Why a new website?

Written By Stewart Ritchie
Posted On September 12, 2014

If you’ve read the previous post on this series you’ll know that we are re-designing our website (if not you should catch up). There were many things wrong with the old poweredbycoffee site all of which combined into it being a total flop.

Questionable Looks

When it originally launched in 2012, it got some nice remarks  and a little bit of attention on some blogs [top 20 link] but it has not aged well. With a weird colour scheme, about 6 different typefaces, flat colours, icons fonts, masonry grids and sectional long form home page it was a victim of its time.

Bad Brand

The old poweredbycoffee logo wasn’t so bad on its own. It was (again, at the time) well received but it hasn’t aged well either. It was inspired by a variety of coffee logo brands, has 3 different typefaces, doesn’t work in small sizes and is very, very busy. We’ve had some help from our friends at Boxdog Inc to refresh, simplify and evolve the logo and brand into a new direction. It’s still got script type, hexagons and the Adelle typeface. But it’s all been brought right up to date and we love it. It reflects our growth and direction.

Structure

The site had a weird structure – a hybrid one pager with a series of pages underneath in the structure that duplicated the layout and content of the sections on the homepage, without adding to / expanding on what we were saying.

Navigation

The navigation broke the site down into four primary sections, but the original plan was for six. We had a ‘homepage’, ‘contact us’, ‘portfolio’ and ‘blog’ sections to the site. We had originally intended to build a tree of content under each of these sections and add in a ‘Services’ and ‘About’ section, but time always got the better of us and we never published those sections. We surfaced all four of our primary sections on the home page but never built that tree of content underneath. We navigated on the homepage by scrolling to the relevant section, but on sub-pages we would use traditional links – this was confusing for everyone and wasn’t consistent throughout the site.

Content

We never even finished writing the primary content, never mind getting around to blogging. We did a few blog posts, but they were crappy news updates that only provided value to my mum. What a joke.

No building of trust.

We never gave away anything, we never built a community (or a “list”), we never gave anyone a reason to trust us or a real reason to stick around. Lesson learned.

Responsive.

Poweredbycoffee had one of the first responsive sites and was one of the first to use off-canvas navigation. The site was developed using Foundation 3 by Zurb to power the responsive grid. We did the responsive site well, for the time. We’ve come a long way with our own responsive grid framework that beats the pants of Foundation and bootstrap (at least I think so). About 10% of our traffic comes from mobile and we’d like to see it grow up to at least being comparable with the rest of the internet, so clearly we have a problem.

Bad SEO

Our Search Results aren’t bad across the board, we do get a little traffic. In the past, we didn’t bother with our own Search Optimisation because we were so focused on networking and referrals. The result – almost no search traffic, which, for a web shop that does SEO, isn’t great. We do currently rank 1st for “Web development Glasgow” which brings us on average ~20 hits a month. The site was built two, almost three years ago, we didn’t keep up with changes and trends in the search engines, so we’re suffering now.

Slooow

The homepage took 3.something seconds to load and weighs 1.1 Mb (I’m pretty proud of that to be honest). But it took a caching plugin and a Content Delivery network to get it there. The Render takes longer, almost 7 seconds because we loaded it up with so much JavaScript. We can do better.

Unmaintained & Difficult to update

We never added anything to it when it was done. It was put live and left about its business. No wonder it sucked. We never added content, never published new projects and never blogged, never tested it. We committed the cardinal sin of website ownership. We/I (let’s be honest) sucked at running our own website – how could we expect to inspire trust and expertise in the mind of potential clients with the site set up the way it was. A disgrace to ourselves.

And The Kicker…

It simply didn’t work. We received a few leads a month through the site, they rarely came to anything. The wrong leads from the wrong places – we would get people booking full website design and development projects for between £300 and £500, for probably a months worth of work. Or, we would get leads who knew exactly what they wanted and just needed an implementation – that wasn’t our or goal or what we set out to do at poweredbycoffee – we are not a commodity – we help you reach a goal or solve the problem for you, because we know how to solve that problem better than you do – because we are experts in what we do, like you are at what you do. You wouldn’t tell an architect how to design a building? You let them solve the problem at hand because they are the expect and they know more about architecture than you do. You bring poweredbycoffee in to solve a problem that you have defined and know needs solved, not to build your implementation.

What we did do well

Most of our inquiries through the site came in over the phone, we put the number and other contact information right up front and center. We made it super easy for people to get in touch. We also were really descriptive in the portfolio pieces we put up.

In conclusion

There was a tonne of things wrong with our old site – we’ve identified the problems and can now redesign the website to fix and solve the issues.

Up Next

In our next article we will take a closer look at the old site, what worked and what didn’t, what we can salvage and what to throw away.

Stewart Ritchie
Lead developer and founder of Powered By Coffee. Stewart has been building websites for 15 years and focusing on WordPress for 5. He founded Powered By Coffee in 2011 after finishing is masters degree. He lives in Guildford Surrey with his wife Sydney and their two cats.
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