I’m working with three website clients right now, building new sites to replace those that were badly planned, built and orchestrated, unable to meet their needs. These clients reached out to me for advice, and after weighing the options, we determined that it makes the more sense to start fresh with a completely new site than to try to rehab the old one. Every site has a shelf life and ultimately needs to be replaced, but these sites were launched within the last year or so. This is just plain wrong.
Every business owner knows how consuming a website project can be
It takes considerable time to identify a template, refine a navigation schematic, develop content, identify, purchase and upload images. Meetings and review cycles. It’s a huge investment of time and money, and you hope that your site will last for at least a few years. To have to redo these sites within a year’s time means a lot of wasted time and money.
Here are two examples of mismanaged website projects
This site was built in Joomla. It’s clumsy and inaccessible. The so-called developer made a big deal about his crack team of developers and designers, but the “design” is amateurish and succeeds only in using up a lot of the site’s real estate. The bigger problem is that the developer didn’t act as an adviser to his client, helping her identify a value proposition, a strong call to action for each page, and making sure that her content was working for her.
He didn’t follow any of the best practices that help a site show up in search engines—doing keyword research, then weaving those words and phrases into the landing pages, filling out fields for metadescriptions and keywords, labeling images with the company name, then identifying alt tags, using H1 and H2 tags for headers and subheads. These are things we always do for our clients—they’re small things, but collectively, they add up and make a difference.
The bigger problem is Joomla
This platform feels like it hasn’t been updated in ten years—or maybe he just hasn’t updated his version!
- The text editor won’t create bullets and it’s hard to manipulate text. I would have been happy to go in and update fields myself, but I couldn’t figure out how to get around in this platform. I’ve been working in WordPress for four years, and I’ve worked in 3 other website platforms, so I’m pretty savvy, but this was elusive, and, in fact, Joomla isn’t known for its accessibility.
- While this site was built a year and a half ago, it was not a responsive design, and doesn’t adapt to the array of digital devices on which users are viewing the internet these days.
- The developer was charging my client $150/month for hosting and edits, though she never made any. I hate this costing model, much preferring the pay-as-you go methodology so you know exactly what you’re paying for.
- But the biggest issue? He disappeared for weeks, then months without anyone’s being able to get hold of him. My client is not a tech-savvy person and had no idea how to get into the site to make changes, and the developer left no backup person to handle these kinds of problems in his absence. This is simply not acceptable.
A new WordPress site
We finally decided that we needed to build a new site in WordPress that we could access and control. We worked with my longtime collaborator, someone who is responsive and responsible, and who had the site up and running within a month. The ongoing cost is significantly less than what she was paying before, but best of all, we can now easily make changes to the site, uploading new images, files, adding new pages and swapping out text. It’s a relief to have this back in in an environment where we own the site, a responsive design that will work for us for a long time.
Just a year ago, this client had worked with a graphic designer who’d designed his logo and website, building it as a one-page site in HTML. A one-page site has limited SEO value—you lose the advantage of having individual landing pages with unique urls that tell people what you do. Since these are generally the words or phrases (keywords) that people would be keying into search engines to find you, you’re missing some important opportunities.
Nowhere to go from here
Since the site wasn’t built in an accessible platform such as WordPress, we didn’t have the ability to upgrade the site. I understand budgets, and I’m happy to work with clients who need to build their sites in a phased approach. On several occasions, I’ve worked with clients to develop a single-page WordPress site, for instance, giving them a web presence, describing what they do, providing contact information, etc. When they’re ready, we can add new landing pages, images, a blog, etc.,
As with Client #1, it was time to cut our losses and build a new site in WordPress where he would have the flexibility to manage the site to accommodate his needs. The tragedy was that if the site had been built in WordPress to begin with, we could have built from that foundation, so once again, the client wasted a lot of time and money and was not properly advised by his web designer.
Time for a new name with some name recognition
But there was another issue here. Client #2 was a relatively new business owner and had selected a name for his company that was abstract, and the name didn’t reference his industry, so that if I saw his business card, there would be no immediate understanding of what he did for a living. You don’t want to make it any harder than it already is to build a business and attract new clients. I suggested that as long as he was redoing his website, it might be time to rethink the name of his business. It would really represent a small investment—new business cards and sign. The benefits to this—a straightforward name that makes it very clear what he does outweighs the relatively minor cost and inconvenience of getting some new cards and signs.
Savvy marketing strategist
While my core competency is writing, I’m also a savvy strategist with more than 35+ years of comprehensive marketing experience. When I work with my clients, I’m focusing on the project at hand, but I also look at how this integrates into the larger picture. I help my clients maximize their marketing dollars, and I am committed to providing value. Not every web designer has this same ethic, unfortunately, and it’s the client who pays the price.