AskGamblers’ Website Redesign: A Case Study
Redesigning an existing website is the kind of the job most casino affiliates look at with a serious sense of dread. That’s because redesign projects can be incredibly time consuming, and very risky projects.
The stakes are high with any web redesign, but they’re even higher when you’re talking about an already very successful site like AskGamblers.com. After all, if it isn’t broken, why fix it?
Despite the inherent risks, AskGamblers founder Igor Salindrija recently took the plunge and gave his site a major overhaul. We sat down with Salindrija recently to learn more about what goes into a project of this magnitude.
Here’s what he had to say.
Inspiration & Aspiration
Salindrija is a hands-on entrepreneur who also has a real eye for design and that combination is part of the reason AskGamblers has been so successful. That notion becomes very clear when you ask Salindrija about his design philosophy:
Design has always been an important part of the AskGamblers’ story. We’ve always used the power of design to attract users, gain their trust and keep them interested. Good design makes our services user friendly and definitely helps keep the business constantly growing. To us, design is not only a matter of beauty but a matter of functionality and usability.
He’s not kidding when he says design is a lot more than beauty, Salindrija also sees it as a means of bringing a site like AskGamblers to its full potential.
To that end, he put other projects he’d been working on on hold when he decided he could take his main site a bit further:
Six months ago I was in the middle of launching a different product and I was already thinking about my next big venture. AskGamblers was already doing well, business wise, so it seemed like there wasn’t much I could do to improve it…Not much longer after that I figured I should focus on AskGamblers and bring it to its full potential before I move on to the next big thing. I had a clear vision of what I wanted it to be and focused all my resources and energy at making it happen. The goal was to make it the best possible portal in the business.
A big part of that vision involved a complete overhaul of AskGamblers’ internal framework with an emphasis on localization and mobile optimization.
The crown jewel of the redesign, however, is the new casino ranking algorithm, CasinoRank 2.0. This new algorithm was designed to intelligently rank casino based on user feedback and a host of other signals.
At the end of the day, Salindrija strove to keep his end-users in mind:
We always strive for the best possible experience to provide to our users. We listen to them all the time and are constantly looking for the ways to improve our services.
It was an ambitious undertaking, but Salindijra attacked it with relish.
So how did Salindrija move from inspiration to action? That’s a topic Salindrija is more than happy to expound on – and his enthusiasm for the subject comes through clearly when he describes his creative process:
We’ve always done everything on our own and I believe that if you need consultants, it means you don’t understand your business completely…The only thing you have to keep in mind is the end user, because he’s the one you’re making it for and he’s the one that thought you everything you now know about your product today. But you’ve got listen to your heart as well.
To get his creative juices flowing, Salindrija started off with some low-tech tools including paper, a pencil, some grapes and a gorgeous vista:
I was sitting in a house on the top of the Twin Peaks hill in San Francisco and overlooking the panoramic view of the city under the fog. It was raining for days back then, but my desire to create was still burning strong. A glass of California Chardonnay and a piece of blank paper in front of me. This blank paper was about to become what we have today as the new AskGamblers. Everything had to be written from the beginning, like it never existed before, but still taking into account the huge amount of experience and lessons learned along the way.
For the next 12 days Salindrija threw himself into the project with a devotion that bordered on obsession:
I wanted to do it non-stop, no breaks, no rest, no distractions. I wanted to go a full circle and be done with it. I was looking back and forward at the existent version of AskGamblers and took the best parts of it, analyzing the best possible approaches and practices to solving some big issues and making possible the ideas for improvement I had.
When he emerged, he had over 300 pages of precisely detailed notes and sketches and a clear vision for the new sight would look like. After a California road trip to clear his head, Salindrija returned to work, ready to face one of the biggest challenges of his career.
Back at the office, Salindrija’s design team, which included graphic designers and web developers worked off of a brand guidelines bible to help keep them on track as they tackled the massive project. For his part, Salindrija worked on the artistic side of the project and left the more technical details to the developers.
It was an exhaustive process that included plenty of hands-on work from Salindrija as he painstakingly worked to see his vision for a simple, yet innovative, design come to life:
I wanted the new design to have three vital elements: functionality, simplicity and usability. Each segment was designed and tested on 6-7 different devices and different resolutions before it was accepted as final.
Despite the massive technical and operational challenges associated with a project of this caliber, Salindrija says the biggest challenge he faced was simply transferring the vision in his head onto a computer screen.
Now that it’s done, he says he’s very happy with how it turned out and is glad he took the plunge:
I must say that it turned out even better than I had imagined. I always believed that if you could imagine something, you can make it happen.
There’s no way of making a project of this kind look enjoyable but, if tackled with the sort of enthusiasm and Salindrija brings to the party, it’s definitely manageable.