Feb. 12, 2019
I thought I would try something a little different this time. For those of you who do not write code, it's quite alright no one is perfect, and you'll do fine here. Today I want to focus on a couple of things, all while telling the story of a completely revised website. The initial call, agreement to fees and schedule and test date of the site running, took less than a week.
Background information first.
The client had been hosting their website on GoDaddy and was using the "WebsiteBuilder" originally intended for people to be able to create their own websites on GoDaddy without having to hire a website designer. Suffice it to say WebsiteBuilder has not been updated in a while and customers using it are now forced to either pay GoDaddy to put them on a WordPress site or find someone else who can redesign their site for them.
After our initial phone call, I learned the client was actually happy with their design and layout, but that because mobile was not supported on their current website they wanted a redo, with the same look and feel. You have to understand that the original website was never designed for mobile, and looked like it was designed years ago. The trick is to update it while giving it the same feel and as close to the original look as possible.
While waiting on the client to set up an account on Hostek, I went ahead and took control of the client's Google and Bing business listings. After completing all of the questions and adding some images, I requested a postcard be mailed to my client, who will then give it to me to confirm the account is legit. I set up both accounts as both me and the client as owners, and once complete, I will remove my contact unless the client decides to allow us to manage his online marketing. I then went to Facebook and created a business page, adding my client, giving us both access to edit information and images, again once complete, I will remove myself or change to a lower setting so that the client retains absolute control.
The first step in the creation of the new site was to copy all content from the current site, including text which contained invisible characters, images from the site, as well as all external links, this is a publishing company who sells their DVD's, CD's, Books, and eBooks on Amazon as well as other sites. The client told me about some additional content they would like to add, and I added those requests to my list.
I don't require clients to use a hosting company of my choosing, and I don't require that they use a convenient Content Management System. The client is the boss. Before writing a line of code or creating a WordPress website, I had to discuss with the client what format we were going with. Did they want to edit it later on their own? Did they want WordPress or no WordPress? Luckily we are going with a clean coded site using ColdFusion from Adobe. ColdFusion allows for database integration and using Adobe Dreamweaver, along with Adobe Photoshop, I find it quite easy.
The next step was to clean up the images, straighten out photos, and remove background noise; following up with compression with minimal loss averaging 20-75% reduction using Adobe Photoshop exporting to JPG. I then saved the image names to what would make sense when putting the site together. There were four categories of images, page header, DVD's, CD's, and eBooks. Not every page had all four and so I created a generic "Header" collage of all of the other images, which I designed in wide format, square format, and a copy for the clients Facebook Business banner page.
Page assembly was relatively easy as well. I was going to keep the client's menu in the same order as before, except for one link, it was out of order, and having it appear so that on each page the "page name" was highlighted in red making it easier to navigate the website. In order to cut down on load time, I made the "Hamburger" icon and saved it as a JPG so that it wouldn't have to call a script on each page load.
Since the format was relatively the same for each of the secondary pages, I decided that a little time needed to be spent trying out different ideas, looking for the best option without a completely new look. So I placed the copy regarding the product on the left, and created an image bar with pictures of the products and linking them to the appropriate website pages on Amazon and other websites. Each linked item was checked at the completion of the page to make sure the correct product was linked to the first time out. Finishing off I added a "share this page" and coded the pages when shared to provide the correct content, images, and links to the social sites.
The bottom of the page I decided to add a link to Amazon and to the Kindle eBooks separately but using the client's Amazon codes so the user could select multiple items at once in either case. Of course, each page and its products linked directly but having the ability to see all the available items may induce them to purchase more than one of the products. I also included a formal bottom of the page with the corporate ID and address and Associations, etc.
I also chose to add a contact page instead of the client's general email box, no need to invite spam. I also added a YouTube video from the client and links to client's new social business page, removing the link to the author's personal page.
The client loves the redesign, and we'll find out once it goes live how much the search engines and my SEO software audit report went. But the initial statistics are encouraging, page load time less than one second compared to more than three seconds on the previous site. Navigation is cleaner, the images are cleaner, no invisible characters, and it looks just as good on my mobile phone.