This case study will look at the analytics before and after the July 2017 launch of the new Genesis Child Theme for We’ll study what made the difference in the pages per session metric and how you might get the same results.

TheBigMamaBlog Background

Melanie Shankle has been writing the BigMama blog since 2006 from her home in Texas with her husband and daughter (who referred to her as “Big Mama” since “big girl” was such a good thing). Melanie is what most bloggers want to be one day… a consistent, skilled writer with a following that loves her. After a few years she caught the attention of major publishers and has just released her fourth book, The Church of the Small Things.

She has a huge following on her blog, and between 18.5k – 23.5k followers on each social media account.

The Design Evolution

These first designs are from 2010 & 2012. Drop shadows were all the rage! 2010 – 2012

And these are from 2014 and 2016. In 2014 I was so excited that we had the ability to use drop-caps in CSS!

And when Melanie started publishing books she had to start considering her personal brand. In the 2016 design, we added her name in order to keep her recognizable header. 2016 2016

The next design was a big move for Melanie – we were moving closer to branding her as an author; while keeping the most recent posts on the home page – as the readers had come to expect.

The design needed to:

  • add a new focus on email capture
  • continue to provide readers with a post-first experience.
  • remain unfocused on photography
  • provide easy access to the new events/speaking area, new podcast focus, blog, and new books section

In this design we switched to brand the site with her signature. Both domains still resolve to the same site.

We kept her bright color palette.

We kept the focus on her writing (without any photos) – the photo you see here is permanent.

The categories atop the post title help make navigation easier to more sections of the site. We also added custom category buttons, 3 call-to-actions and a site-wide banner above the footer.

To see more of Melanie’s site, visit the portfolio or

TheBigMamaBlog Results

The new design launched July 17, 2017. This screenshot compares the month following the launch compared to the same period a year earlier.



Unfortunately bloggers everywhere have seen a decline in readership. This blog is no exception. This makes the percentages even more applicable. The website doesn’t get people to visit but it should draw those who do visit into action.

New Sessions

Of those that did visit, 16% were new sessions, meaning SEO and other marketing endeavors worked well. Although it takes a lot more than a website to do well in search engine results, an increase of 18% isn’t too shabby.

Bounce Rate

I was 100% sure we would decrease the bounce rate with this design. It was designed to do so – and to increase pages per visit. And we did! I’m geeking out over this decrease of 42%!!! She went from a bounce rate of 82% to 47%! Now, when those people land on the site, they know they are where they want to be and stick around!

Pages per Visit

This was another metric I was 100% sure we could improve with a redesign. We took the pages per visit from 1.3 to 2.1! That’s an increase of 53%. And referral traffic went up to 70% MORE page views!!


I may sound confident when I’m proposing design changes (it comes from a lot of research and experience) but I can’t help but get excited every time I see real solid numbers. So expect to see these case studies more often!



Beginner Checklist

If you’re starting out, you’ll love our comprehensive 52 point checklist for your website! Read through once, and then work on items one at a time as it comes up!

52 Edits Checklist – beginners categories

Cathy Mitchell

Single Mom, Lifelong Learner, Jesus Follower, Founder and CEO at WPBarista.