How we redesigned The Square Ball website and saved them thousands

In this case study, we discuss how we redesigned The Square Ball website and saved them thousands of dollars in monthly hosting fees.

Topline Stats

  • Improved the website performance score from an E to an A on gtmetrix!
  • Redesigned the website from top to bottom.
  • Fixed website performance issues saving the client thousands of dollars in monthly hosting fees.

The Challenge

TheSquareBall (TSB) is a popular UK football website and a podcast. This membership website covers the Leeds United football club and publishes awesome daily content, including blog posts, podcast episodes, and member-only premium content.

thesquareball-screenshot

The original website had a good look and feel and did what it was supposed to do, but the performance was getting worse by the day, and racking up hosting costs on Pantheon. Whenever the website hit a snag, Pantheon suggested that the client update their hosting to a more expensive plan. Pretty soon, TSB was on the most expensive plan, but the website was still slow and experiencing technical issues.

The client’s first priority was to roll out a new look and feel, but we also realized that we would have to tackle the performance issues. TSB had an ambitious plan to not only keep the current website chugging along but grow its user base and improve its visitor experience.

That was where Clio Websites came in to offer our WordPress development and performance improvement expertise.

The Solution

We executed a four-step plan:

  1. Implement and roll out a new design with minimal impact on the users
  2. Perform audits to identify the major performance issues
  3. Implement fixes to resolve the issues 
  4. Focus on rolling out new functionality

New Design

First and foremost, the client wanted us to implement a brand new design of the website. Pulling this off without affecting their 500K monthly visitors was no small feat.

Not only does this website publish a daily newsletter, blog post, and podcast, but new visitors can sign up for premium memberships 24×7. Implementing changes to busy e-commerce websites is never fun, but our process minimizes disruptions and makes this process very smooth.

We worked with the client to improve their original design in a non-live environment.

tsb-screenshot-before
Before the redesign

Once the new design and functionality were fully implemented, we exported our designs from the development environment and imported them into the live environment without any impact on the users.

thesquareball-screenshot
After the redesign

We knew that we would still experience performance issues because those were mostly tied to the backend and inefficient plugins and code.

This is what we decided to tackle next.

Site audit

Since Google announced that load speeds will become a ranking factor, a lot of our clients have been focused on improving their website performance.

We performed several high-level audits to identify the most critical issues we needed to fix. 

  • PageSpeed Audit: We discovered issues like uncompressed images and a lack of caching that was causing the website to load slowly.

We were already using a great hosting provider (Pantheon) and caching, so what was the problem? Due to poor performance, the client was forced to upgrade to one of the most expensive plans costing them several thousand dollars per month.

We knew that we had to get to the bottom of it and that something was amiss. Even with 500K monthly visitors, we knew that the hosting was more than capable of handling the load.

After some digging, we discovered that one of the main WordPress plugins was breaking the cache on Pantheon. Even worse, this plugin was using a method that Pantheon did not support so we were forced to look into switching hosting providers.

tsb-performance-before
Website performance before – the website was loading for over 6.5s

Fixed performance issues

We decided to migrate the website to Cloudways in order to fix the caching issues and also reduce the overall cost of the hosting. TSB was paying several thousand dollars per month and we knew that they didn’t need to be.

After migrating to Cloudways, and fixing the caching issues, we discovered another problem. One of the core podcasting plugins was running very inefficient code, and taking up a lot of server resources. We were able to quickly identify the problem and fix it which reduced our infrastructure needs, and increased performance significantly.

tsb-performance-after
Website performance after fully loaded in under 1.5s

Moving to Cloudways, improved our performance substantialy because we were able to implement the caching solution and identify and fix other issues using their tools. The website is now loading 5.2s faster!

Focus on new features

After implementing the new design, and fixing all of the performance issues, we could focus on what mattered the most to TSB, which is rolling out new functionality. The performance issues are behind us, and we can now focus on further growth.

The client has ambitious plans to grow their subscriber base, and not having to worry about the performance and reliability of their website helps them do that.

The Results

In summary, here are the results that we were able to achieve for TSB:

  • Improved the website performance score from an E to an A on gtmetrix!
  • Redesigned the website top to bottom for a better user experience
  • Fixed website performance issues saving the client thousands of dollars in monthly hosting fees.

We saw a significant increase in user visits after these modifications, and the user experience is now considerably improved. With the recent focus on user experience from the Google algorithms, our clients know how important good website performance is for search engine optimization (SEO).

Why Clio Websites

How we redesigned the TSB website and resolved their technical issues is just one of the many examples of how we help small businesses put their websites to work. Doing website redesign projects and improving website performance is one of our core services. We love doing this work and we love to see how excited these results make our clients.

If you have any questions or want us to replicate these results for your website, get in touch with us and check out our other case studies.

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