Popular Romance Project Redesign


The Challenge

To redesign the site to make it easier for users to find content of interest to them, resurface earlier content, and increase onsite and social media engagement.
Interested in working with us? Drop us a line.

At A Glance

Blueberry Hill Productions, International Association for the Study of Popular Romance (IASPR), Center for the Book

2012; relaunched 2014


Content Research and Development, Design, Strategy



  • The site’s bounce rate dropped below 5%
  • Number of page views and time on page increased 2- to 4-fold.
  • The site was profiled in features in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Library Journal.
  • PRP’s Twitter following increased 150% and Facebook reach nearly tripled.

Project Narrative

The site “addresses what popular romance is in the most sophisticated, accurate, and comprehensive way that I have seen.”
—Pamela Regis, Chronicle of Higher Education, August 12, 2013

The original version of the site was popular, but informal user research suggested that it was not reaching users in some of its main target audiences. As a result, RRCHNM embarked on a months-long effort to overhaul the site.

We re-imagined the information architecture and developed a user survey that was widely distributed in the popular romance online community. It enabled us to get a clearer picture of the interests of various audience groups, from romance novel fans to authors, scholars, professors, and industry professionals.

We reorganized the existing content into topics that made sense to each audience. Topic landing pages provided an overview of the content. We added an additional navigation path through the site content, a set of questions that visitors could explore. We added a way for users to find videos with, or articles from, their favorite authors, and added sidebar widgets to show popular posts and related posts by category, all ways to increase the time spent on the site, and made it easier to share content on social media.

During the redesign process, we added a number of features to the live site to increase engagement and improve search engine optimization, including adding comment subscription to encourage ongoing conversations on posts; overhauling tagging to reflect popular search engine keywords; and adding popular topics to the home page.

We also developed a formal strategic social media marketing plan, focusing on key messages and creating content appropriate for different channels; for example, we created several infographics and posters to share on Pinterest and cross-post to Facebook. To support the social media strategy, we installed a number of tools to facilitate scheduling of posts and monitoring of impact.

The site refresh came with a number of ways to improve the user experience, explained in the About the Site page, below left. We also created print collateral for use in meetings and as promotional items, such as the bookmark shown below right.