As some of you know, we are in the midst of a redesign of the Product Portal platform, everything from the storefront itself to the admin system, from the reporting tools to the processes in our Ops center. Even though it will not be launching until next month, I though it appropriate to give everyone a sneak peek at the designs and the thinking behind them.
The main thrust of the redesign, as always, is to increase both revenue and page rank. Our approach is to put the domain owner in the driver’s seat, or at least, give them the ability to do so. While some owners of Product Portal sites are content to remain relatively passive owners of the sites, an increasing percentage — and most of you readers would fall into this category — have become more active owners, trying to drive increased revenue, traffic, and page rank by taking an active hand in the care and feeding of their site. To be sure, many of the platform enhancements will benefit the more passive owner as well, but this release is centered around giving the active domainer more control over his or her sites.
One of the primary emphases is to give useful, SEO-friendly content a much more central place in the design of the site, particularly the home page. This is particular important since many of you have been writing and/or commissioning the writing of SEO-friendly content in order to help generate higher page rank. It seems a terrible waste to hide all this nice, new content.
This new section can be used in addition to, or more likely as a replacement for, the “main box” the currently anchors the top of the page. You as a site owner have control over which of these elements, or combination of elements, are included in the site; this includes the new content box, the standard main box, and the featured products box.
Each of these elements can be configured individually. For both the content and featured products boxes, you can decide whether to enter your own articles or featured products, or have those articles and/or products automatically populated by the platform itself.
We have also striven for a general look, especially of the product grid, that is significantly cleaner, all while enhancing functionality such as a more powerful filtering capability. You will also note that we will be able to flag products that are new to the site or that have had a price reduction, which should help drives both clicks and sales.
You will also notice that you as the site owner have the option of including ads on your site: in the header, the right side of the page, and above the footer. These ad blocks can be independently controlled, i.e. you can have any combination of header, footer, and right side ad blocks, from none to all three.
With respect to the storefront, another goal is to increase the visibility and use of social networking, be it for reviews, recommendations, or notifications. Consequently, we have made social networking more prominent in the product detail pages, and will also be rolling out a more unified Comments/com/Questions/com element that we think we make them far more useful.
Of course, it is critical that the admin tools give you control over all these new capabilities. But having a ton of features isn’t terribly useful if you cannot understand how to use them. We have, therefore, completely redesigned the admin capabilities and placed what we believe is a clear and easy to use interface that should help expose all the features while still making it highly approachable by even the least technical domain owner.
And all of this is being tied into the admin portfolio manager, which will be the reporting nexus for all financial and traffic/usage data. You will be able to select a domain in your portfolio and run the usual reports, but now you’ll also be able to edit your site from there as well. You will also see a general improvement in the admin portfolio manager overall.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank those of you who provided their valuable feedback during the design phase. The fruits of these labors will be rolling out during the latter half of April. I believe that this update is going to materially improve your experience as owners of Product Portals, and hope you are as excited about this as everyone at Epik is.