest part was thinking on every level - mobile, tablet and desktop. It was so much easier before when you only really had one platform, but times had changed and we needed to as well.
Even before the Gamingslots team sat down and started planning out the new site we were fully aware we needed to start thinking to the future in terms of traffic. For too long, we had been reliant on the constant supply from Google. However, changes to the algorithm, a new ads display and multiple ‘animal-themed’ updates meant that this source of traffic could not be our sole focus. So we started looking at what other sources of good quality traffic were available. Social networks were a little bit of an unchartered territory for the team, but we decided to invest time in research and design to improve our pages. We now post fresh content on our social networks every day, getting conversations started about slots, gaming and off-topic stuff. Little by little it is paying off, as our numbers are growing. There is a long way to go, but I feel that the social networks could be the key to being less reliant on Google traffic for Gamingslots in the future.
Something that none of the Gamingslots team had done successfully in the past was to build a strong community around a site or a brand. We wanted to change this, so we spent time in building a strategy to help us achieve a great community. With the investment in time and resources in social media, we know that this was going to aid our community growth. There is now the facility to log into Gamingslots.com and access parts of the site that aren’t available to non-members. Our aim is to expand this and allow more community interaction within the website. So far a forum has been side lined, just due to the work involved, but it is a distinct possibility for the future.
Finding a unique selling point in a crowded market place with a product like slots was always going to be tricky, but we feel we have something. Before the decision was made to re-launch the site, a project was underway to collect data on all the slots. This was general information that is normally available in the pay table within the game, such as pay lines, bonus games, free spins, multipliers etc. To a person that doesn’t play slots, this is probably gobbledygook, but to a slots player this is useful and interesting information. From this data, we have created a new product called Slot Analytics, which is available for free for Gamingslots users logged into the site. It is a simple idea, but we think we can do a lot with this information and we are looking forward to really developing this part of the site. Other USPs for Gamingslots include a high quality news feed and blog for those people that want to stay on top of the industry and enjoy discussion about it. We also have one of the largest collections of reviews, free play games and videos at any slots portal. So going back to my two goals, do I think they were achieved? Well, I did manage to go to the World Cup and saw seven top quality games, including Brazil being thrashed 7-1 by Germany. And with Gamingslots, we have re-launched the site and are currently working at improving it every day. It’s certainly not ‘job done’, but we are a long way towards it. A word of advice to those considering re-launching their own website or building a new one. Co-ordination between project manager, designer and developer are critical to the success of the project. We ran into delays due to a variety of things that could have been easily resolved with more cohesion between these three parties. If you are essentially going to be fulfilling all of these roles then you may find you don’t experience any of these difficulties.
“The hardest part was thinking on every level - mobile, tablet and desktop. It was so much easier before when you only really had one platform, but times had changed and we needed to as well.”
“For too long, we had been reliant on the constant supply from Google. But changes to the algorithm, a new ads display and multiple ‘animal-themed’ updates meant this source of traffic could not be our sole focus.”