Under the hood of a customers Website

Posted 13 months ago by Danial Van Holten

We just finished making updates to a clients website. The site was visually appealing, well structured for mobile and desktop design. However our client was unable to get the previous Web Design firm to make updates or reply to messages.

The fun started as we began making changes to the website and getting underneath what the owner and his clients can see.

The major issues we found were

  1. No design templates for common information
  2. Trade Mark terms used
  3. Client information and data capturing forms not working
  4. Consistent linking back to the previous web design company's website.
  5. Lack of Website Statistics

After gaining access to the website via FTP and downloading a backup copy of the all the codes. It became obvious that this site was not written in any Content Management System. This lead to the first major issue.

No Design Templates For Common Information

Content Management Systems like Silverstripe, WordPress, Joomla etc all allow your site to have a standard theme or look and feel through out the site. The advantage of this is when you make a small design or content change to the master template, it is reflected through out the entire site. Now if you build a site outside of a CMS then you have to hand code the entire site. This is not a bad thing, but some extra work upfront can allow the changes to be replicated quickly through out.

However what we found on the clients site was each page hand coded, and all of the common elements like, menus, header and footer, programmed individually. This meant that changing one link in the footer, we had to update approximately 35 individual pages. Now we could have easily updated each on of these individually, and then the next time the client had a small change, charge them again to manually update all 35 pages.

However there is a better way. Seeing how we at Convene IT USA were already going to be updating all the files, we created 3 separate files to store these common pieces of I information in. We then linked them to each of the files in the site. So now when we remove a link from the footer it, is replicated across the whole site instantly. It also saves us about 30 minutes work, and we know that if it works on one page, it will work on them all.

Trade Mark Symbol Used

The next thing we noticed was that the previous company had placed Trade Marks (™) next to the company name. Now we here at Convene IT USA know we are not attorneys, but we know that you cant just throw TM next to words, or names, and assume that is it. When we queried the client was not sure whether or not they were trade marked, so we removed these references just to make sure the client didn't get in any future trouble.

If you are looking for and Trade Mark information on company name or logo, make sure to contact us, as we have a great law firm partner we work with on these issues. Trade Marks are a complicated issue and you need to make sure you are getting the correct information.

Client Information and Data Capturing Forms Not Working

The site had several contact us forms located in different areas. Our client wanted one field changed and another added. All this was pretty straight forward. However when we started testing the forms we noticed that one of them didn't pass all the information through, and two that were located in one page conflicted with each other, and therefore actually did not send information through to the client, even though you pressed submit. This obviously is a pretty big issues as it means people may have been requesting service, or information and never hearing back from the client.

Of course we fixed these and made sure they ALL worked.

Consistent Linking Back to the Previous Web Design Company's Website

We see this all the time, and can't quite work out how customers allow it. You pay for a service like getting a website built, and then the web design company make sure that nice and visible on the site is that they did the work. It is great they are proud of their work, but what you are actually doing is helping promote them. Even if you aren't happy with their work, you are still advertising for them, in the world of SEO and Link Building, these links at the bottom of pages is helping push them up the rankings in Google.

This is definitely something we don't do at Convene IT USA / Fulshear Web Design. A lot of our business is via referral, we know that if we do a good job, and that you happy with our work, you will tell your friends, colleagues, and business partners.

Lack of Website Statistics

The last thing we noticed is there was not quick or basic way of traffic monitoring. Although the client doesn't rely solely on his website to generate of build his business, not have any idea of how many people look at the site, where they are from, or even type of device they are using. This information is always valuable, and it is better to have some and not need it than, not have it.

For this we installed a simple free stat counter from StatCounter.com, although not as fancy as Google Analytic's and the other Google Products, our customers find it quick and easy to use, and retrieve the information that they require.

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