We’ve been working with Jericho Writers for a few months now, getting to know their very complicated WordPress membership site.

If you’re not familiar with Jericho Writers, they’re a passionate team offering a host of services to help budding authors get published. The team consists of a lot of successful authors – the Chairman is Harry Bingham and the Managing Director is Sophie Flynn – so their advice and guidance is incredibly insightful.

The site allows people to join an online community, attend online events, enrole on courses, book mentoring sessions, purchase manuscript review services, and watch a wealth of online videos via a membership subscription. That’s a lot of different actions on one WordPress! As can be the way when a lot of plugins are used, things had gotten a little complicated behind the scenes so we’re gradually making things more streamlined with the JW team to give a smoother user experience to their visitors. There’s always a lot to get to know when you inherit a complicated website – as there’s never one fixed way to do things, and decision upon decision will have been made over the years that has taken the code this way and that; but as technical PHP programmers we can always get to the heart of any issues and unpick what’s going on to make things flow smoothly.

Meanwhile though, they needed a new home page! So along with the serious technical behind-the-scenes stuff, we’ve also been working on some pretty stuff!

Their old home page was quite lacking in information. Whilst it’s nice for a page to be interactive, there were a lot of places where you needed to mouse over a box of block colour or an image to see the text hiding beneath. This obviously isn’t great from a sales point of view. 

Jericho Writers old home page:

Our first step therefore was to work with the JW team to work out what their priorities were – which services do they wish to promote the most (and what deserves a spot on the home page even if it’s not a top priority), and what are they trying to convey about themselves as an organisation? We also needed to discuss audience as part of that audit, and – crucially – SEO (search engine optimisation). They’ve worked hard on their SEO over the years, so we planned a home page that ensured everything they’ve done so far was preserved, but with some other aspects that could take them forward further still with their presence in Google and other search engines.

We also took the opportunity to revisit which of their brand colours – as they’ve got a beautiful and varied pallete – we should lead with on the home page, so as to give Jericho Writers the vibrant introduction they deserve.

My favourite bit of the process was teasing out the particularly special gems in their offering, and ensuring these were present on the home page – such as giving a small icon and text bubble to the fact that you can book a 15 minute session with a Mentor. If you’re overwhelmed with where to start when trying to get published, then how amazing to be able to book – relatively cheaply – a 15 minute session with someone who can guide you?! Shouting about the sessions being 15 minutes lets the visitor know – without needing to add the price too – that it’s not going to break the bank as it’s only a quick chat, but that it’s “something” you can buy right here, right now and go to bed with the happy feeling that you’ve taken a step on your publishing journey!

Jericho Writers new home page, by 18a:

Another consideration was that admins need to be able to update the home page quickly and easily, giving them flexibility as they – as a very dynamic organisation, constantly running promotions and events – need to change things often, whilst it needed to be robust enough to not let a hurried update break anything. 

Going forwards, the new home page look and feel will be rolled out across the rest of the website, giving Jericho Writers a bright, exuberant new look but without the costs and resource (internal, as well as external) of a whole new website.

If you’ve got an existing website you need a hand with, or which you think could do with a face lift, please do get in touch.

Meanwhile, if you’re a budding author then do check out Jericho Writers Build your Book Month. During October 2023, you can access a range of events, courses, feedback sessions and guidance to really get you going (and if you join on a “Premium Flex” membership, it need only cost you £25). Can you tell I’m tempted?!