Birth of a Website

Websites are constantly evolving. It’s the nature of the beast. Even as a website is launched, new technologies are being introduced to make it obsolete. Our last website was up for almost five years. It was so out of date, the links began to break. But that’s how it goes when you are your own client.

Our process began in 2014 when we started identifying keywords to inform what would become our new website. Then, we got busy with client work. (There were U.S. Open and U.S. Women’s Open Championships to market, after all). We picked it back up in April of 2015. Copy was written by July. But, again, we lost our momentum.

By the end of 2015, we were determined to create our new website. The Christmas holidays were devoted to reviewing Google Analytics, studying which sections of our current site were most viewed and developing goals, objectives and content for our new site.

Selecting a Content Management System was easy. We went with WordPress because it has great features, is easy to use and is open source (FREE). We defined the scope of our site and created site maps. We questioned the site maps. We finalized the site map and began wire framing.

We designed our site not just responsively, but for mobile first. Now that more people are browsing on phones than on desktops, mobile has become the design driver for both web sites and emails. Every design we attempted had to work well on both.

By January 26th, we had layout options for our homepage – and we’d established our navigational approach. By early-February, we had copy completed for the entire site.

By mid-February, we’d designed every page of our site and discovered some UX flaws along the way. Our navigation system was clunky. So we went back to the drawing board and refined it.

By March 17th, the site was programmed, tested and ready to go. It’s not perfect, but it does what we wanted it to do. It allows you to search the site, sort through our work, share the work, sign up for our e-Newsletter (so we can build our database), comment on our blogs and gives you directions to our office. At the same time, it demonstrates a bit of our agency culture. Simple, clean and to the point.

There are things we still want to improve:
(1) We wanted to show a list of capabilities on our homepage, but didn’t want the lists to scroll forever on mobile so we made each header expandable.
(2) We didn’t want to have drop down menus so we had to add a nav bar down the side on our Work, News and Right Brain sections – not optimum. But it looks clean and it works. And we wanted the site up already.
(3) The video player default doesn’t look great. We’re still looking for other options.
(4) And you can’t comment on our Right Brain blog until you click into the actual post. That’s a weakness of the widget we used.

As I said, it’s not perfect. But it’s up!

There’s a great site you can visit (http://theuserisdrunk.com/) where you pay someone $150 to get drunk and navigate your website. The idea is that your site should be so simple, a drunk person can use it. The screencasts of this process are hilarious. We saved the $150 and did our own drunk tests. We welcome your feedback – drunk or sober – as well.

3 Comments
  • James Jackson
    Posted at 16:40h, 31 March Reply

    “Simple, clean and to the point.” Mission accomplished, great work!

  • John
    Posted at 10:49h, 01 April Reply

    I wouldn’t continually claim that you “designed” your site when in fact it’s just a theme you bought…

    • LeAnn Wilson McGuire
      Posted at 11:12h, 01 April Reply

      Interesting take, John. We actually approached our website just like we do those for our clients. We designed the look we wanted first, then we sought out the most efficient way to create and program it. In this case, we were lucky enough to find a template that was close. So we custom programmed pieces of it instead of the entire thing. We’ve found that most clients don’t want to pay for 100% custom programming when much more cost efficient methods exist. We always put design first. And, like all smart marketers, we utilize every tool available to make it affordable for our clients – and, in this case, ourselves. Thanks for your comment.

Post A Comment