First Manuscript Project

Website Design, Logo Design, Newsletter Design and Search Engine Optimization

First Manuscript Project - New Website Design

The Challenge

Author Dax MacGregor had been blogging about creative writing for a number of years on his website First Manuscript. His site’s original design, while still functional, had grown dated. Dax wanted the site redesigned from scratch, including:

  • a new logo
  • brighter color palette
  • large featured images for every blog post
  • newsletters generated automatically when new blog posts are published
  • be able to view the site from tablets and smartphones
  • easy for visitors to share pages on social networks
  • higher rankings in search engines

Our Solution

TRG Web Designs collaborated with Dax to understand his vision for the website, offering ideas and options for consideration, and then implemented a fresh design for the sites and his newsletters with the features described below.

Logo Design

First Manuscript’s original logo simply consisted of the words. TRG Web Designs worked with Dax to design a new logo that was simple, distinctive and memorable.

First Manuscript - Old Logo

Old Logo Design

First Manuscript - New Logo

New Logo Design

Home Page Design

In our redesign of the First Manuscript Home Page we:

  • eliminated the bookmark theme with it’s dated layered appearance, shadow effects and small fonts
  • implemented a clean, flat theme that made more effective use of the width of the page and featured larger fonts
  • replaced the grey background with white
  • incorporated a soft blue accent color
  • transformed the index of blog posts from a list to a card-style layout with bigger images
  • removed the sidebar
First Manuscript - Old Home Page Design

Old Home Page Design

First Manuscript - New Home Page Design

New Home Page Design

Blog Post Page Design

Most of First Manuscript’s visitors arrive directly on blog post pages. We improved their design by:

  • Moving the menus to the top of the page
  • Widening the content area
  • Moving the social follow icons to the blue stripe at the top
  • Increasing the size of featured images
  • Adding more space between paragraphs
First Manuscript - Old Blog Page Design

Old Blog Post Page

First Manuscript - Old Home Page Design

New Blog Post Page

Responsive Website Design

Works on Tablets and Smartphones

We incorporated responsive website design concepts so the new site works effectively on tablets and smartphones.

The new website detects the size of the user’s screen and formats the pages for that specific device. Which means that visitors can browse the site from any device.

First Manuscript's Responsive Design Examples

Newsletter Design

Before the redesign, Dax hadn’t published newsletters. We introduced Dax to MailChimp, where we designed a simple newsletter, which we integrated with the website so that newsletters are automatically generated weekly containing his new blog posts.

New First Manuscript Newsletter

Search Engine Optimization

When we redeigned the website, we also installed search engine optimization (SEO) tools. We configured the site to improve page rankings and we taught Dax how to use these tools to optimize new blog posts before his publishes them. Since then, organic traffic from search engines have skyrocketed and represent two-thirds of the total traffic. (Organic search engine traffic generate from listings that are unpaid.)

First Manuscript traffic increase after SEO improvements

Other Website Design Services


We implemented a caching engine to improve website performance by decreasing the load time for pages and images.

Cloud Backup

We scheduled backups of the website through the cloud. This enables us to recover the site quickly, if ever needed.


We provided training on adding new blog posts, publishing newsletters and everything else needed to manage the website.



Increase in Page Views

Comparing the twelve months before and after we implemented the new website, the number of pages viewed by website visitors increased from 2,836 to 14,831, an increase of 523%. In fact, the number of page views served last month exceeded the number served in the entire year before the redesign. The graph below shows the explosion in traffic during 2015.

First Manuscript's huge increase in page views

Our Process

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