BF Design Studio

Web Design Company Fail #1

The first in a series for inexperienced Web design companies and clients
There are times when a prospective client is looking for more than just a quote for building a website. When the conversation starts with “I need to know if you can help me…” its a sure bet that there is a web designer out there somewhere who just got fired, and another sure bet, that the reason is one of five common Web design company Fails!

Today we’re starting a series of short posts about the mistakes that web designers (and web design companies) can make with a client’s web site. The uncomfortable truth is that most of these mistakes are excruciatingly simple and more often occur through pure oversight than ignorance. This in itself should make it easy to avoid them happening to you.

Web Design Company Fail #1 – Deleting the old site when asked to build a new oneStop! Think before you delete those client files!

When a client asks you to build them a better web site, you get a little rush. Whether you’ve hooked up hundreds of new clients in the past, or are just getting started on your web design business, its always nice to be chosen for the job. Web designers should enjoy that feeling, but never let it convince them that the new site they build is the center of the universe!

The fact is, any existing site will have some pages that are already indexed in search engines. Whether there are hundreds or just a few, you should never delete them from their current location without doing three critical things:

1) create a complete back-up of the existing site;
2) analyze and categorize the content of each page and;
3) create a 301 (permanent) redirect to a relevant page on the new site for each.

Why keep a back-up of files that will not be seen on the new site?

This should be fairly obvious. The dictionary definition of the word delete is “Remove or obliterate”. To put it plainly, once its gone, its gone! Well of course you knew that, but why should it matter? Obviously a back-up will allow you to recover any previous text and other page elements at any time in the future. While the need for this may seem unlikely, remember that clients can (and do) change their mind about the content they want on their site. After all, they are the site owner and have the right to do so. If you build websites, you don’t ever want to be in the position of explaining to your client that you deleted the content they really want to put back into the site. If you are a site owner working toward launching a brand new site, you should check with your designer that all of the old content can be retrieved if you need it.

Why do I need to analyze and categorize the content of pages that will not be seen in future?

You should always assume that every existing page has been linked to. Every external link to a website is of course, a potential source of visitors or “traffic”. Maintaining these traffic sources is critical when launching the new web site.

There are three obvious sources of external links:
1) Search Engines and Directories. If a page has been “indexed” by a search engine or added to a directory, a link has been created.
2) Other websites. Other webmasters may have created links from their site to any page.
3) Bookmarks or Favorites. Any previous website visitor may have created a link to a page by saving the location in a web browser.

The visitors who follow existing links to a site are expecting to find content that is related to the link that they clicked. If the page that they land on doesn’t seem relevant, they are unlikely to continue browsing the site. So, pages that will no longer exist in the new site must be permanently redirected to the new page which contains the most relevant information.

If you are designing the new website, it is your job to know what was contained on the pages you will remove, and to know which new pages match them best for content.

If there are a lot of pages to be removed from a site, clients should expect their quote to include the cost of analyzing and redirecting each one.

Why not just redirect everything to the home page?

Don't be the second web design company to disappoint the client!

Don't prove to your new client that their web design Messiah has feet of clay!

Unfortunately, this is easy, quick and occurs way too often! Web designers who use the “catch-all” approach will likely have to deal with a disappointed client. A drop in the number of contacts or conversions is likely if visitors don’t find relevant content when they arrive on the site. The last thing a web designer wants is to disappoint an enthusiastic new client. The last thing a client wants is to realize that potential customers have slipped through their fingers! As with most things in life, the quickest and easiest method is not the best.

If you pay careful attention to all of these potential problems you can achieve a painless and successful transition from the old site to the new. If you are the project manager, keep a simple checklist to ensure that no-one in your company drops the ball.  Clients should ask a few questions of the person responsible for the project. Don’t leave it ’til launch day. It is always a hundred times easier to prevent a problem than to clean up the mess afterwards!

Put simply, whether you are a website designer or a client, don’t be caught by Web Design Company Fail #1!

 

10 Comments

  1. very informative information.aside from Deleting the old site when asked to build a new one, what are some main issues on this. i am looking forward in it.

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Permalink
  2. I loved this post… especially about the redirects. This is such a simple, basic thing to do, but so often overlooked, as often web designers are not versed in SEO. I mentioned this to a freelance friend when they asked my opinion on a site they had just created, and just got a blank look!

    Monday, September 12, 2011 at 1:13 pm | Permalink
  3. Orlando SEO wrote:

    Thanks for the great blog post! This blog is truly interactive. I appreciate all the work you’ve been doing. Good stuff. This is exactly what i was looking for. Keep up the good work.

    Tuesday, October 4, 2011 at 6:51 am | Permalink
  4. As a Newbie, I am continuously exploring online for articles that can aid me. Thank you

    Friday, October 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm | Permalink
  5. Excellent report and easy to understand explanation. How do I go about getting permission to post part of the article in my upcoming newsletter? Giving proper credit to you the article author and hyperlink to the site would not be a problem.

    Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Permalink
  6. this is really great!! thank you for sharing.

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Permalink
  7. Derek wrote:

    Hi
    As a web designer my self i think your stuff is great.
    I run a lead generation site for designers and offer a service for customers looking to make a new website.
    For the customer they get to choose from 4 designers so they are in control with regards to the price and quality and for designers they get fully verified leads at affordable prices.
    Its a way for designers to get new leads for work.

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011 at 11:15 pm | Permalink
  8. Strongly suggest adding a “google+” button for the blog!

    Friday, December 16, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Permalink
  9. Ha! I had the same problem as in described in article. I was maybe to lazy to keep all files on backup cd or hdd and just forgot where they are. I had no reference etc. and preview web designer did some SEO work so google was full of broken links and wrong sitelinks under search result in google. It cost me some time tomfix all and page jump till 6th position in google for given keyword. Since that time I am always protecting all files.

    Saturday, January 7, 2012 at 4:52 am | Permalink
  10. Tara Earls wrote:

    Deleting the first site. I think, before you do it, make sure the followers are all updated about the elimination. That can make them stick with the second site.

    Sunday, January 22, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

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