A Cultivated Nest Free Resource Library
Within a year of the big A Cultivated Nest website redesign, I also helped add a free resource library to the website. This page is only available to newsletter subscribers, and features free content for users to download.
UX researcher and UX designer
A Cultivated Nest- ACultivatedNest.com
- Women, primarily aged 40-60 years old
- Stay-at-home moms
- Child-free or empty nester homemakers
The project took 5 weeks to complete:
- Competitor analysis: 2 weeks
- Resource library design: 1 week
- Sendowl setup: 1 week
- Launch: 1 week
I began by speaking with Manuela, the owner of A Cultivated Nest, about what she was looking for in her free resource library, and what solutions she had already tried in the many years before I was hired. I learned that these were her main pain points:
- Hard to promote freebies when they’re distributed across several posts.
- Unable to make freebies subscriber exclusive when they’re part of the main blog.
- Hard to update and maintain freebies when they’re in many different posts.
- Sometimes users have a hard time finding the download link in blog posts.
- Non-cohesive user experience, as some of the older freebies were hosted through external sites and the newer ones were hosted on A Cultivated Nest.
With these pain points in mind, I ran a competitor analysis. I reviewed freely accessible resource libraries on other websites, and subscribed to many newsletters to gain access to subscriber exclusive libraries. I reviewed the layout of free resource libraries from a wide range of blogs and websites, including cleaning/organizing websites, finance websites, planner websites, and parenting websites. I found the following common setups:
- Long list of links on a page, sometimes with images above.
- A link to a Dropbox folder.
- A password protected blog category.
- A single page with a grid full of free products, linking to files hosted on the main site.
- A single page with a grid full of free products, linking to files hosted by a third-party.
Only the last two options seemed to provide the ease of use I was looking for, both from the perspective of the users and from the perspective of the person maintaining the library. I discussed the various options with Manuela, and she agreed that a grid was the best choice. The question then became, where to host the files and how to create the grid.
Resource library Design
Next, I went looking for plugins and services that could be used to create the grid and host the products. Using the hidden staging site version of A Cultivated Nest, I tried a couple of different options. WooCommerce is a popular eCommerce platform for WordPress, but it overcomplicated the way users would have to access the free printables. Hosting the content in the site’s media library worked, but required users to download freebies one at a time out of their browser, which seemed frustrating and inelegant. Also, I was hoping that whatever I used could later be merged into the eCommerce shop I knew Manuela wanted to add.
In the end, the perfect solution was SendOwl and a grid plugin. The grid plugin creates a single page grid with preview images and text excerpts on hover, allowing users to quickly browse all the freebies. SendOwl allows users to build a cart full of free products for a one-step checkout experience. And when the eCommerce shop was added, users could create carts that were a mix of free and paid products, allowing A Cultivated Nest to more easily use the free products to guide users toward paid products. Manuela was happy with how the library looked, and that it would work with the upcoming shop.
While a different A Cultivated Nest team member currently manages the free resource library and the SendOwl account behind it, I set it up. That’s because there are opportunities for UX design at all steps of the download process, including the checkout messages. I set up the account to ask for the least amount of information possible- just the user’s email to send them a download link. On some of the sites in my competitor analysis, I felt that too much information was being requested (like name or address) that would cause users to abandon their carts. I also added a link to the SendOwl cart to the site’s header, something that some other sites were missing in my analysis, that was a frustrating oversight. This way users can build their cart at their own speed, and easily access it when ready to check out.
When it was time for launch, A Cultivated Nest’s WordPress developers added the plugin to the main site and checked for plugin conflicts. I then copied in the preview images and text excerpts from the staging site, linked up the SendOwl products, and set a password for the page. I tested it several times with my own email addresses, then added it to the site’s navigation, making it live. I monitored the SendOwl analytics over the next few days, and saw that users were finding and using the library with no issues. The real stress test was when the A Cultivated Nest newsletter team sent out the weekly newsletter that Friday, including a link to the new free resource library. That brought in a flood of users and a lot of downloads, but no issues. The launch was a success, and the free resource library is still one of the most popular parts of A Cultivated Nest today.
Next Steps and Recommendations
Next, I would recommend the following:
- Running a survey asking users about the free resource library, to find any potential pain points.
- Running an A/B test with the current version of the library and a paginated version, to see if the current endless scroll feature is considered good or bad by users.