Re-launching a Site — Lessons Learned

About a week ago a very good friend of mine came to me telling me his site was down. He was all upset because this particular site has over 700 articles and is a membership site. We started to discuss his goals and decided upon a game plan. His initial goal was just to get his actual site back up exactly as it was before it went down.

My friend had access to his database, a list of plugins that were running on his site and his theme files. As a result of this, I had his WordPress site up and running in very short order. After seeing his site come back up he began to talk to me about how he wanted to take his site in a slightly different direction. I began talking to him about security issues and other things. We talked about how his site was no mobile friendly at all. We discussed that the look and feel was dated. This part was interesting because my client had different views of what looks good.

The discussion went into my friend’s opinion that nothing could replace his existing theme. He gave me his reasons why. I sent him to Studio Press to have a look at their themes. After returning to me and saying “nothing on that site looks good at all” I made some suggestions and gave him a reason for each suggestion–explaining what benefit I thought he would derive from each theme suggestion I made. He settled on the Education Pro theme.

I went to work fixing up his site to work with the new theme. I then made suggestions about how to improve the site. We changed his menu structure from 2 menus down to 1 menu to make the experience much simpler for his end users. We created a very nice footer area along with a sidebar. We also fixed a glaring hole in his existing site–no mention anywhere that it is a membership site UNTIL you click on content for members only. It was a huge fix because now he will have a chance to promote the fact that his is a membership site.

We tested the site for an entire day and then launched it late in the evening. Have a look at the completed site at http://coachchic.com.

I learned a few lessons during this process:

  1. Let the client talk and explain their likes and dislikes before making suggestions for changes.
  2. Even when the client comes back and makes objections, take the time to give them suggestions that are well thought out.
  3. Have patience with your client. They don’t know nearly as much as you do about building a web site.
  4. Do not be afraid to tell a client no when they are trying to derail a process you are working through.
  5. Guide all clients towards a nice look and feel because that’s what catches the eye of most people.

I had fun rebuilding this site and in the end my friend has a site that is something he can definitely be proud of. It is now mobile responsive, so it works on any mobile device. It is far more modern. It is on a framework (Genesis) that gets updated regularly so it is very secure.

I also learned a lot about getting under the hood of WordPress and making things happen. All in all it was a very important lesson.

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