Great Lakes Bay Region
When it was first launched, the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance’s website focused on describing the Alliance itself. But it was time for a change.
The new GreatLakesBay.com, they decided, should support the Alliance’s mission of bringing businesses and talent to the region. Rather than emphasize the organization, it should promote the region itself.
The first question on every visitor’s mind is, “Where is the Great Lakes Bay Region?” We illustrated a simple map to identify the region, then placed it prominently on the home page.
But the region is more than coordinates on a map. We used vibrant shades of blue and green to emphasize the area’s natural beauty. And because access to waterways is one of its biggest advantages, a large illustrated waterscape blends into the front page alongside important facts about the region.
We were promoting the region, so it was crucial that we show actual shots of the area. We traveled to Clare County, Downtown Saginaw, and everywhere in between to photograph regional landmarks.
Due to the season (winter) and number of photos needed, we also borrowed from Great Lakes Bay Magazine’s archives for summer shots. And when absolutely necessary, we sprinkled in some stock photos that complemented the rest of the content.
Gratiot County’s endless farmland, Saginaw’s historic urban center, Bay City’s waterways – as diverse as these are, they’re all found within the Great Lakes Bay Region. A single photo could never represent it all.
We used a digital photo editing technique called “double exposure” to blend photos from around the region. The result is more than just visually interesting; it allows us to convey the feeling of the region without excluding any of its important areas.
The new website employed responsive design so it works equally well on phones and tablets as on a large desktop screen. Since about 40% of the site’s search traffic is through mobile devices, this update was overdue.
The old site’s home page made over one hundred server requests and took about four seconds to fully load. Despite an image-heavy design, the new site loads in about one second and makes about one-third as many requests to the server.
The increase in speed makes life easier for mobile users with spotty service. It also contributes to a lower bounce rate, which improves the site’s search ranking.