— August 28, 2017
Often times people come to me unhappy with their websites. They know my company does a lot of work with WordPress sites, so their initial thought is to have us blow up the site and start from scratch. The truth of the matter is, from a business standpoint I’d be better off probably doing what they asked. However, I have often found that many sites are better than the person may think. But, because of lazy or less than stellar developers, who don’t always take advantage of the features available to them in themes, websites end up lacking. We also see many firms don’t use good usability practices which hurts a site as they are missing needed website pages & components.
Recently I had a company come to me, (I won’t mention the company name as I do not want to insult the former programmer) they were so unhappy with the development work on their site, as they spent quite a bit of money on the project. My first thought looking at it was, this isn’t horrible, just a bit blah. In investigating this site, I took a look at the theme the developer used to build the site. Is one of the better premium themes out there, but they really didn’t take advantage of so much that makes the theme great. (The one problem with premium themes is they really get a bit heavy as they throw everything in including the kitchen sink. But there are a lot of good features built in and I just try to use exactly what is needed to make us site successful) So, I recommended to the company, not to blow up the site, and to save money and let us just tweak it. I felt that I could make this site very professional, and add a bit of flair that was missing. Another issue they were having was extremely poor performance and the site was even failing to load and timing out.
The company in question provides a design function, (without giving away too much) so the one thing you want to do is show big and bold imagery. Instead they had a slider that had no call to action and you showed some small examples of the company work. While it was okay, they were missing the point of a slider in general. You need to lead people to the important parts of your website. I don’t believe in having more than a few slides as I think they get missed. Sliders are overused, and have become the flash of this decade. But used correctly sliders are a good tool and especially for somebody trying to promote how cool their design work it is. In this particular case we used three slides with excellent images, that really showed off this companies ability and all have a call to action link brining visitors into key pages.
The other thing I tend to do when I take over managing a website is look for the essentials. This particular example was missing two of the pages that every website should have, or at least every service company. You should always have an about type page. People want to know whom they’re doing business with and learn about a company’s experience. Obviously a company with 15 or 20 years experience has a lot more cachet than someone who is new to the business and has no reputation. Also, a services page is a must. Now in this case they had example galleries but there was no single place where somebody could go to see all of the services offered by this company. Lastly the company had no facility to show Company news or to announce new projects, etc etc. Well, when you have a site built in WordPress, this is absolutely ridiculous. You have the best blogging software on the planet at your disposal. So for this company who was concerned about their search engine optimization and rankings, has no way to grow the site via content. Anyone who knows me, knows my feeling on search engine optimization. I have a very simple take, add consistent quality content around your subject matter expertise. It is simple yet effective and our clients see results and will vouch for us. We have no tricks, we do what Google and other search engines ask for and never use methods which are not considered white hat practices.
As far as the performance issues, they were remedied by switching to our best in class hosting which is geared to WordPress. We also updated their theme and plugin files, which hadn’t been done in a while. The site is loading 40-50% faster and the issues they were seeing are gone.
So, as I said from a business standpoint we would’ve made much more money by just blowing up the site and starting from scratch. But I always take the long view in business and do what is right for my clients. I saved the client money, they were thrilled with the results, and my hope is they are a long-term hosting and maintenance client.
Note: There are times when we look at sites and they do in fact need more than tweaking. If we see your theme is lousy or no longer being updated we will advise switching to a new theme. (themes which stop offering updates can be ripe for hackers, and our number 1 concern is keeping your site safe.) But, even if we have to switch themes, If your content and search rankings are good, you can still save money as it is far less expensive than starting from scratch. Modern themes are more frameworks than the old days where every site using a given theme looked cookie cutter and unoriginal. Today you can design virtually whatever you want. If not we can also design a custom theme however that is more time consuming and can cost a lot more to design and build.