Note from Sarah: This article was originally sent via my newsletter. Newsletter subscribers receive essay style pieces like this before anyone else. Click here to subscribe!
I told myself I wouldn’t go into 2020 with the 2017-19 iteration of our website. It had so much outdated, unnecessary and inessential information when, when it comes down to it, my goal for the site is to inspire people to get in touch so I can talk to them and see if we can help them.
That’s it, that’s the whole goal.
You can see the somewhat incomplete (needs proofreading, needs updated case studies, needs a couple of missing pages added and some speed optimization done). This has been a process to say the least. While I could go on and on about it, here are a few notes I thought would be useful to share with folks who are considering redesigning their own websites at some point in the future (so, like everyone, basically).
1. I removed about 50 pages from my site. Maybe more. A bunch of these were index sections due to the weird way you have to handle sections in Squarespace 7.0, but there were a LOT of unused and outdated whole indexes. SO MANY PAGES. Like, no one visited them. We get very wrapped up in making sure people know #allthethings, but in reality, those things are better discussed on the phone or in an email. They don’t need to be taking up space on a website. I tell clients this all the time, and I am right on this.
2. I removed blog posts too. This is likely an ongoing project but I had a lot of content with outdated information from 2015 and even earlier. Ouch! Unfortunately, because of their age, they’re still ranked highly and provided people with lousy info. (Thanks, Google!)
3. I rewrote almost everything. This was because 1) the tone was too passive/wishy washy and 2) because I’m still dealing with the plagiarism issue from early in 2019 (at one point my organic traffic was down 62% because of this). It became very clear that it was easier to rewrite my content than to keep fighting the duplicates.
4. I did a lot of hard thinking about my brand, which I don’t think I’ve ever done before. I know, I mean, I do have a great logo that I realized I still really love, but I never got into the nitty gritty with the brand as a concept. Eventually I want to have someone create some nice brand assets to go along with my brand (backgrounds etc) so I feel really confident in implementing outside of the website. I actually really like my brand, but I don’t have a lot to work with. My original brand designer retired after getting rich on cryptocurrency, so I’ll need to find someone new, ha!
5. I’m very excited about what the infrastructure of my new site can do potentially. I have a LearnDash license, so I can move content into that (my client libraries etc) and I can easily sell infoproducts from my site if I want without having to hack things together. I could have a membership if I wanted (doubtful), etc. I have SO MUCH MORE freedom to try things now. I do a ton of experimentation with my own business and then pass what I’ve learned onto clients to implement in their businesses and now I really feel like I’m set up to test and study even more things! Is there something you’re interested in learning but want to at a self-paced rate instead of a 1:1 intensive? Give me a shout and we may consider developing it or creating content or something!
6. I’ve really downplayed social on this website. I really am not active and so why have it be so prominent? I want people to subscribe to the newsletter or read the blog—preferably both! With all that said, I started playing with IGTV on a whim, and my first “series” is about this big ol’ website update, just answering people’s questions about it. I may make #AskSarahMoon a series at some point, just for fun.
7. I’ve really emphasized the newsletter. Ultimately this has been my best communications tool and the most effective way I know to connect with people. So I’m going to ride or die with this newsletter! (Speaking of which—if you’re thinking about a newsletter, my preferred newsletter tool, is doing a landing page challenge again this year. This is actually what kicked me into gear with the newsletter last year and I highly recommend just trying! I was wildly unsuccessful by most people’s metrics, but it was a good kickstart for me in terms of “mindset,” as they say.)
8. I have a lot more work to do. I still have issues with my case studies not being complete, and my data indicates that they’re not often visited on my site. But, they are something I pull up in conversation with clients, so they’re a useful tool in that regard. Case studies/portfolios are, as I tell clients all the time, the hardest content to wrangle and really feel “right” about. It’s an ongoing process and something I think we all need to revisit more often.