Maraca is an EcoFashion brand that designs for people ready to be agents of change. In 2017, Maraca founders contacted me to help review their website and optimise it because they were not making any sales through it.

As small business, Maraca’s goals for their website are fairly straightforward. The website needs to be a platform where they can promote Maraca as a brand and their products. One metric that can be used to determine the success of the website is the revenue generated directly from the website, which at the time the founders came to me, was next to nothing due to the lack of updates and care.

UX-wise, the experience was very poor, the website took 8s to load, and even longer on mobile devices on cellular connection. The main navigation was confusing with the sub-categories on the same level of the main categories and the content was not only outdated but also didn’t convey a story of who Maraca is.

On the back-end, website was set up with WordPress as a CMS a while ago with an outdated theme and because of the lack of technical knowledge, the website hasn’t been taken care of properly, or at all. I suggested the client change to a different CMS since WordPress can be complicated to use but they didn’t want to pursue this route. To keep WordPress as the CMS there were a few issues as below that needed to be fixed immediately.

- Despite the theme chosen was WooCommerce ready, it hasn’t been updated to be compatible with the latest version of WooCommerce.
There are also no plugin with auto-update to reduce the need of manual labour. PHP version was also outdated.

Lastly, due to the size of the business, the budget was limited so a solution is needed so the client can move forward without spending more money on specialists.

Firstly, I refined the IA to be more clear with the homepage focusing on the latest products instead of the previously vague introduction of Maraca. I also removed the funky GIFs they had on the homepage and reduced the logo so it’s at a more suitable size, this also sped up the website. Luckily they’d had most of the content ready. With a new photoshoot that had taken place not long before Maraca came to me, and to maximise the engagement with the new content without overwhelming the users, we decided on a carousel of the photos from that photoshoot, linking to the products’ pages. Despite being advised against carousel, they thought it would be a good idea to have some movements on the homepage by having 4 different carousels. As a compromise, there is now a photo grid below of the carousel to show off more products. The homepage ends with a ‘New arrivals’ section to guide the users to any product Maraca wants to promote at any given time. All of these were done with different WordPress plugins. An ‘About us’ is also created to separate this type of content from the homepage and is included in the main navigation.

On the backend, the latest PHP and WordPress versions were turned on to make sure the experience is maximised without any technical knowledge moving forward. Different plugins was installed, for example, to compress images so any images the clients upload in the future can be optimised. All redundant plugins were uninstalled to reduced loading time.

As mentioned, the theme was outdated and there is no support for this theme but because the client refused to change to another one, I tried to take advantage of anything that this theme can do. One of the issues I ran into was when I updated WooCommerce, the theme broke due to said lack of support. This has been advised to the client that they will have more issue in the future. As the results, WooCommerce auto-update is now turned off permanently.

For the UI, because of WordPress’ limitations, I made some changes to the colours and typography to differentiate the brand further, compared to the default colours and typography used. A message to increase sales was also added to the ribbon on the top of the page and the Instagram icon is now always on the navigation to drive the users to explore the brand’s social media.

At the end of the project, when the client is happy with all the changes, I provided a document where I explained and showed the client how to update the website including every plugins except for WooCommerce, what should be done and anything involved moving forward, such as how to optimise images for web with Photoshop. The website is also backed up periodically on the hosting service.

The website is now loading in half of the time and experience is much more positive and the clients can also keep the website updated by themselves instead of abandoning it like previously. The website was also tested on various devices because the website is also used on mobile devices.