For the past six months, our Custom Development Team has been nose to the grindstone working on the new TreatingPain website. We are currently on a happy high after launching the new custom theme for this valuable website.
TreatingPain helps people across the USA find solutions to their pain. Their site educates visitors on treatment options and makes it effortless to find nearby specialist doctors.
Newly Branded Theme, User Interface & Content Management TreatingPain came to our Custom Development Team for guidance on their WordPress site, and really for a complete overhaul on their online experience. They had a list of things they needed—including a better user experience, extensive content management, a modern looking theme, better SEO, an easy-to-use admin for staff, and the ability to grow. Our team delved in 100% and studied their user experience and their business goals. The site we delivered far surpassed the client's expectations, and we're proud of the work.
What do the Users Think?
The truth is in the stats. In the few weeks since the new TreatingPain site has been live, we've already seen the following numbers:
[stats][stat value="700" type="%"]Our client inquiries increased 700% after our new site launch.[/stat][stat value="50" type="hrs"]Reduced maintenance time for their site by over 50 hours annually.[/stat][stat value="75" type="%"]Cut down data migration time by 75%[/stat][/stats]
If you find yourself wanting to turn your website into a powerful tool for user acquisition, get in touch with our Custom Development Team. With more powerful business intelligence than ever and a talented team of designers, product managers and developers, the WP Valet holds an exciting opportunity for your business.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's "natural" or un-paid ("organic") search results.
Pretty simple and makes complete sense right?
That definition is also a broad blanket statement. How exactly does one "affect the visibility of a web page"?
You probably already know a little something about what I call mechanical search optimization. This term refers to how your web pages are structured technically.
Proper use of Headings
Image Alt tags
Number of words
These days, making sure you have the proper optimization isn't that hard if you follow some basic structural guidelines and use tools like the WordPress SEO plugin for WordPress to gauge your per-page performance.
Doing this makes your web page more visible to search engines.
When I talk about human optimization, I'm referring to the content as seen on your web pages and how real people see, skim, or read that content.
Do your page titles generate that first action of creating an interest in reading further?
Does your content evoke an emotional response from your readers?
Does your content present a problem and then offer an actionable solution to be put into practice by others?
Doing these things makes your web pages (and the content on those pages) more visible and accessible to actual humans.
Not only that, but if your content is original, useful, and to the point, it's likely to be shared more.
Search Engine Optimization "Tactics"
Make no mistake, there are baseline optimizations that can and should be done when creating content, but they should not be your only focus.
It's All About Content, Discovery, and Conversions
What people really mean when they say “SEO” is the idea of optimizing content for discovery and conversion across a wide spectrum of the web … not just search engines.
When I read that article it was clear that Sean had tapped directly into the emotional pain point that myself and many of my colleagues have been trying to express, but couldn't quite put into words.
His call to redefine the term SEO into something more in line with what search optimized content really means will quickly become a mantra for those of us writing our own content and who are teaching individuals and businesses the importance of creating original, useful, and optimized content to be shared with their audiences.
Sean goes on to offer a two part definition to his "OC/DC" terminology:
External optimization is focused on the type of traffic you want to attract to your site and the research and refinements of gaining that traffic.
This encompasses not only search engines, but also gaining traffic from social sites, other blogs, and content syndication sites.
On-site optimization focuses on the traditional technical aspects of SEO, but also on what you do with that traffic once they arrive at your site.
In other words, when someone visits your site from any individual source, what action is it you want that visitor to perform and how to you guide them to that action?
SEO is Dead - Optimized Content is Alive and Kicking
The term SEO has become corrupt.
It's unfortunate because in and of itself, it's a very descriptive and innocuous definition for something that still matters if your managing your own website and content marketing strategies.
But the days of creating a page with sub-par content and then using unprofessional tactics like buying links and comment spamming to drive traffic are over.
You may not have even known this was happening with your content, especially if you've previously contracted with an SEO company promising the front page on Google and "X" number of backlinks to your site.
Search engines are smarter and people are smarter.
Being Realistic about SEO
Now, I know that the term SEO is not going to go away anytime soon. It's just too common and well known at the moment.
However, in my workflow with businesses and individual clients, I am going to continue to promote the benefits of thinking about search optimization in different terms.
Specifically, the "OC/DC" terms...Optimizing Content for Discovery and Conversions.
Recently we discovered one of our web developers here at WPValet, Cole Stevenson, working on a unique project.
You see the world of business - and especially technology - changes quickly. Likewise, so do your customers’ needs from their website. Cole’s project – which we’ll tell you about in just a minute – makes websites that address clients’ needs in real time. This way they – and Cole's business – don’t fall behind shifts in technology.
But, here’s the best part: If you can learn to do something like what Cole is doing and replicate it for your clients, you’ll provide a value most developers can’t.
The Background of Developing a Website
The client requested a very interactive website to inform customers where their mobile locations would be and when they’d be there. They also wanted to personally update the information on their website on their own.
The client had already contracted with someone else for the design so Cole had to work around that. He developed the site – and the backend functionality – so it can be changed and adapted to the client’s needs. Plus, the upgraded backend is clean and easy-to-use so updating the content is simple and straightforward – even for the most technologically challenged client.
Here’s Cole to tell you about the project in his own words …
Meet Coleman Stevenson
Tell us a little about where you’re from and where you call home now?
I’ve lived in just about every major city in Texas. Austin has the best tech community I have lived in so far, so I’m happy to call it home.
How and when did you get your start in web development?
I was probably about 11 or 12 years old and I wanted to make a video game website. So like any newbie at that time, I installed Microsoft FrontPage and started to figure things out.
Do you have any special accolades or accomplishments you’d like to share?
My accomplishments in the WordPress community are modest ones. I enjoyed creating a Fundraising and Email Newsletter plugin from scratch.
I'm generally proud of anything that made it out into the world, and I hope that at least one person found some of the things I have created useful.
What is it that you love most about developing a website with WordPress? And how long have you been using WordPress?
I've been using WordPress for about four years. The community is the obvious answer. The amount of sites utilizing WordPress right now seems astronomical compared to when I first started working with it.
That means there is a great deal of help and insight from others as well as opportunity to make really great plugins and themes for a lot of people.
Please tell us about the importance of a website growing and adapting with the clients needs?
When I first started creating sites with WordPress, it was your basic “hackish” beginner methods of construction. Ridiculous amounts of page and post categories or tags that were string coded to do different things in the theme.
Whenever I would return to the sites I could tell my client's just gave up and eventually stopped using it. And, if they did continue to use it, I would get that phone call or email, "How do I add a new slide to my home page again?”
Content is king these days, and if a client can't easily add or create content on their site as they grow they’ve wasted their money in my opinion.
When developing a website how do you decide what will make the backend easier for the client to use?
Plan, plan, plan, and plan. My goal during this phase is to think about the operations that are going to be used the most. Then I try to get the lowest amount of required interactions with the interface while making an effort to keep it styled as close to the default WordPress admin style as possible.
The client feedback I’ve accumulated over the years - and continue to accumulate - makes each project more intuitive and exciting to use.
What are the “custom” tools you built into the backend of this project?
Just about every section in the backend is custom to a certain extent. I think some of the more notable customized interfaces would be the live preview of Home Page Slides as you are constructing them.
The mobile location interface was the most complex. Handling multiple mobile units with multiple dates and addresses seemed daunting at first. But, with the proper UI/UX planning, it was easier than I thought it might be.
Can you tell us about how the backend of this website allows the client to easily edit, update, and keep their website fresh?
This particular client has multiple administrators that will be in charge of specific areas. So the first step was to only show the sections that are relevant to the user.
This helps to not overload a new user with too many options when they first login. I also include helpful tool-tips for certain options that need explanation, as well as including larger contextual help buttons at the top of every page.
The biggest barrier to keeping a site fresh is being stuck and not knowing what to do. So I try to keep those users in mind from the beginning of the project.
What’s the reaction to the ability to preview changes to certain elements of the site directly in the backend?
Granted this isn't a wildly original idea in plugins and themes but clients are just blown away by it. I think so many people have experienced WordPress with the usual process of making an edit then previewing the change – then going back and changing something else for what seems like an eternity.
It’s just not a fun user experience and the content ends up being malformed most of the time operating like that. It’s a win-win for clients. Save time and have your content look better? Yes, please!
Do you believe that a website should be a tool for interaction with customers?
On this project specifically, we did a large integration with a well known non-profit donation management system called Convio. This system offers constituent tracking that made it easy for us to relate website users to their previous donors.
Specific website interactions like purchasing something from the store, inquiring about volunteer opportunities, and looking for clinic resources are linked with Convio allowing them to retain better analytical data. This was very important for an organization that needs frequent donor interaction to stay operational.
Why is it so much better than just a static informational page, which many developers sell their clients on?
Fresh content keeps users engaged. This doesn't work for every client. If you’re a mom and pop store that hired me to get a home page and contact page up and running then sure, keep it static.
But why not build your static content on a dynamic platform like WordPress to allow yourself growth in the future? It will save you money and hopefully increase your sales in the long run.
What’s your biggest goal when developing a site for a client?
My first is client satisfaction, but within that I think WordPress is one of the biggest economically equalizing forces on the internet right now. If I can give smaller businesses a tool that lets them compete with the big boys then I feel satisfied as well.
Behind-the-Scenes of the Project
Now that you understand Cole’s goals for the site, let’s take a more in-depth look at a few of the tools he built in …
This backend tool allows the client to input the location of their mobile units for up to a year in advance. It also automatically clears dates as they pass and can save locations to repeat later.
This is shown on the homepage with the next 10 days of where the units will be and even displays a Google map with the location directly on the homepage.
Easily Updated Slider
Options are pre-set so the client only has to select a box to change the color or images and edit the text. Plus, when they make changes the homepage slider is automatically updated in real-time. To make it even easier it’s previewed directly on the backend so they can get it just how they want without going back and forth to view their changes one at a time.
Custom Function Tabs
For each custom function there is a custom tab for the end user to easily find and modify their site. They’re very intuitive and user friendly with custom icons to make the right function easy to find.
As you can see from this project, a website that’s fresh and updated often is quickly becoming desired by small businesses. They simply need it to compete. And, when you give your clients the tools to achieve what they want from their site, you’ll be highly sought after - which means more projects for you!
So what about you? What are you doing to make websites more functional for your clients?