WPBeginner v5 – New Site Design and What’s Next

If you’re loading up WPBeginner today, then you might have noticed that we have a new website design. Considering our last design was from 2012, a lot of you would say that it’s about time that we gave WPBeginner a refresh. I wanted to share with you some insights from our redesign process, what we learned, why it took so long, and most importantly what’s new in the new design.

A Little Background

I started WPBeginner in 2009. In the first 3 years, WPBeginner went through 4 redesigns. That takes up a lot of resources which could have been better spent on our core mission:

Help small businesses grow and compete with the big guys through our tools, team, and training.

After WPBv4, I made it a point to focus on our core mission and the results are astonishing.

In the last four years:

  • We created over a thousand free WordPress tutorials on WPBeginner blog.
  • We added over 500+ new video tutorials on our YouTube Channel.
  • We added over 100 terms in our WordPress Glossary.
  • We launched OptinMonster – a tool that converts abandoning website visitors into subscribers. Our optin forms are viewed several billion times a month.
  • We launched Envira Gallery, the most powerful WordPress gallery solution, to help our users easily create photo & video galleries without slowing down their websites.
  • We launched Soliloquy an easy to use responsive WordPress slider plugin that makes performance and user experience it’s #1 priority.
  • We launched WPForms, the most beginner friendly WordPress form plugin based on your feedback and suggestions.
  • Earlier this year, we acquired Yoast Analytics and rebranded it to MonsterInsights. We are in the process of rewriting the entire plugin to make Google Analytics easy for beginners.

Collectively our plugins have been downloaded over 13 million times and are actively being used on over 2 million websites.

While all of those are great accomplishments, we have a new set of challenges that need to be addressed if we want to continue to improve and serve our mission.

This brings me to WPBeginner v5.

Design with Data

In the last few years, the usage of mobile devices has gone up quite significantly for most websites. That’s why we always recommended everyone to choose a mobile-friendly responsive WordPress theme when starting a blog.

This was a bit ironic because our own website was not responsive. We got a lot of criticism on social media from other WordPress designers and developers in the community.

Occasionally we would get comments from readers asking why WPBeginner was not responsive.

While I understand the importance of responsive design, it’s even more important that you make data-driven decisions when it comes prioritizing tasks in your business.

In 2012 when we launched WPBv4 design, less than 2% of our audience was on mobile.

Today in 2016, that number has increased to about 7%.

This is still very low compared to my other websites like List25 where over 50% of users are on mobile.

But it makes sense because most folks don’t install plugins on their WordPress websites via mobile device. Most folks don’t make code changes on mobile. Most folks don’t try to fix common WordPress errors on mobile.

That’s why making WPBeginner responsive wasn’t our top priority. However once the mobile usage passed 5%, we started planning for the redesign that addressed other challenges as well.

WPBeginnerv5 Responsive

Another challenge we faced was usability on site. As we added more content, it became harder for users to find what they were looking for. For example, we had 8 articles talking about speeding up WordPress, but no comprehensive step by step solution.

We looked at the top typed search queries in WPBeginner search form to create comprehensive step by step tutorials that are now promptly highlighted in the design.

WPBv5 Comprehensive Guides

We also made searching WPBeginner easier with a full screen search overlay in the header and an additional search bar in the sidebar.

Going forward, we will be making it easier for users to find what they’re looking for by creating content portals that creatively leverage WordPress tags.

What’s New in WPBv5

The core functionality of the site has stayed the same. Here are few notable changes on the website:

New Start Here Page

If you’re new to WPBeginner, then you would appreciate the new Start Here page

Responsive Website Design

WPBeginner website is now 100% responsive, so it looks great on all devices.

We’ve chosen to stick with the popular Genesis framework to build our custom child theme.

Comprehensive Guides

If you look in the sidebar of every page, you will see a new section “I need help with…” which highlights comprehensive guides like how to speed up WordPress, how to improve WordPress security, how to optimize WordPress SEO, and more.

Better Visibility for Our Products

In the WPBeginner census, one of the questions I asked was name a product that we own. It was quite surprising how many people didn’t know about our products. In the new design, we’re going to do a better job of highlighting the products we own.

This starts with a new premium WordPress plugins page.

We will also be rotating the products in our sidebar as well as in our newsletter ads.

FontAwesome and New Font

You might notice the use of icon font in the new designer. It’s called FontAwesome, and I’m a huge fan of Dave Gandy’s work.

We use his work on all of our products, and are proud supporters of FontAwesome.

Fun fact, you can actually add the WPBeginner logo as a font if you use FontAwesome as well as our other properties.

In the new design, we’re now using Proxima Nova font through Typekit.

New Share Plugin

In the past, we used a variation of the Floating Social Bar plugin.

After the changes from Twitter, Facebook, and others – I felt it was time to create a new sharing plugin for WPBeginner.

It accurately pulls the Twitter count, but more importantly it now has a total shares count.

New Share Plugin

I chose to stop the floating behavior and rather the share buttons are now added at the beginning and at the end of each post. This will help with a better user experience on smaller screen sizes.

New eBook and Optin Forms

At the bottom of each post, you will see a new optin form to download my WordPress toolkit. This eBook shares the exact tools that we use across our websites.

It is different from the WPBeginner blueprint because that only shows you what we use on WPBeginner.

The toolkit eBook is more comprehensive.

I also replaced the sidebar optin form with MonsterLinks, a 2-step optin process. The sidebar optin form didn’t convert at a high enough rate to justify the real-estate. So now if you want to subscribe via email, you can do so by clicking on the email icon in the sidebar.

WPBv5 Sidebar Optin

What’s Next

Aside from the front-end changes, we made a lot of back-end changes that will make it easy for the WPBeginner team to create more comprehensive guides in the coming months.

The WPBeginner videos membership site will be getting an overhaul. Currently it’s still using the old theme.

We will be turning that into a LMS system that will bring together the beginner videos course and our 500+ YouTube videos in a centralized place.

The goal with that site would be to offer more organized courses to make it easy for users to learn WordPress fast.

I want to thank you all for your support and feedback.

Yours Truly,
Syed Balkhi
Founder of WPBeginner