Latrobe Valley News


Home page of Latrobe Valley News

The project brief

The LV news was created to provide a centralised source of leading news about the region as it faces imminent challenges.

A major electricity producing area using abundant local brown coal resources, the Latrobe Valley now expects progressive closure of its coal-fired power stations.

The first closure, Hazelwood Power Station in 2017, will result in 750 job losses and cause flow-on impacts in other employment sectors. The region has hopes for a range of government supports and replacement employers.

The website aims to provide an aggregation new service so that breaking news stories will be available as soon as they are released by any one of several major news sources.

Latrobe Valley News sample
An example of the aggregated newsfeed

The design approach

The design approach included testing various news feeds and aggregation techniques in order to ensure an appropriate range of content. The subsequent “mix and match” uses 6 different feeds which regularly draw on about 10 different news sources for the majority of the content.

This investigation was a necessary preliminary to the mock up design and determining the final layout that best served the different content types.

The site has been search engine optimised to ensure that news-seekers find the site when searching for relevant issues.

The results

The site was launched in late 2016. It was a strategically planned launch with social media promotions and the site quickly rose to a peak month average of 345 daily page hits. A decline after the Christmas break.

A keyword optimisation strategy has seen the site progressively rise in Google rankings. This, in turn, is assisting new visitors to find the site and has furthered a fresh interest in the site with a recovery of visitor numbers.

The site is enhanced for mobile devices although they are currently used for less than 20% of visitors. Analysis shows the popularity of full-length news articles and videos, which is consistent with a preference for viewing the website on a larger screen size.

Check out Latrobe Valley News and bookmark it you find it useful. A form on the contact page is there for your comments or suggestions.

Deadly Sport Gippsland


Image & Link: Deadly Sport Gippsland website

The project brief

The Deadly Sport website was required to assist a Gippsland-wide sports and health program for the Aboriginal community. Program goals had been defined by the Deadly Sports team, and the strategies for achieving them were were translated into website requirements.

 The program relies on a strong social media presence and hence effective Facebook and YouTube integration were immediate needs. Feeds from YouTube were required on the home page and on a gallery page. For Facebook, a high level of interactivity was required with users able to directly engage with Facebook from the website.

 The approach

Image illustrating home page layouit features
Automated feed and content update features on the Deadly Sport home page

The home page was set up as a news site, with newly posted stories and other information being listed.

Facebook was planned as complementary social media channel, with a Facebook feed including options for likes and comments. Lesser-traffic social media services Twitter and Instagram have no feeds, only direct links.

The home page structure is shown in the image and the nature of the feed or input automation is each area is indicated.

Over time, a number of progressive revisions have helped to improve the site’s performance. Amongst them were the addition of newsletter sign-ups using an automated email management service, and also a number to changes to the Facebook feed.

The results

The program has proved to be popular and quickly gained a large number of Facebook followers. The website views quickly increased and its audience reach rapidly spread across the Gippsland region.

The site has proved to be an invaluable resource for the Deadly Sport Gippsland program by delivering multimedia content as text, images, video and audio content. As an example, the YouTube videos currently have many thousands of views each year.

Website data monitoring was an important part of the website requirements. Along with social media data, website results were monitored by the Deadly Sport team. As the program developed and gained wider audience interest, the team was alert to changes in user patterns.

Consequently, the website layout and its social media strategies have had some updates to ensure that the website more closely matches user interests and priorities.

If you’re interested in the way social media or multimedia content can be managed and provided, the Deadly Sport website is worth a look.


J Smith Motors


Image & Link: J Smith Motors website

The project brief

J Smith Motors sought a website which would provide an effective internet presence to promote their business. They wished the website to reflect their long fifty-plus years of service and experience.

A further point of emphasis would be Smith’s long-standing connection with the RACV, providing roadside assistance and a local service office. J Smith Motors thorough range of repair services was also to be displayed.

The design approach

Image: secion of the Services page
A portion of the J Smith Motors Services page

It was clear that mobile phone use and Google searches for local services were important requirements to be considered. Hence the site was optimised for local searches with both phones and computers. It was promoted to achieve a high ranking for specific search keywords and provide helpful descriptions for searchers.

Analysis of J Smith Motors’ services showed a number of strategic advantages over its competitors and the website was planned to highlight these positives.

The design structure serves to demonstrate the range of skills and expertise J Smith motors provides. An on-site photo shoot provided high quality photographs that could be used throughout the site to show the Smiths team doing different work. Elements on several pages were designed to effectively display this since demonstrations of expertise help build the reader’s trust.

The RACV connection is a further reason for confidence in J Smith Motors and is used in the masthead and other website elements to this effect.

The results

Having an online presence has gained new customers for J Smith Motors and has helped their business to grow.

As expected, there have been shifts in mobile phone use since the site was built and it has been ideally-placed for it. A significant proportion of interest comes directly from Google searches and new customers are assisted by finding sufficient information there as well as in the website pages.

J Smith Motors have since created a Facebook page and are using this in conjunction with their website to extend their online reach.

If you’re in the Morwell area and looking for a dependable mechanic, give Darren a call (51343333) at J Smith Motors!


Latrobe Music


Image & link: Latrobe Music website

The project brief

Latrobe Music is a promotional site for musical events and was a replacement for a previous website with a different domain name.

A key design criteria was to ensure a good level of “accessibility”, that is ease of use for those with disabilities. In particular, this meant ensuring excellent support for site visitors using screen reading tools. Screen readers read text, navigation information and embedded “meta” information (for example, descriptions that you might see when mousing over an image).

A further requirement was for a high level of accessibility at the back end of the website. The owner, Phillip Chalker is visually impaired and wished to edit and manage the website himself.

Image: part of the Media page
Design layout for text and images

The design approach

The WordPress framework has many accessibility features inbuilt including excellent support for screen readers. After the site was built testing showed that further accessibility enhancements would be helpful so some tailoring was done to specifically meet Phillip’s needs.

The design minimised structural components for ease of use whilst providing effective website outcomes. These include meeting website goals, effective search engine keyword rankings, having fast page load times, and good mobile device performance.

The results

Phillip is pleased with the success of his website and the degree to which he can update and edit content. New items are continually being added to its pages. He has also been able to work with images. The site has also been an effective way for widening his circle of musical contacts and attracting interest in gigs and music lessons.

From a design perspective, the site performance and search engine optimisation methods have been positive. Phillip’s renown as a musician and teacher have won him favourable reviews that have further enhanced the site’s standing in Google searches.

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