Websites are like cars – you can’t drive them forever. You have to change the oil, you have to fill up the gas, you’ve got to rotate the tires. These are things that you’re going to do with your website, and the frequency with which you do them will improve the shelf life of your website.

Hosted By
Monica Maye Pitts
Monica Maye Pitts Chief Creative Officer
Stacy Brockmeier
Stacy Brockmeier Account Executive

Websites are like cars - you can't drive them forever. You have to change the oil, you have to fill up the gas, you've got to rotate the tires. These are things that you're going to do with your website, and the frequency with which you do them will improve the shelf life of your website.

Transcription

Hello again this is Monica Pitts - Welcome to Marketing with Purpose. With me today to finish up our two part podcast about how long websites last and how to make them last longer is Mrs. Stacy Brockmeier.

0:17  

Hey guys.

0:19  

So Stacy is our resident expert consultant slash sales lady. Wearer of all the hats. And she regularly reviews websites and helps people decide what they can do to make them last longer. 

We discussed in the last episode, how long a website will probably be good for, and we decided at this point, like three to six years, three to six years. Yep, yep. And we also went on a total rants about cell phones and stuff that was very fun for us and hopefully...

0:53  

User expectations and stuff.

0:55  

It really turned into user expectations. So if you are wondering if your website needs to be updated, there are lots of different ways that you can get this information. The first part - Well, and all of it is really understanding user expectations really, ah, see all the way back around. 

So how do I define user expectations when it comes to being online? I feel like there's two ways one is using your gut and doing a little bit of like elbow grease research. And then the next would be going concrete and running a bunch of tests. So let's start with using your gut.

1:38  

Yeah, so there are different styles for different industries, you know, whether they're advanced industries or service based industries, or really any industry has a little bit of a different style, and then their users expect different functionality out of that site.

1:55  

Yeah. One of the things that I try to do annually is an...so most years, I get it done. I go out and I look for great websites. So I already have a list of great websites that I've reviewed before. And then I search for services in different areas of the United States. And I make a list of all the websites that I think are cool. And then I go through them and I write them and I say, Okay, this website gets a 5on usability and this website gets a 2 on X, Y, and Z right? Because I have all the criteria listed out for what makes that type of website great in industry.

2:37  

What's great, what could be improved upon just a little bit.

2:40  

Yeah, and then as I'm looking at all these websites, I start seeing lots of trends come through. For example, in the construction industry, there's lots of drone footage.

2:50  

Lots of videos in the headers.

2:52  

Love drone footage, so cool.

2:54  

Stacey's been asking for a drone for years. 

Can I please get a drone? It's 2020. I think we should have a drone. I mean, I'm pretty sure we should have drone.

Okay, well, you'd let me know how much they cost and then we'll pick the right drone.

3:06  

Okay, okay.

3:07  

Does that mean that you had to get your pilot's license?

3:11  

Don't tell people about that. I think you really have to, you're supposed to, like fly things in the air without your license. But we're going to go into if we don't tell people about it. I mean, this isn't a podcast or anything that's going to be broadcast on the internet.

3:28  

Okay, so we are first going to read all the rules about flying a drone. And then if we feel like we can meet those expectations, and Stacy finds a drone that does everything that she wants it to do and is set a price that I'm willing to buy it. We can have a drone,

3:43  

Okay, and I'm not going to go to jail for it.

3:45  

No, she's not because you're going to read all the rules. 

Yeah, I'll follow the rules.

Don't laugh You have to follow the rules.

3:53  

I'm not very good at following the rules.

3:56  

Anyways, construction websites have drone footage and it's super cool. It's in the header. It's like, right when you come to the website, especially when there's like, Time Lapse, and they're like, yeah, see a whole building go up or whole road be paved in like 20 seconds. It's really cool.

4:16  

But I wouldn't know that if I hadn't looked at a lot of construction websites and recognize those trends. And like another example of this is, in our creative meetings, we have a list of websites that we review with clients and we try to find what they are looking for creatively out of their website and how they want it to look and feel. So you can do the same thing for yourself. You can make that list of websites, you can start drawing some conclusions about what is happening in your industry out online, because you need to know to know if you are still meeting the status quo or falling behind. Like where are you in that group? And that is that's like your gut, right? That gut check.

4:59  

I even think like working with an industry expert web designer. So if you are working with somebody who you know specializes in construction or specializes in nonprofits or specializes in property management, those people are going to be able to help you meet those trends too.

5:19  

Yes. And I also feel like hmm, during your gut check, you're going to do something that if you are a big picture person you are going to hate but you're going to do it anyway. Because you have to do it and because I said you need to do it. And that is you're going to read the content in your website, you're actually going to read it. 

Do you still talk about your company and your services that way? 

Yes, I did this. What like like 10 years ago when we totally re worked our like brand tonality. I read through the website and I was like, eww.

5:56  

It made my stomach hurt a little.

5:58  

When we read it Stacy was like you're not actually gonna do this.

You're not actually going to tell people, their websites are crap.

She's like, you can't use the word crap on a website.

6:08  

But we did. Yes. And people really like it. 

6:11  

They love it.

6:12  

And I actually give a talk. It's like a three minute like, what, how to know if your website needs to be rebuilt talk. And it's, I think I say crap, like at least 17 times in three minutes.

6:25  

It's kind of fun.

6:26  

She said, I remember this very day. We're like standing in the design office. And I said, this is what we're going to do. And Stacy looked at me and she goes, that makes my stomach hurt. And I said, Good, then we're doing it. Right.

6:38  

Absolutely. And then got to make your stomach hurt just a little bit to know that you're growing.

6:42  

Yes. And you also have to make sure that your content on your website makes you sound as awesome as you really are. Mm hmm. Okay, so those are your gut checks, right? You're going to go out you're going to do some industry benchmarking. You're going to read the content on your website, you're going to look at your website, with new eyes. And I really feel like if you were heavily involved in designing this website or heavily involved in writing the content when you come back to it later, it feels different.

7:10  

Yeah, it really does. And the other thing I think I need to say is try to set like being emotionally attached to it aside because, you know, I mean, if you built this website 15 years ago, it probably costs you a bajillion dollars, like at least $20,000 if even just for like a very simple website. And so that's a really hard for some people to be to remove that attachment.

7:38  

Yes. But we discussed in our last website, how our website in our last podcast, that websites are like cars and you can't drive them forever. You have to change the oil, you have to fill up the gas, you've got to rotate the tires. These are things that you're going to do with your website, and the frequency with which you do them will Improve the shelf life of your website. It'll make it last longer. Okay, so we just talked about gut. Now let's move into these concrete things like concrete tests that you can run on your website to see how it's shaping up. 

That way you can have some like real evidence and numbers. So there's this one really cool one that I like to use a lot called Website Grader. So the URL on its website.grader.com. And it is a really good like big picture overview of your website. It really assesses, I think, three or four levels of things. So performance, which is speed and stuff with that, and then it assesses, like whether you have an SSL whether your site is mobile friendly, and so it then it gives you an overall score out of 100.

It's pretty easy to understand it's not a super technical report.

9:01  

It's easy to understand. And then the other great thing about it is it has links on if you don't understand what render blocking is, for example, you can read an article about render blocking and how that should be done. And so it has some good links there for some easy to digest information.

9:17  

And it has some basic tips. But it's not going to go nearly as in depth as some of these other tools that you can use on Google. Google has so many tools. And it's interesting because it feels like they're testing the same thing, but they test it in different ways. And you can feel like, sometimes I feel very decimated by the Google tests. 

They can be slightly overwhelming, but they're good.

Yes. And so the Website Grader one is really good to start with. And then if you have a more technical background, you can move into some of the Google tests that will tell you more about how to fix things and really dig into the technical aspects of your website. 

The first one that I go to is Test My Site. And I'm not going to give you the URL because all the Google URLs are kind of random. So I would just google test my site. And if that doesn't work, Test My Site, Google. Yes, yes, yes. And that one gives you insights about how your site performs on mobile devices and tablets, which you know, user experience is paramount. So that is super important. Google Mobile First indexing, very important.

10:35  

The second one is PageSpeed Insights. And so it's a really a lot more technical look at analyzing how your content loads, you can look at it for mobile and for desktop, but it really will give you you know, the first...It'll tell you how long it takes to load the first pieces of content on your website. It gives you a really good list of things that you need to assess and analyze and change and fix if if you're not doing so well. So it's just a super detailed report.

11:16  

And, you know, break it down, page by page, like you can run it for each page on your website. One that is more overarching, is the mobile friendly test. And it's really just saying, Yeah, you know what, this is mobile friendly, and it loads this quick. And so it's good. And if you're not a super technical user, I would use the mobile friendly test over the Page Speed insights test, because he didn't sites can get really overwhelming.

11:45  

And the mobile friendly tests will give you a few things to fix that aren't maybe fitting on the page quite right. Or if you have an iframe that isn't set to go 100%. Maybe it's set to a certain number of pixels. It'll tell you what you can fix there. But it's a much easier like Monica said to digest report.

12:06  

Okay, so I think my favorite is to favorite Google spots is Google Analytics. And you could certainly go there and see how your website is behaving. If things are declining and you're not getting as much traffic, then that should be a good indicator to you that things aren't probably right. But search console is pretty amazing. And so back in the day, Search Console only let you see three months worth of data. And that was that because I really wanted to see like long trend...

Three months is not a long time. 

No, not I mean, it. It would be a long time, I think to an in house marketer who's like, aggressively marketing a product like that is a long time if you're spending thousands of dollars a week to market something, but for a lot of our clients. That's not their style of marketing. They have sales people, and they go to conventions and they network with people. And so like three months of time is not. 

13:10  

Now it's like 16 months, right? 

13:13  

I know, I can see at least 12.

13:17  

Yeah, I think I think there's a few months past a full year. It's pretty great.

13:21  

So then I can look and see what's happening with trends. I like to look and see how many terms is my site being indexed for? Do I have any errors on my pages, because it'll let me know if there's errors. It'll look at your site maps, which are important. And let you know if they're still successfully loading your content out to Google. So you just, I mean, it's great, and it'll alert you of the issues.

13:49  

Yeah, I think that's one of my favorite things is that it'll tell you what the issue is and order to find it, where it's at. It's not just like, you have 17 issues or 17 errors, but it like tells you whether it's like high priority or not. And then also tells you where it's at. So it's super great.

14:08  

Fun, short story. Using those two, like Google Analytics and Google Search Console together can help you kind of like, diagnose maybe some weirdness that you're seeing. 

A few years ago, we were seeing that we were getting all this traffic to a really short blog post, about how to use sidewalk chalk, as you know how to revive it from being a lost marketing tool. And we were like, oh, my goodness, we are so amazing. And the smartest people ever, because look at how many people are coming to our website for this blog post. We should do more blog posts like this. This is awesome. And we were really congratulating ourselves and then we went into Google Search Console to look and see what queries were pulling up this particular article and sidewalk chalk. Sidewalk chalk was pulling up the article.

15:00  

You don't just want to show for sidewalk chalk. Usually people who are buying sidewalk chalk are not the same people who are buying websites.

15:09  

No. And it was tough because people weren't behaving very well on that page. It was really like they were there for just a few seconds. And then they left because it wasn't what they wanted. And eventually, we made the decision to just take the article down. So what we first celebrated, we realized was actually skewing all of our data. And it wasn't, it wasn't what we wanted. And then we did not do more posts about you know, sidewalk chalk and sandwich boards.

15:36  

We did not, it might be a last form of marketing, but we're not writing about it anymore. No.

15:45  

Now we write about things like how to make your website last longer. 

So running all these tests can be like and doing the homework of the gut check can be very, I mean, it can be time consuming, and it can be and it can hurt your heart a little bit because it's just one more challenge that you need to solve as a business owner that you maybe don't want to solve. 

But on the bright side of things, when you do keep your website updated, and when you do finally, like, go forth and make the hard decision to redesign your site, it can pay off in spades. It's like, for example, we are children of cobblers so we don't get new shoes all that often. And so we waited a really long time before redesigning our new website. We had all the sassy talk on it you know, telling people you know if your website Do you think your website stinks, so does everybody else. But the look of our website while our clients complimented it all the time, was not very progressive. It was definitely dating itself. And you remember the scrolls like the scrolling, flowery kind of thing we had down the side of it. It was like in a box.

During my feminine phase of design. Says the girl who's in a plaid shirt and muck boots. Yeah. Back in the day when Monica used to dress like a girl.

17:13  

We even were dress pants back then.

17:16  

We dressed. We got dressed up to go to work.

We have taken a vow to never wear dress pants again. It's either colored jeans or actual dresses. Yeah, there is no dress pants, not in our office. I mean, you can wear them if you come here, but yeah, we're just not going to be in them.

Not me or Stacy. We don't.

17:36  

No. We do love colored jeans.

17:38  

Because all of our clients wear hoodies. Why do I like I'm like, I'm sitting here in a suit and my clients in a hoodie. Do you see a problem here?

17:45  

Yeah, it was intimidating. Yeah, it's intimidating for our clients. They like us in you know, jeans and boots and things.

17:54  

Own who you are. Yeah. Okay. So we became binary. We got our pride on and we were like, dang it, we can't have this old outdated website anymore, we're going to be who we really are, we're going to redesign this thing. And within three months, our traffic doubled. Doubled. So we went from having like 11,000 visitors a month to having 22,000 visitors a month. And as we continue to improve our website, I mean, we get like 30,000 visitors a month now. And it was while it was very time consuming, and it was painful, because I had to read every single page and rewrite every single page and I hated it. And we had to recategorize every blog post. Oh, my goodness.

18:34  

Yeah, because we had cookies in the basement of your house. Yeah.

18:40  

Lots of chocolate, lots of chocolate. It was painful.

18:44  

But we just like randomly created all these categories. That didn't make any sense. And we were just, it was like a kindergarten filing cabinet. Yeah, it was a mess.

18:53  

It's hard. So we have been there. We fully recognize that it can be hard. 

19:00  

Yes, but when we decided to do the things that Google wanted us to do, and we had already had a relationship established with Google, by having this website for a long time, and owning our domain name for a really long time, it took those same blog posts that had been bringing in 500 visitors a month and served them to 500 more people, like got 500 more people a month to our website. So they went from 500 visitors to 1000. It was a huge game changer. It was amazing. 

I was watching the data. And I'm like, I don't even know how this is happening. This is nuts. Right? And then we got leads from all over the country. And it was and I don't think that those people were considering us before because we looked like a bunch of children. Right. And, you know, with with crappy websites, yeah. Yeah. 

Okay, so if you meet Google standards, Google will reward you. Let's talk about how you can budget to maintain your site as quality site throughout the whole lifecycle, which we're saying is, you know, three to six years,

20:03  

Which is still a big gap.

20:05  

Yeah, it is. It's still a big gap. Stacy, how do we budget for this? What do you tell people when they ask you that question? 

So I think, you know, if you really are targeting that six year mark, you really need to set some budget aside every year to make those improvements because Google changes every year. And if you want to stay relevant, really online, then you kind of have to make those changes along. And so I always tell people, you know, year one, you're going to do a little bit, year two you're going to do a little bit more. year three is probably going to be a little bit bigger year for you. Because, you know, things have changed in the mobile space. They've changed in the user interface space. And probably even as a business, you've changed enough in three years that we need to do some bigger updates, not a whole redesign unless you I like to tell people like if you are in a really user heavy industry, so like if you're a winery or something where people are trying to get a feel for you by coming to your website, or maybe they're even buying things on your website, you may have to do it a little more often. But you know, if you're a construction company, you can probably stretch it out to that six year mark by doing bigger updates in year three, and then again, smaller in year four, smaller in year five, redesign in year six.

Can you give me an example of some of the really common updates that might happen in like year one and two.

21:42  

So it may be that there was a small change with Google, it might be that you need to change out your slideshow for video, it might be that you need to rewrite one of your services pages or add a service that maybe you didn't have last year. So those are all pretty minor, minor things going on there. 

22:00  

Yeah, like right now we're pushing HTML Sitemaps. And having privacy policies and cookie notices, and those are like they just, these are trends that come about. And those are like year one and year two trends are not huge. They're not huge changes, but they need to be made - image caching, etc. 

And yeah, so one of the things is like render blocking and caching are really big right now, because those things that we didn't really do a couple years ago. I mean, we did them but just not to the extent that Google really wants them today.

And those make your website load faster, which makes everybody happier - Google and your users.

What are some examples of things that we might be doing in year three.

22:46  

So this is a really good opportunity to make even just a few small design changes, but likely you're going to be rebuilding your template to address any new mobile functionality, any new code functionality, you know, there may have been a new version of HTML that came out since then. Or, like what we're in right now. WordPress came out with Gutenberg. Oh, yeah. And so rebuilding your template to accept those things and to really thrive on some of those new pieces of technology.

23:21  

Which can help, not just the end user expectations, your target market and the viewers of your website, but they can help the people that are administering your website on a regular basis, more efficiently. Absolutely. And that's one thing that I do find we do often in that three year mark is finding like, I mean, you've had this website for three years. Pretend like it's a car. What if you don't have Bluetooth? You're like, I'd really like to have Bluetooth in my car, then you know, maybe I really want to have a seat heater. Those are things that while it's maybe not super convenient to do it after market, you can do it after market and it's the same thing with your website. Maybe you find that you're adding staff members like rapidly and you had a staff page, it's not easy to add to those are things that I feel like we do a lot with on year three, just kind of extending things out a little bit.

24:10  

Well, and if you want to add a piece of functionality, maybe now, you haven't ever been able to accept credit cards online for one process or another, but if you're not staying up with the updates and the software on your website, that's, you know, kind of a big deal. It's sort of like adding a program to your computer when you're using Windows Vista.

24:34  

Oh, so what you're saying is that, if you don't keep the website up to date continually, then when you want to add these additional features, they won't be compatible with your website. Yeah, that's always a big fear.

You're not just trying to keep up with the Joneses. You're trying to keep up with technology and make yourself look better and make sure that you're marketing your company on your website, like what your company really is.

Yeah. And meeting those user expectations.

25:13  

Google expectations too.

25:15  

Oh, yes. Okay.

25:19  

That's how you extend the life of your website, make sure that you are updating it. Make sure that you have analyzed it and assessed it. And are keeping up with your industry.

25:35  

That sounds Yes. Okay. And we're talking to you like, you're going to do this yourself.

25:40  

Oh, no, you don't have to do this yourself. 

25:42  

And you should expect to be able to go to your developer and have them help you with this. Now, one of the things that I want you to do though, is they want you to push them a little bit, because sometimes they get comfortable and they built this website and they feel proud of it still, and they were proud of it when they did it. And so they may be less ready to make these updates than you are. And if that's the case, then push and make sure that you get what you need out of them. Because they're here at you know, you pay them as a consultant in this area of your business, and they should be ready to consult with you and make the changes that you need to have made so that your business is thriving and continue to grow. Just like our website, when we redesigned it, it was a huge boost for our business and continually updating these websites is a huge boost for yours. And it means that you don't have to invest every three years and a new website you can invest every six years in a new website and that is much better on your bottom line, quite frankly.

26:49  

Right and if you're not taking a deep dive every year into looking at this stuff or your web company's not doing it for you then it's not a good relationship. You know, make sure that you're taking a deep dive and really analyzing this stuff every single year.

27:07  

You can call Stacy. I'll talk to you. Yeah, she will. She'll sell you a whole website.

27:12  

Yep. And we'll review it every year, but only if you need one. Yeah, I won't sell you a new and if you don't need it. Now, that's not what she does.

27:21  

If you want to revisit all these lovely things that we talked about today, we always have a blog post about every podcast we do. Head on over to mayecreate.com/blog, and you can just feel totally empowered to know exactly how you're going to keep your website up to date, and save yourself the money.

Yep, you can also see the transcription of this podcast at podcast.mayecreate.com

Thank you so much for all of your ears and energy today. I know you have other things to do. So go forth and do them and while you're doing them, take a deep dive at your website. Go forth and market with purpose.

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