The Gardner Institute

The Gardner Institute is an established professional coaching business located in Dallas, TX. Helmed by thought-leader Dr. Jayne Gardner, their mission is to provide resources, workshops, classes, and reading materials that help people improve their personal, professional, and spiritual lives.

File under: branding, redesign, user experience, content design, user research, information architecture design, search optimization

The Task

As a seasoned professional speaker and instructor, Dr. Gardner was an impressive presence in person, but noticed a breakdown in her businesses online presence. I walked them through a re-brand process, determining target user personas, messaging, content archetypes for those users, content topics, and guidelines for delivering that to their users across their web properties.

We identified several points of confusion from our own research, user surveys, feedback from previous customers, and input from stakeholders:

  1. Too much conflicting messaging on the homepage, no clear ask or call to action
  2. General lack of organization among the site’s Information Architecture, specifically among the hierarchy of their products and certifications
  3. Branding conflicts between the personality (Dr. Gardner) and the business (The Gardner Institute), the most egregious example of that is that they had two separate Facebook pages cross posting the same content
  4. Lack of internal terminology when talking about classes, projects, workshops, and other products, resulting in confusion among the stakeholders as well as the client
  5. No consistent clear voice
  6. As a secondary issue, we also wanted to give the website a softer more modern aesthetic

The Work

Over a several month period, we worked directly with the stakeholders to determine a core value. Previously, the site used the phrase “life coaching” broadly even though they offer a specific type of personal and professional mentorship.

Worried about excluding various users who were undecided in finding a life coach, they used this blanket term to account for all types of coaching, resulting in ambiguity on what they actually did.

Through several meetings, we identified that their core value was a “spiritual” type of coach training or mentorship that can be applied to the client’s personal, professional, and spiritual life, hence the tagline, “spiritual advancement” front and center on the homepage.

Based on user research we determined that there were three core personas to target at various stages in the Gardner Institute’s sales funnel.

Based on those personas we were able to present a reorganized Information Architecture and wireframes that would allow us to prioritize the new messaging.

You’ll notice that some of the proposed changes in our mockup were iterated upon after feedback from the client and further narrowing of our messaging and target audience.

The Results

Through strategy and outlining clear content archetypes, we’ve helped the Gardner Institute harmonize the messaging across their site, newsletter, and Facebook page, helping them publish targeted content with a purpose. Over a 6 month period, we’ve improved the site in several key aspects:

SESSIONS: UP 69%

USERS: UP 79%

PAGEVIEWS: UP 14%

PERCENT NEW USERS: UP 5%

*data from Google Analytics 

Here are the specifics comparing June 2016 to January 2016:

– Sessions: 1,988 vs. 1,172
– Users: 1,683 vs. 939
– Pageviews: 3,509 vs. 3,078
– % New Sessions: 80.03% vs. 76.02%

Additionally, we’ve helped them maximize the ROI on their ad budget with dollars going to targeted markets and increasing brand awareness. As a result, they have increased sales of their book, Divine Intelligence, selling 38 so far in 2016 compared to 5 throughout 2015.

A well-researched and consistent content strategy has improved engagement with new content, specifically published on the blog.

From a user experience and design perspective we provided the Gardner Institute with cleaner, softer feel for the homepage that clearly lays out the Gardner Institute’s main value to its customers and how they can utilize it.

From the client:

  • Chris has done an amazing job. He gets things done as well as brings great ideas to the table on a regular basis. He is a great team player and is very proactive when coming up with ideas on how to bring in more money.

    Kelley McElreathGardner Institute / Marketing Director