How do you turn a zombified news website into a winner? When a website is dead in the water, is there a way to revive it?

We weren’t sure at first, but over a year after performing emergency surgery on, we know the answer is yes. Yes—you can revive a website that is on life support. Yes—you can turn that website into a winner. The proof is in the numbers.

One million page views

That’s the boundary that Point5Digital crossed just under a year after their redeveloped responsive website launched. The year before, the U.S.-based regional news website barely limped across the 250,000 page view threshold. That’s a four-fold increase in web traffic, and it has helped Point5Digital rise from the grave to become a major player in their media market: a player that is capable of bringing in tens of thousand of page views in just a few minutes thanks to a mobile-friendly website built with WordPress. Point5Digital is now a recognised media outlet that routinely scoops major, television-sponsored news outlets in their market.

But getting their website to that point was grizzly work that involved serious strategic discussions with the company’s owners. It meant telling powerful people some things that they didn’t want to hear. They had a news website with dwindling web traffic. A problematic posting system that infuriated reporters, an ad agency that was steering them in the wrong direction, and zero integration with social media—a myriad of problems faced the Point5Digital team when we first met (over Skype) to devise a solution.

At Metal Potato, we are problem solvers, and Point5Digital was a veritable minotaur’s maze. Joe Sills – Metal Potato North America

Above all quandaries, the spectre of a custom, military-grade content management system loomed over this project. It was a system that was devised to discourage search engine results and social media integration; it was a system that had to go. We knew the results Point5Digital was looking for. They wanted to become a serious digital media player in their market, they wanted their reporters to be able to post on-the-fly from the field, and they wanted anyone on any device to be able to read the news the instant it broke.

A Responsive Website. It was always the answer!

But because Point5Digital caters to a very specific audience—small town audiences scattered throughout rural Tennessee— this mobile-friendly website needed to be custom built for their needs. Our spuds were tasked with straightening out the maze by integrating seven separate digital domains (one for each town, each featuring a complex login system) into a single, easy-to-use news machine.

Integration instantly solved a major problem by allowing reporters in the field to logon to their website and publish from mobile devices or laptops. Using one website. Not seven. But news, even in the rural United States, is not relegated to local stories. Point5Digital still needed national news on their website to be brought in via their national partner, the Associated Press.

Enter the minotaur

The Associated Press (AP) is one of the most highly regarded news agencies in the world. However, integrating their RSS-based news feed with the imagery needed for Point5Digital’s new design was problematic due to the way they attach images to their stories. And because news websites that are image-rich receive 95% more traffic than text-based sites, we knew that integrating the AP’s RSS-feed with only copy would never work.

So our developers whipped up an image-ready, custom WordPress solution that brings national news to Point5Digital in full life. Essentially, we enabled Point5Digital to skim each story on an RSS feed for an image, downloaded a copy of that image and attach it as the main photograph to the story when published. It was a needed workaround that both solved our client’s problem and kept them on the forefront of national news.

Minotaur slayed

With fully functioning local reporters in the field and image-heavy national news from the Associated Press, Point5Digital was ready to breathe again. Almost overnight, the website’s fortunes turned around. News from their new, responsive website was being shared across social media and inboxes.

In month one of the redesign, traffic doubled. By month three, Point5Digital had eclipsed their entire previous year’s web traffic. Joe Sills – Metal Potato North America

The layout, custom-designed to the business owner’s goals (with a little input from their newfound knowledge of responsive web design) was a hit. And, finally, the website was doing what it needed to—bring in page views and generate ad sales.

A quick look at today shows that the proof is in the pudding. You really can bring a website back from the dead. And revival starts with a new responsive WordPress website from Metal Potato.

If you think your website could use a big boost in annual web traffic and revenue, Feel free to get in touch to discover more about the range of services we offer and how we can assist you in achieving online success.