In early August 2019, we got a call at Bilberrry, the digital agency I run, from Charlie Bresler, the Executive Director of The Life You Can Save. He’d landed a grant to fund launching the 10th Anniversary Edition of Peter Singer’s landmark book The Life You Can Save, and was looking for a team to help promote the free ebook and audiobook versions on this website.
Our agency was blown away by the book’s argument for effective giving and The Life You Can Save’s mission to reduce global poverty. We couldn’t wait to help create a new digital experience to support both the immediate needs — a huge number of book downloads — as well as the broader goal of driving more donations to nonprofits that do the most good.
By Giving Tuesday, we would modernize the website’s user experience, streamline its messaging, and amp up conversions — and officially launch the 10th Anniversary Edition of the book. While we were at it, we would also create a flexible, user-friendly content management system on top of a solid infrastructure built for thousands of simultaneous file downloads. (All of this only 13 weeks from kick-off!)
Here’s a peek behind the scenes of how we made it happen.
A modern, streamlined site with an easy-to-update backend
The Life You Can Save is all about making smart giving simple, and that was our north star as we redesigned the website. It originally had a sprawling main menu housing 117 links, plus page after page of resources, stories, games, quizzes, and educational content. Simply put: the primary goals — getting donations and distributing the book — had too much competition.
Our first step was to focus the navigation by deprioritizing any messages that distracted from book downloads or donations. We collaborated with the team at The Life You Can Save to shave a whopping 49% of pages off the original.
Then, we focused on updating the content of each page. To build trust and increase conversions, we wanted a blend of aspirational copy and grounded explanations. Often, this was simply a matter of synthesizing The Life You Can Save’s robust catalog of existing content to create compelling, concise pieces of information that helped readers quickly understand the need for effective giving, the life-changing impact a donation could make, and why The Life You Can Save’s recommended charities are among the best in the world.
From there, it was all about design. The new, streamlined site is polished and persuasive, featuring a fresh, contemporary look, easy-to-navigate structure, and smart SEO.
We also migrated the site (including a six-year archive of blog posts) to WordPress, allowing the site’s content, tools, and Australian sister site to live in a single, unified backend. Then we designed and developed more than 25 unique content modules that anyone at The Life You Can Save could use to publish new pages and update existing ones. Making changes and adding content now takes just minutes.
A content delivery network to guarantee a frictionless download experience
The Life You Can Save book was posed to launch with a bang. It had been heavily marketed and there was major PR buzz, especially considering the free audiobook download featured celebrity narrators like Kristen Bell, Paul Simon, and Stephen Fry — whose combined Instagram following is over 13.8 million. We needed to be prepared for a lot of people requesting an enormous MP3 file at the same time without clogging the pipes. If we didn’t, downloading the files would be unacceptably slow, and it could compromise the performance of the rest of the website.
We solved this by creating a CDN that hosts and distributes the audiobook files on a separate virtual network. To date, we’ve delivered over 45,000 audiobook files without any technical hiccups.
A short timeline with incredible results
One of the most notable aspects of The Life You Can Save website redesign is the turnaround time: just 13 weeks from kickoff, through discovery and design, to launch. In a perfect world, we’d have 13 weeks for the development alone.
Our work and collaboration with Charlie and his team paid off. The week of the book launch, The Life You Can Save increased donations by 70% year-over-year, and six weeks later, on-site stats were still up: +86% organic sessions, +9% average session duration, and –15% bounce rate.
We’re thrilled with the results, and proud to be a partner with The Life You Can Save on its mission to change the lives of those in extreme poverty.