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  1. #1
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Best practices for a site makeover?
    What do you think in general are the best methods for a site makeover?
    ~Rhia7 -- Remember the 7
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  2. #2
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    Simplicity, clarity, utility.

    Many (most) of my older sites are essentially hand-coded (sometimes generated by scripts but using a hand-coded HTML template). On update, they need to have the HTML tags fixed (e.g., close all the paragraph tags, change the <br> tags to <br /> etc.) and most should add CSS (style sheets). I'm also trying to consider the best page-layout options (for example, I use dynamic-width columns and dynamic page width -- which means I should also use CSS to set minimum- and maximum-page-widths that are appropriate for my page).

    Think about what your visitor wants when they come to your site. Maybe this depends on how they got there (search query, link from a particular site). If they're arriving at your site with a specific purpose, make sure they can quickly and easily find what they came for. Ask for feedback from people who aren't already familiar with your site; give them specific goals or reasons to consider when they do so.

    Look around for other "best practices," including:
    • Every single page should have "About Us," "Contact Us," and "Privacy/Security" links (even if they go to the same page).
    • All images should have "useful" ALT tags (both for visually impaired users and for search engines).
    • Steer clear of bad practices (forced audio, clashing colors, blinking/flashing, clutter).

  3. #3
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestions, Mark
    I always enjoy your posts. You give excellent advice

    I will especially try to keep in mind:
    Quote Originally Posted by markwelch
    Simplicity, clarity, utility.
    ~Rhia7 -- Remember the 7
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  4. #4
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    Can I add to this "Test, don't guess" (I made that up myself ). Put loads of options up, test everything, and go with what works. I promise that if you test enough things, you will be amazed at some of the results

  5. #5
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    cre8iveq, what methods/criteria do you use in your testing?

    Do you use viewer feedback?
    Sales results? Etc...?

    How do you test?
    ~Rhia7 -- Remember the 7
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  6. #6
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    I like Google Website Optimizer. I haven't really done anything with view feedback... but I don't have a blog, I have a product and a sales page... so at the end of the day, there is really only 1 stat that matters for me - sales. (I hope that didn't come out wrong... I am not a greedy money grabber... I just think if I got a bunch of feedback saying I like X layout better, but I sold more with Y, what that says to me is that the people THAT MATTER... the ones that are spending money... like Y better, so that is what I would go for)

    I am always testing. If I can't think of anything to test (I don't really have this problem, but if i did)... put in an obscure headline or picture. The amount of times I have been stunned at the results of tests is amazing. I don't even try to guess what will work best any more (I am not good at it anyway)

  7. #7
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    So, cre8iveq, you're saying that you test with analytics and compare the results of the analytics with your actual sales?

    That's a good test
    ~Rhia7 -- Remember the 7
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  8. #8
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    Not analytics, GWO. I set up the split test, and GWO let's you put in a "goal" which i use as the thank you page. GWO will then tell you for each test, what percentage of the each one made it to the thank you page (and therefore must have bought). GWO even tells you when you have had enough data to make it a fair test.

  9. #9
    ABW Ambassador superCool's Avatar
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    superCool suggests that you review and rethink the navigation, categorization and cross-linking strategy. if you believe in nofollow you could also try to craft the juice flow.

    it's always a good time to review your title tags and clean them up to refocus your pages.

    don't forget the meta descriptions - do they invite clicks?

    you might also want to incorporate some variable content into each page if you can (php?).

    good luck Rhia7

  10. #10
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Thanks, Supercool
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  11. #11
    ABW Ambassador Snib's Avatar
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    I'd start by installing Apache/PHP/mySQL on your computer so you can run the new site on your computer as you develop it. May I suggest XAMPP if you're on Windows and MAMP if you're on Mac. Once you've got your site running on a local mysite.dev fake domain then you can get to work. I'd start with a professional template or design with some clean CSS and replace your existing design. Try to optimize any inefficiencies such as duplicate navigations or headers. If you want to change your URL format be sure to replace your old URLs with proper 301's so the search engines aren't confused.

    You might also want to consider your user experience and see if you can make your site simpler and easier to use. Lots of examples out there, but I'd just focus on the sites that are working like Twitter, Facebook or the various WordPress blogs out there.

    Finally when it comes time to switch to the new site you can either upload all the new files individually or zip them up, upload and unzip through ssh. SSH is better because you can zip up the old site through your shell and replace it completely with the new site leaving no remnants or excess files.

    - Scott
    Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.

  12. #12
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Great ideas, Scott
    ~Rhia7 -- Remember the 7
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