After quickly becoming one of Newcastle's most popular online destinations for finding new places to eat, drink, shop, be active, social & entertained, the team at HUNTERhunter are now expanding further afield, into the adjacent regions of Port Stephens and the Central Coast.
To support this expansion, the HUNTERhunter team have been working hard with Mudbath to design and build a new website and fresh user experience for their visitors.
We recently caught up with Alissa from HH to talk about the website project, changes to the site, challenges, and where to next...
Q: What were the main reasons for completely overhauling the HUNTERhunter website?
A: It was a combination of not having a choice and needing to do something new… the platform we originally built the website on is shutting down at the beginning of 2021. This fast-tracked a conversation we had been needing to have around the future of the website and how we were going to evolve as a business, and a new platform was going to be necessary to do this.
Q: What are the biggest changes on the new website?
A: From our audience’s perspective, they will notice a few things right away. The first being a fresh new look and User Experience, we didn't need to reinvent the wheel, however there are some subtle design and functionality changes - overall the website has a ‘cleaner’ look.
The separation of regions is another one of the major changes, at the top of the website our audience now has the option to explore - Newcastle, Hunter Valley, Central Coast and Port Stephens regions separately.
When we launched the site in 2013 the concentration of our content was largely on Newcastle, however, over the last six years we have expanded into the above regions - by separating them into their own individual categories on the site allows for easier browsing of content that is relevant to each individual.
The other functionality change is the filtering system which was one of the major objectives of the new site. We launched the website with 40 articles, today we have more than 800 sitting across the site, therefore, a filtering system was necessary in order to allow our audience to more easily navigate through the content to find what they are looking for.
The last major addition was the integration of Google Ad Manager as our ad serving system, which has been a big change for us as a business. Google Ad Manager allows us to be more flexible with the number of ads we serve and the way we serve them, it has also brought us into line with current ad serving practices. Mudbath helped us evaluate different ad serving tech, helped us configure our digital advertising, and also helped think about how to optimise ad placements considering the user’s experience.
Q: How will the new site benefit businesses featured on your site?
A: The addition of the filtering system is where businesses will see the biggest benefit as it allows for our audience to narrow down their search and discover businesses based on a range of different filters such as location, accommodation, type of business, cuisine etc. The other benefit is that Mudbath has built the filters in such a way that they can be added or altered at any time which allows us to work with businesses to create filters that are specific to them, allowing our audience to sort-of ‘drill down’ to content they are looking for by selecting multiple options, e.g. by area and cuisine type
Q: What was it like working with Mudbath?
A: It’s a daunting task to rebuild an entire website from scratch, it’s a big investment and not something you do every day, so many of the steps along the way were new to us. However, Mudbath’s guidance and expertise gave us the reassurance that we were making the smartest decisions for our business and most importantly setting our business up for the future.
The team at Mudbath have been fantastic to work with, right from the outset their approach to identifying our needs and really getting to know us as a business has allowed them to create the best possible result and has assisted us to achieve our goal of launching a highly intuitive and sophisticated website.
Q: What are the advantages of a custom CMS for HH?
A: When we first started looking at different platforms there wasn’t any one system that ticked all the boxes that we required, so a custom CMS (content management system) was going to be the best solution for our needs. Working with Mudbath we were able to evaluate several options and identify a system that would meet all of our needs and budget, as well as providing recommendations on other areas of our business that were needed to update to relaunch the website.
The biggest advantage of the Umbraco CMS that we are now working with, is that it will allow our business to adapt as our business changes and take the business into the future.
Umbraco's well-known flexibility together with its blank-sheet foundation makes it the perfect framework for whatever project you’re creating.
Q: What's next for HH in 2020 and beyond?
A: Our objectives are to continue to grow our audience which will mean not only engaging with more people within Newcastle but those from the immediate regions around us. Most importantly, we want to continue talking with the audience who have been with us from the beginning, to do this we need to create fresh and engaging content that keeps people coming back.
As well as continuing to serve fresh content we are looking to create different revenue channels and ways of engaging with our audience in both ‘on and offline’ environments.
In saying this our plans have had to take a slight detour of late, it’s interesting times at the moment, like a lot of businesses we’re having to adapt to the challenges that are being thrown at us on a daily basis. However, we do have some exciting plans for the future which we’ll keep under wraps for the time being.
Q: Do you have any tips or ideas for others looking to launch their own content businesses?
A: The rebuilding of our website has been a massive learning curve for us, and one of the biggest learnings we’ve taken out of it, and this was something that Mudbath helped us work through, was having a plan as to where we wanted the business to be not just in the short-term but well into the future.
Having these conversations at the beginning of the rebuild process has allowed us to develop a long term business plan and a platform that will assist us to achieve these goals.
If you or your business are thinking about a new website project, please get in touch so we can create something awesome together.