Behind the Scenes of a Website Makeover – PART IIBy Kristie Tamsevicius
In Part I we took a brief look at the process of doing a web site makeover. We discussed getting the job, the problems with the existing site, pricing the job, and creating and presenting the client an action plan of recommended changes for the site. If you missed last week’s issue, you can read it here.
Read along as we learn more about the web site make over project.
Now for the Work
We met over the phone and I laid out an extensive list of recommendations for her site in the following areas: New graphics, improved navigation, improved content, and search engine tactics. First I offered Joanne a brief action plan. Then I detailed the specific wording, formatting, and graphic changes I would make to each page along with the other recommendations. Click here to see a detailed set of recommendations.
Here’s part of the note I sent Joanne about what to expect during the project:
Joanne, I can’t say enough how excited I am to have the privilege of working with you.
Here’s a quick run down of our action plan:
- Create new graphic concept
- Upon approval of graphics, apply them to existing site
- Redevelop, rewrite, and reformat web pages
- Develop Meta tags for site (modify your existing ones) and apply to ALL pages of site
- Register you with the top search engines. We’ll mass submit you to the Top 400 search engines and HAND submit you to the 10 key directories and search engines.
Outsourcing Part of the Job
In our design shop, I act as head of sales, creative director, writer, and search engine specialist. I do the work I enjoy and have a strong skill set for. They always say "Do what you do best and outsource the rest!" So, I outsource the graphics to a graphic design team. This way my client’s enjoy a higher quality of graphics than I could provide and I get to spend more time working on the other aspects of their site.
Discovering a Look That Fits
I asked Joanne what she wanted her site to look and feel like. She said that she liked the purple color scheme she had going and that it truly identified her persona. I suggested that we keep with the theme of dreams, dream catchers, night-time, etc and look for a color scheme that complemented her existing colors.
We created a concept image: Concept 1
While Joanne liked this, she wanted us to swap out the little girl for a stronger more adult image, so we changed it to this little man holder a star. Concept 2
She loved this and we went into production!
THE TRANSFORMATION BEGINS
With new graphics in hand, I set about to apply these graphics to her existing web pages. First, I downloaded all of her existing files so we could begin work. Then, I renamed her FILES so they included keywords in them. For example, her bio page was called Jjbio.htm I changed it to about.htm. Using page names with keywords can improve your ranking in the search engines.
Next, I created a template with the NEW GRAPHICS and then applied the graphics to her pages. I edit with Macromedia Dreamweaver. By creating a template file with server side includes, I can simply create a new page from the template and just paste in the content from each page and resave it. PRESTO – a once plain page is instantly transformed with new graphics in a couple of clicks of a button.
After that, I started working on the NEXT layer of change by IMPROVING THE CONTENT. I worked over the pages improving page layout and embellishing copy as I saw fit incorporating the changes I mentioned in the detailed plan to Joanne. Then, I uploaded for the client to see. We then worked together over the phone, to finalize the web copy so that it truly reflected the feel of her business.
After making all these changes we both decided to add a resources page and a free teleclasses page to add value for her visitors. Here we placed links to a couple of articles, some recommended books (with Amazon links to bring her commissions of course), and some helpful links. Joanne insisted that I place a link for my web design services here. I gladly obliged.
These new changes resulted in an additional $250 or so in fees to which she gladly agreed.
On to the Search Engines
Now that the site looks and reads better, we need to get it search engine ready. I offered some suggestions for an improved keyword and description Meta tag. We placed these new keyword and description tags on every page of the site. I also added individualized title tags to each page.
After uploading the search engine ready pages to the server, I registered her with the Top 40 search engines. Then the next day, I hand submitted to the BIG search engines: Yahoo local, Anzwers Canada, Excite, Alta Vista, Infoseek, Hot Bot, Direct Hit, What U Seek, and Open Directory Project/DMOZ.org.
It’s important to manage client expectations by telling them that it often takes from 4 to 6 weeks for most search engines to add a new site to their directory listings. Joanne knew not to expect overnight results.
Additionally, I offered Joanne information about our Top 30 paid search engine-positioning program and pay per click listing such as GoTo.com to bring traffic to her site. But I told her, that honestly the top methods of bringing traffic to my site are by submitting articles to other publications, publishing an ezine newsletter, and client referrals. Joanne agreed and promised to set up an ezine to attract and communicate with current and potentially new clients.
The Client Reaction
Joanne was SO excited about the changes to her web site. She couldn’t believe the difference. And somehow making over the site gave her a new boost of enthusiasm for building her business!
VOILA!! And at last I would like to unveil the final completed project. I invite you to take a peek at Joanne’s new "home" on the web at www.JJDreamcatchers.com.
Joanne’s site is complete! From head to toe, we have overhauled every aspect of her site. She has a new professional look. Her web copy is much more savvy and inviting. Visitors can much more easily navigate her site. And visitors can now FIND her in the search engines.
With a flood of developers to choose from, I think that web developers who succeed will be the ones who offer exceptional personalized service! Web developers create more than web sites, through setting up an online business, we ensure the fulfillment of our client’s dreams.
My secret to success is that I do all I can to ensure the success of my clients AFTER the launch of the web site. This total approach to web design from web copy, to search engine placement, to recommending promotional strategies is what has afforded me a long and loyal list of clients.
Another site done, another happy customer.