269 – What does a web design process look like?

‘WordPress Business Bootcamp’ with Nathan Wrigley and David Waumsley


Welcome to another in the Business Bootcamp series where we relearn everything we know about building WordPress sites and running a web design business from start to finish.

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We are at the start of Season 2, where we start ‘The Design Process’. Here, we are looking at structure, branding, copy, aesthetics but not the technical side (which is for Season 3).

The first episode is called  “What does a web design process look like?”

Nathan and David are taking contrasting approaches to getting their new businesses running and their first client’s site built. She is a new lawyer with no previous site called Ms A.

A quick recap on where we are in the process so far?

Nathan:  Going Traditional with fixed pricing. He has presented a proposal and contract. Set some expectation on the plan with has a deadline.

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David:  Going agile. Fixed fee for a sprint of work. His proposal is nothing formal. He is going with  the plan of a minimal viable website. He is diving in with an estimate, but there’s room to see how it goes. The aim is to allow the client to be more hands on if the wish.

We got the job! Episode 1. What does a web design process look like?

Episode intro: The Problem

There is never going to be one design process or order of jobs because of the client’s circumstances:

  • If they already have branding in place (colours, a logo, font choices already) we are probably going halfway there with the aesthetics.
  • If they are ready, have some knowledge from SEO work or don’t need it, traffic is not going to be our concern.
  • If they have web copy done by a professional, we only have to illustrate it and make it easily digestible.

In our case there is nothing. New business. No logo.  No words. No branding.

We call ourselves a web designer, but here were are going to have to wear multiple hats and be:

  • Branding experts
  • SEO experts
  • Marketing/ conversion strategists
  • Copywriter/ Storyteller
  • Visual designer….

That’s all before the next season where we pretend to be developers too!

Not all of us do all these (well) and not all clients appreciate the multi-skills required in a web project!

One way


The process David was first exposed to back in 2006 (ish) was very much focussed on getting the content into a site structure and then on a visual design.

Card sorting – to get all the information that needed to be on a site and then on to the “information architecture” (what stuff on what page and in what directories). This is mostly need by the developer.

Mood boarding – to get colour, textures and typography sorted. This is mostly needed by the designer.

This was something done by my Government employers, and was the same for Headscape and other large agencies (we learned via the Boagworld podcast).

We thought it was cool – all that interactive wireframing and meetings. Now we think it was rubbish advice!

These were large organisations with little concern for traffic and conversion. University and government sites don’t have to sell anything.

The very opposite to what most of our clients need to focus on.


I usually just paid a designer to sit in the meeting, or read the notes that I took and then mocked up a design in Photoshop. Often we did x2 (or more) so that they could have a pick of the one that they preferred.

It was quite fun as we always had a wireframe of a layout in the background, and kinda just added / modified colours.

This was in the day when the one layout was all that you needed as there was not responsiveness to worry about.

Priorities – and the order of the design process

1. Strategy / aims – knowing the expectation of the site.

Perhaps our local Lawyer has lots of local promotions that take the pressure off what the site has to feature.

Have they got a plan for Google business, a route to get reviews, social media networks in place

Are they planning on blogging (what happens when they read the blog)? Is there a lead magnet to get email addresses – will they need to divert to a special hidden page?

I have a client now who has had her very attractive site for 5 years. Not one lead! So does any of this matter?

I think there is a problem in our industry.  Clients mosty do want leads; they just don’t understand how they are got and don’t want to buy what they don’t understand. I push some keyword research more now.

2. Traffic – if no one finds it – the rest is pointless.

Perhaps keyword / competitor research should determine structure – including what needs to be blog content. Looking for weaknesses in other, rival websites.

I offered this a few times and bought some pretty cool software, but nobody ever really took this seriously. The one client that I had who did, we got pretty high up in the Google really fast.

Tricky with Local SEO. Sometimes the money is better spent offline.

3. Copy. Words sell… and they need to support SEO needs.

Words also need to tell a story where the visitor is the hero whilst also bringing clarity.

4. Page structure and spacing so the right content stands out in chucks and the CTA is clear.

My clients mainly wanted the phone to ring and so we out that top-right in HUGE font!

Many say that this is important, but I think most lose business as they don’t have the phone staffed, don’t appreciate the times their visitors may be online, or have the skill or time to respond well.

5. Fonts and key images

Not a lot to say here really, I just found free ones if they did not have anything!

6. Colour and texture (icons bg blobs and things the stop thing looking stalk, but branded and consistent.

Again, the domain of the designer. I’m realising how much I relied on them!!!!!

They could form a structure of layering of a new build. However, the order is not always possible.

Perhaps the branding needs to be in place with the logo first for business cards and flyers ahead of the site launch?

Agile v’s Traditional

Probably in terms of where to start, this is not a factor that comes in to how we do the above.

The challenge for Agile is finding a why to incorporate the client in the process.

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[00:00:00] Welcome to the WP Builds podcast. Bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Welcome your hosts, david Waumsley, Nathan Wrigley.

[00:00:21] Hello there and welcome to the WP Builds podcast. Once again, this is episode number 269 entitled. What does a web design business look like? It was published on Thursday, the 10th of March, 2022. My name's Nathan Wrigley. And I'll be joined in a few short minutes by my colleague David Wamsley, so that we can discuss that podcast.

[00:00:43] But before that a few bits of housekeeping, if you enjoy the WP Builds podcast, I would love it. If you felt able to share it, do that in whichever way you like possibly on your podcast player of choice, or perhaps go into Facebook or YouTube or Twitter, whatever it might be. And you could just mention a share it in that way.

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[00:02:46] Okay, what are we doing today? Like I said, we're on episode number 269. It's called what does a web design process look like? And in this episode, we are in season two, we've had six episodes of season one.

[00:02:59] This is episode number one of season two. And we're trying to figure out what the whole web design build process might look like. We've got loads of hats to wear because. Implies that we need to do so many different things. Get the design, understand the mood, decide upon the sources of traffic. There's SEO, colors, fonts, all of that kind of stuff.

[00:03:18] So many hats to wear. How do we go about getting all of this down so that the client understands it? I'm joined by David Wamsley. It's a lovely conversation. And I hope that you enjoy. Welcome to another in the business bootcamp series, where we relearn everything we know about building WordPress sites and running a web design business from start to finish, we are the start of season two, where we start the design process here.

[00:03:45] We're looking at structure branding, copier, aesthetics, but not the technical side, which we're going to say. For season three. So this first episode is called, what does a web design process look like? And in this Nathan and I take in contrasting approaches to get our new business up and running and our client's site built, and she is a new lawyer with no previous site or any brand in, and we were called in a miss a, so Nathan, shall we just recap where we're at?

[00:04:15] Yeah. So in the first series, it seems quite grand. It doesn't it calling it a series, but there you go. In the first several episodes we laid the foundations of what our business, how it would interact with our clients. Let's put it that way. I'm going through. The I'm going to call it old fashioned now going for the old fashioned waterfall technique, where essentially I pitch everything that may be done at the beginning with things like proposals, and it's got a fixed price and all of that, and hopefully get all of that signed off.

[00:04:50] And then once all of that has been tied down and we know exactly what is going to be done, then we proceed and we proceed to this point. You, on the other hand, Yeah, but you different way of doing things. Yeah. I'm going for the kind of new. Move, I think for a lot of industries, agile approach where it's some of the problems with some projects are that you can't know at the beginning, what really is needed at the end, or it restricts what you could do through having this kind of proposal.

[00:05:20] So I can go in this agile approach where really I don't have a proposal. I just suggest we start maybe with a kind of minimal viable website and we build upon. To move with the way that the media is with websites change in and what the requirements are. So that's the general aim with it.

[00:05:39] Yeah, mine's a little bit more chaotic, but it just gives us a lot more flexibility. Yeah. It requires a certain leap of faith. Doesn't it? You've got to be able to have confidence in your processes in the future, and also the, your ability to communicate effectively during the process and that everything is going.

[00:05:56] How to describe it. You're going to have a direct line of communication with your clients and they're going to be incredibly responsive at all times. But we'll see. We'll see. So the design process, what does it look like? So this is the beginnings of actually fleshing out what the website will be like.

[00:06:14] Yeah. And I, I think that's, I don't think any of us have a good design process. I've, I guess we don't know what each of us look like, and it's going to vary, called into what we specialize in terms of web design. Some of us are more developers. Some of us are more designers, some of us are into branding and marketing and that, so it's going to vary, I think for all of us, but.

[00:06:40] Without that in the equation, there's never going to be one design process because the client's circumstances are going to be different. Some are going to come with their branding and colors in place and font choices. So we will have little to decide on in terms of the aesthetics. Lot of that will be done.

[00:06:58] Some. I have plenty of SEO knowledge. They've got the traffic they need from an existing sites that they didn't need work there, or, and they may have their own professional copyright or have that already for us. So our roles are going to change aren't they? Yeah. Actually it's my experience at least anyway, is that nobody ever had all of those.

[00:07:20] There was always a great deal of that work that was left to me. And back in the day, go back 10, 15 years. I think a lot of these areas, you could have a fair degree of expertise. By yourself, you could be Jack of all trades, but as the world gets more and more technical and the machinations of the internet mean that there are whole industries now of SEO, and there are whole industries of copywriters and designers.

[00:07:50] I feel that work is harder now than it's ever been to stand out and be credible. And know what you're talking about in all of those things. Is, it was more difficult than it's ever been. You've got to wear more hats on those hats are. Yeah, indeed. We're still, to clients still come asking for a website and a web designer is I'm sure none of us really talk to each other and say what we're good at because we could be, I put a list down here.

[00:08:19] We could be branding experts, primarily SEO X, but it's marketing and conversion strategists. We could be copywriters or storytellers or visual designers. And those are all the things that we might. This season before we move on to the next season where we pretend to be developers as well. Yeah. And all of those, like I've just said all of those feel like credible careers.

[00:08:42] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. But when I was beginning in this industry, I feel that many of them weren't, they were just things which you threw in the mix and you will have to throw in the mix. I think if you want to pitch successfully for websites, you are going to have to claim some expertise. Many of these areas, I would say, particularly branding and.

[00:09:07] Should we assume for our lawyer that we've got to do it all. So we've got to wear all of these hats for this. I know that when you think your weakness might be on visual design, you'll get somebody in on, previous jobs, you would get a designer and if you felt they needed one, but shall we assume for the sake of this series that we're going to do all of the jobs, and the expectation is that you'll be.

[00:09:32] Fairly competent at all of it. Let's just take that as a given, then we can pass muster on all of this, even though we may not be the best at. Yeah. And it gives us a chance anyway, to talk about all of them, because in most cases I do wear all of those hats. Think I mean there's some something with the agile process I go through is that I feel would be, feel comfortable to be that kind of generalist.

[00:09:56] And if there's somebody who can be brought in, because there's a budget, they can do one area of this better than me then. Yeah. Come in merrily. I'd love for you to do that particular thing that you're good at. I guess if the budget allows for it, you can, of course hire somebody to do any one of those things.

[00:10:14] You may get some SEO person in, or perhaps a graphic designer or some, something like that, but let's assume it's us. And we were talking earlier and it got really interesting. I thought this is a whole series. And just talking about. Process itself because we probably started roughly around the same time when the net, I guess most people were starting, we're still learning how to style the internet.

[00:10:39] And most people were still thinking in terms of brochure sites, they're claiming their space on the web. Before we really got into all this kind of clever SEO and conversion stuff that we know today. And that influenced mine. I don't, if it did for you for learning initial processes, did you have a process that you learned from anybody else?

[00:11:00] No, I really didn't. I did actually, at some point by it was a great big ring bound folder. By site to point. Do you remember site point? Yeah. Site point used to produce lots of manuals and how to guides and it was paper-based. So you would get it through the mail or you go to the bookshop and I had a great big course that you could go through and it was all in a.

[00:11:26] Lever arch file. And there were about six CDs that came with it. So you could download some of the templates and it was called something like the website business, something or other, I can't remember, but it purported to have everything in there. Honestly, it was about 300 pages. I probably got about 20 pages in and thought this isn't for me, I'm just feeling shackled by everything in here.

[00:11:51] So I did endeavor. But I failed in that endeavor and I ended up just making it myself and you have to making it up for myself. But like you just said, you have to remember that back in the day, people literally equated websites with, is there a website there, does something exist? Yes, job done.

[00:12:14] That was to some people that was all that was needed. Does it look nice? Yes. Is it alive? Can I see it? Yes. Then we've succeeded. And only later did all the other things start to creep in. Google didn't exist. There was no search engine. It was directory. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. People's expectation.

[00:12:35] Just not understanding the changing of marketing content, marketing the effects of the long tail and how that would impact on, traditional business models that, it's it really flipped everything on its head, but in the early days of the web, we didn't really fully appreciate that.

[00:12:52] But I did have a, most of us who have to wear all the hats. Build sites for clients, did it for ourselves first. And then we carry forward what we know from there. But I did do a bit of learning because I was in an organization, a government organization who made very public, the building of their new site.

[00:13:13] And at the same time I was listening to, as I've often mentioned, Bo Agworld, who used to see had scape and other ones. And I used to listen to them and they all had a pretty similar approach to. And they were do exercises like card sorting to get everybody involved in finding out what bits of information needed to go on that site and that stake in those things.

[00:13:37] And they were prioritize them to make up their information architecture. Then somebody would perhaps go away and make an interactive mood, not say not and be bored to a wire frame so they can see how it's all going to put together. That stuff. And then separately, that's really more for the developer who needed to build the site.

[00:13:54] And then you would have the mood board in where people would be putting together their ideas for textures, colors, typographic, that kind of thing, to get the general feel. And there might be discussions as well about the general personality, what they're trying to convey. And that would be for the designers and off they would go.

[00:14:11] I really loved all that stuff. I thought that I'm learning this stuff and I'm introducing these concepts to clients. I failed all the time, of course, but it seemed really professional, but now I realize it's just rubbish for what I need. These people were dealing with government agencies and universities and big organizations who people needed to go to their websites.

[00:14:34] Anyway, none of it was focused really on getting traffic and converting. Nothing was on really competing, which is what most of the clients who come to me need to do they, even though they don't say it, they really wanted their website to get them leads over their computer. Yeah. I think the climate was really different.

[00:14:56] People were very much figuring out what the internet was. It was quite likely that most people were not using the internet on a daily basis. Back then, you may be logging. For a matter of minutes each day, download your email and then you disconnect your modem. Do you remember those? The dial up?

[00:15:14] So there wasn't this always on expectation and not everything was online and it almost, it was a bit of a point of Q dos. Really? Oh, we've got a website. Oh, Why have you got that? Oh because this is the future. We've got a website and it shows people where we are and what the what the phone number is and all of this kind of stuff.

[00:15:35] So I think all of that has to be born in mind. A couple of points about my process. I ended up when we were putting this podcast episode together, I, we, we share the usual show notes and it became really obvious to me how much I relied on a couple of graphic designers. Essentially these people that I'd known for years and worked with for years became my foils.

[00:16:00] And I would simply give them what I understood the brief to be. And they would go away and return me one or two designs. And that would be priced into the initial offering. It may be one set of design ideas or two or three, depending on what they paid. And I would then show that to the clients.

[00:16:22] And a lot of the stuff that we're going to talk about today would be done in that design phase. Literally the Photoshop document would take care of a lot of it because it was all about the way it looked. It was simply we need a website. We want it to look nice that. And so looking back, I really did rely on the designers a lot.

[00:16:43] There was no responsive. We didn't need to worry about that. Nobody was thinking about SEO. Nobody was worried about call web vitals, all of this stuff. It was just, we need a website. Can it be done to look nice? And have we got the money for it? Yes. Yeah. And I, 2006 really is when I saw built my first sites.

[00:17:02] And that was when the no spec movement was coming on. So up to that point and included in that time, clients are expected to be able to see something. So you was expected to mock up something like a homepage, so they could see before they gave you the job to build it. Everybody was thinking.

[00:17:21] You know that way. And the first jobs I did, getting paid for it, if you like properly was through my colleague and that's exactly her process, she would mock them up a very sort of simple version of a homepage. And if they like the colors, the typography, the general look, we built the site from there and that was the way to do it.

[00:17:41] But now it seems entirely upside down to me. Yeah. Obviously a lot of expertise is required now. Just be mindful. We're not suggesting that this is the way that you do it going forward, but that's just how it was. And there was no resources really, at best you would find.net magazine or something.

[00:18:03] And you would try to Scrabble together what it was that you thought was the best way to do it. I would imagine that the same is true for anybody who's been doing it as long as you and I have. They probably invented the techniques themselves and perfected them over time. But now. I think if you're beginning, as the series is intended to talk about you, you probably need to hit the ground running with quite a bit of this stuff, so let's dig into it.

[00:18:27] Yeah. I put down a list of, this is stuff I've only really thought about deeply over this last year. Very much recently about trying to communicate what we're trying to do with a website and the order, the priorities, and then effectively, if we can have. Priorities of what we're trying to do with a website.

[00:18:47] Can we build up the website in layers if you like of those different skills? I'll, we'll just went over quickly. The points I had. So if you started with strategy, what their expectation of the site was. It's likely to be done in terms of offline promotion. What needs to be done with the website that then might lead into something about finding out how you might compete, competitive research, keyword research to find out where the traffic's there, moving on to then looking at how you might structure the story, the copy throughout the site.

[00:19:21] Because once you know your traffic, you know your structure, then you can say copy into that. I've got the order wrong there cause I said copy and then structure. But and then we might move on to looking into just the laying out their sort of key areas on the site in basic setting up things into sections.

[00:19:42] So they're easy readable. And then we might put the design, the, if you like the brand in over the top of that to, add in the icons there. Background stuff that you might have that gives it some consistency and stops this basically document looking so stark. And that might be the order that you might do it in layers.

[00:20:01] Go in that way. Of course this doesn't work and it doesn't even work on the website I'm working at the moment because they it's a new site where they can have entirely new branding, but they needed to go to print. Build their business card. So they needed their logo and needed to put some flyers out before.

[00:20:20] So my lovely plan is already broken. No, but I think you've got to roll with the punches a little bit. And that's the case so be it, it can't be iron cloud and you're not going to say I'm sorry, you can't have your business cards with all your websites ready. That's not the way we work because your, you are Mr.

[00:20:39] Agile, but let's just go through that again. Cause I think it's really impacting. Just let's just lay this out. So your you've got this six point strategy, and this is in an ideal world, how you would have the order that you would do things and it's totally upside down from the let's go to a graphic design.

[00:21:00] Get the, get everything. Let's figure out what the look of it all is. It's completely upside down because that requires you to mock up some homepages. When you have no idea what the homepage really is trying to sell, you got the design and the brand and the colors and everything all done, but you're saying, so figure out what the strategies and aims of the business are.

[00:21:21] First. That's number one, number two. Do a bit of keyword research or something to figure out where that traffic is coming from. Number three, do the copy, get the words figured out. Number four, organize the way that the pages will look number five, think about things like fonts and what have you. And then finally, number six, which would have been my number one.

[00:21:47] And he's color and really the design, the final finessing of it all. Okay. That's brilliant. So we need to go through all of those points, yeah. Yeah it's for me now I've really changed all this one. I used to have keyword researchers this add on, you could do to see if you're going to compete.

[00:22:05] Now. I'm really feeling that I should start with that. And I think the last, the site I'm working on at the moment, just really highlighted that so well, because There was someone who had the site and a beautiful site, but they've got no leads from it. So it was in a good place in the first place. You'd had a beautiful site for five years.

[00:22:26] Nothing came from it at all. As she was getting business from somebody else's site to pause you there, that's an interesting definition of a beautiful sight. I don't need from the perspective of useful. It's not beautiful at all, but it's beautiful to look at, but it's not yet and not effective. Yes, exactly.

[00:22:44] And it's interesting. And so it's easy to say, let's do some research on this because they knew that their, who they were getting work from was doing quite well. But so we did some keyword research, but it told us that. And I think I can talk about what it is. So they are doing counselors like a therapy and what typically happens with that.

[00:23:03] And I think it's because of website designers that we've got that thing where we have that hero section, and then we have these sort of three areas. Underneath often, don't we? That's changing a little bit. Yeah. And I think what happened is a whole bunch of similar cause the vase similar, all the competition.

[00:23:22] So they section them off. Oh, we'll have individual counseling. Counseling and couples, counselors, these three things, and they'd be golfer into their own pages. What it turns out is that only one of them then have the actual counseling that people might search for is the couples. The rest are on page information.

[00:23:44] That's within the. Something that someone never searches on like individual counseling, no one bothers to CA we looked at no one actually types that in the UK at all. You realize that suddenly the structure of your site and the layout of most of these isn't matching. What's happening.

[00:24:01] And interestingly, she thought couples counseling was the most popular thing in demand, but Google tells us otherwise it's bereavement counseling. And it's just interesting. Once you start to do this, the whole structure of the site change from all the kind of competitors we looked at and what she had in the first place.

[00:24:19] And I thought, really it should do. From now on really? That should be the starting point. I would imagine that if the keyword research was dumb using whatever tool you prefer, if you did that really well at the very beginning, you would be more or less guaranteed to have a successful website. If you really did nail that.

[00:24:45] And you figured out, for example, that bereavement counseling is the two. To go at and nobody else has made that endeavor and nobody else's figured that one out you really are going to do well. Of course, I guess the problem we all face nowadays is that most people are doing their keyword research, hopefully quite well.

[00:25:07] So it just makes that as tricky a challenge as it's ever been. But yeah, you're right. It fascinating that they thought, and this, I think came up with time and time again for me when I was doing keyword research. And I was no expert at that. I would do the kind of basic stuff that most of us are equipped to do, but it was always interesting to me how completely disconnected the clients were with what their audience were actually looking for.

[00:25:34] They genuinely were firmly convinced that people were searching for such and such a term. And it turns out almost nobody was. And yeah, it's hard for them because they know they're busy. And I know what the feel of that business is. It's hard for them to hear somebody like me saying, yeah, but nobody wants.

[00:25:52] I think it's quite tricky as well because local SEO is maybe difficult because you don't have the numbers for local. So you that's right. Take some ideas from a larger picture. But in this particular case, again, just having this long discussion and getting into the keyword research revealed something, which was buried in her site.

[00:26:12] And it seems all a competitor site is that they didn't have, this was a center that they set it up. Really their site wasn't to serve the local area, which I thought it was, it turns out that a big growing part of their trade is online counseling, which could be international. And suddenly you realize that, oh, these were just one.

[00:26:35] Put on some pages, nothing that really search hinges could pick up on nothing that's likely to get found. And you just think, wow, again, suddenly the nature of doing this kind of process, this structure change the nature, the whole layout of the site and how the aims would be and what. I thought it was going to be the main feature would be this new center that they created and put lovely pictures of the rooms that they've gotten outside.

[00:27:01] Look of it. It turns out that well in the area that she's in local advertising, everybody's going to know about what that is. So it can be a small feature of the homepage. Cause there's other bigger things to deal with, like the online, which they want to grow, things like that. So really fascinating.

[00:27:18] So now I've really become a convert to the idea that we probably shouldn't start until we have some idea. H how the, how traffic will come to a site and what they're up against in terms of competition. Most of them will offer various different parts, different services. If you're a electrician, say you probably do lots of different types of work, you might do.

[00:27:41] Light in or something like that. Maybe one of your competitors is pretty poor. They've just put this city. Most of them put it in a list item somewhere buried in the page rather than have their own individual page. So I think there's always something where you can, you need to look at it and say, okay, we're going to structure this whole site to, try and work on how we can compete locally.

[00:28:04] Yeah, the really nice thing about that as. Is that you can, you could have a real impact really quickly in a measurable way. So you could, it could be night and day. Goodness. The old website went died on Monday. The new website came live on Tuesday and we see an uptick in traffic for those particular terms.

[00:28:31] And yeah, and we can chart it increasing over time. And it genuinely is driven by the research that we did at the beginning. And that's a difficult thing to sell to a client keyword research because it's boring and it doesn't have that sort of what it's not particularly sexy is it's just not a very interesting task.

[00:28:50] I would imagine for most people to do. And you're, you're in. Tables and spreadsheets and looking at data and it's a bit uninteresting, but the measurable effect could be transformed. Yeah, I think it could be. And even if it's not, at least it gives you something to test you. At least you've got a theory to test against, even if it's not working for you, you've got a logic to how you set them up rather than just what you think might be.

[00:29:18] You, we talked before this and you were saying the same. You had, sometimes with clients, you had some great ideas for what they could do with their business, but it was difficult to sell it. And I've had to sacrifice. Problem, I make it too complex for the client to understand what we're talking about so they don't buy into it because they don't understand what we're selling them.

[00:29:40] Yeah. So a couple of points there. The first one is I was guilty. So many times of being talked down. By clients. I don't mean talk down to, literally I'd go in and say, look, we could do this, and this. All of them are great ideas, go for it. And they would say, I don't want this, or this.

[00:29:59] I just want a website. I, for an easy life, I'd often go, okay, we'll just go with that. And didn't really get into the whole explaining thing. The other thing is that your process or. Agile work where basically they're with you for the ride. You know that it's not like the website's built by maybe a care plan.

[00:30:19] You are constantly dealing with them. Hopefully for years and years to come, you get to position yourself as somebody that's to going to adapt the SEO strategy or the key word. Can genuinely say, look we'll begin with this set of keywords and we'll try it out. And if it's not giving us results well we'll go and have a look at it again.

[00:30:43] Whereas with the waterfall model, unless there's a care plan, that's less likely to have. Yeah, and I think it does. It's finding that initial conversation I've now learned and it's literally, how long have we been doing this? I've only covered, just figured this out. That the first question I need to ask people is like, when they want a website, the first thing I tell them, everybody says that we will have different ideas.

[00:31:07] Do you need, if they need li. That's less start from that. And I want to explain, look how web, why websites, some websites do well and why others don't. And if we want to be one that does it we want to borrow from the tricks that they don't we to compete. And I start from that basis and try and keep everything as simple as possible, you know all this time to actually even get to that, realizing that perhaps in my case ought to be the first conversation I have. You see the problem here, David is you didn't read Joe blogs, his book, how to build a good website written in 1998, absolute wisdom in the anyway. So yeah, we've talked a lot about the strategy.

[00:31:55] So a lot of that comes into it and I th you know, I do, you showed me a site before. Started recording, which was brilliant. You should talk about that. Okay. So literally last week. I buy occasionally we get a takeaway meal and we have a Curry. And what I do is the process that I go through is I phone up the number, which is in my telephone.

[00:32:19] And I order the Curry that, that we typically have, or, slight variation of it. I phoned up and they were closed. And so what do you do when that happens? I went straight to Google, actually. I didn't, I went to a.dot go, but the point's the same. I went to a search engine and I typed in Curry and Scarborough, which is where I live the as is always the case.

[00:32:45] The first result that I came. I clicked. Cause I thought this is what I want. I need a Curry that there it is. I can see it on the map. There's a little pen. I know it's close by. There'll be able to help me out. And I was taken into an experience which was utterly brilliant. There was no web page as such.

[00:33:04] There was basically a buying experience. I went straight from clicking on the link in Google into what do you want to do? It wasn't just here's a menu with some prices. It was, what do you want for us? Do you want to start there or something along those lines? No. Okay. What about a main, how many of these do you want this?

[00:33:25] This, I was done in three minutes, which was considerably quicker than a phone call and it arrived in half an hour and we had a delicious tasty meal. The point though was I was expecting a website, a typical brochure website, where I would then pick up the phone. Was e-commerce and it was just brilliantly.

[00:33:48] Yeah, and I think it's exactly the same. That's how I'd approached it. You're thinking about, and it's there still, isn't it? What happens is that you go to the home page, it redirects you basically to the shopping experience. There is a homepage still there. If you click back to home which has the regular stuff you would expect to see, pictures of careers and I think some picture of the restaurant itself, for a lot of things, I'm never going to go in that restaurant.

[00:34:18] The main key part of a home page is something that is of no interest to them at all. So I think it's ingenious and that all of these things are getting me to think a lot more about talking to clients better and just doing some of that competitor and keyword research. Not maybe not just focusing on that, but just really drilling down into the little hidden things.

[00:34:39] Like I say, this person, little line on the old website saying we do it online. You know that business, when you realize that's actually half of that business and grow in, and they want to promote it more, could entirely be missed. I think that the illustration for me, the sort of aha moment in that Curry website experience was if I'd have built them a website, I would have had the, I would have had the process completely wrong.

[00:35:06] I wouldn't have done that. I would have done the sort of typical home page with a link to some sort of, I dunno, e-commerce WooCommerce. There's some plugins to handle specifically, take away food. Now isn't there. And I probably would have built the website in the normal way, but that's so not what the visitors want.

[00:35:27] They want. Yes. They want to be just, okay, give me a Curry off we go. So it was just, I was really taken by it. It was really good. Yeah. I think, with the. One of the earlier. They all go. I think most of it goes into the strategy because the copy comes out of that as well, because, I think we don't appreciate it so much.

[00:35:48] And often we might just leave it to the clients to give us the words, but the words are probably the things that are going to sell what you offer more than anything else that we do. And I think. Getting a consistency between I think our job now, this has changed is really to illustrate the word. It's the sales copy.

[00:36:10] Yeah. What our job is, it's often I think, or certainly for me, they used to be, that's why we've put sticking, we have a website that looks like a website and we haven't got the words yet. So we'll stick in some Lauren Epson and that'd be fine. It'll still like a website, but when you think about it, it again, it's upside down.

[00:36:30] Isn't it? It's interesting because I literally can't do good graphics. Logos and things. I can do the most atrociously basic ones, but yeah, somebody with the right skills can knock out in less time, something inspirational. And I think the same is true for copy. I think some people just have that flat.

[00:36:53] You've met people who are area Dighton, they can just spell the right things. And certainly when it comes to sales and pushing all the buttons that compel people to carry on the website or follow a particular path, I think really this is the domain of experts, but it's odd because most of us that have been through school, have the capacity to create the tech.

[00:37:17] Whereas most of us that went through school do not have the capacity to draw or create a logo. So I think a lot of us have got the idea that, oh we'll do some nice sales, but I think if the budget allows and it's possible to get a copywriter in everybody that I know who has employed a copywriter has not regretted it.

[00:37:42] Yeah. I think, I feel I've learned some of the basics from write blogs, like copy hackers. And it gives me a much better chance of being able to write web copy than someone a client would do. A client, usually they learn writing skills from school where the correct grammar is important, but where correct grammar really isn't important on the web.

[00:38:06] It's communicated with people. In fact, talking the way that your visitors might talk is a better way to communicate with them. Yeah, I think, copy hackers, talk about that. Then they often borrow the words from people who've left reviews and build that into the copy for a site, because it actually has the sound and the feel of what real users, how they talk.

[00:38:28] But anyway, so yeah the difficulty with all of these, I said about the layers turned into upside down, so we would get the copy and then, obviously. Don't want too much of it. So it's got to be very succinct. It's got to be something that people could read quickly. So it's going to be chunked onto our pages and somebody who very much influenced me.

[00:38:53] Laura Elizabeth, you had a talk a couple of times on the. Page builders summit. And I loved her talks because she does this thing where she's really training developers, how to do design. And she has a lovely structure where she shows how you put together a page as you starts with the copy sections are off.

[00:39:13] So it's got good spaces. Then she moves on to the fonts and she puts in the key images as well that she's going to need on that. And the last thing that goes in is the color and the texture, the background blobs, or whatever the icons to give it. So she works that way round. But you, it that, by the way, I do think that is ingenious because it, I think it genuinely is the opposite of what I would normally do.

[00:39:36] Yeah, it's the space, but there is one where the fly in New York with all of this, with the process is the fact that. You could argue. That the color texture, that branding stuff is right at the beginning where it should be strategy, because that might be the point where you say, okay, what is the, there is a great question, which somebody asks about websites.

[00:39:59] So I occasionally ask clients this one, if your website needed to be a famous personality, who would it be? Just so you get the voice of that website. So it's consistent with the copy, Yeah. And it's a good way of getting, what it would look like. And then in a way, some of your imagery and the words would have to be the same.

[00:40:24] If you say, we weren't, or we were not, that would be a consistency you'd want to get through your site, whether you say we're not, or whether you're. You're more informal or something like that. You'd need to decide. So maybe our lawyer may have my need to convey something that sounded always very formal.

[00:40:48] Yeah. I think that's true, actually. Excuse me. I've got the frog in my throat. I think that's absolutely true. I think they would typically want to go with something a bit more formal. Everything grammatically, correct? Yeah, no kind of use of. Or kind of street language or no hint of trying to look cool. Maybe there's the old lawyer out there who would like that, and that would work for them.

[00:41:10] But typically I think that just after something straight laced, no frills professional down the line, and yes, that can be delivered, but equally you might be building a website for a totally different kind of client and you, you want to reflect that language back, honestly. All it takes is to have teenage kids to realize how quickly language changes and how quickly you are left behind the next generation who are literally 20 years behind.

[00:41:43] You are talking in words that you don't even know the meaning slang and it's totally normal to them. My, my kids genuinely use words and I have no idea what they mean, and they smoke and giggle amongst themselves. When I say, what is that? Oh, dad, you're not cool. It's important. You've got to get the language.

[00:42:06] Yeah. And it's important to them that they differentiate themselves with their own language. It's important that you're not cool, that's right. And I think, it is interesting what people do with, copy hackers are great. I used to get emails from them and I used to notice, and I see this trend growing even more on blog posts now where literally.

[00:42:27] There is no more than one short sentence per line with a space easy. So a paragraph now is just one very short sentence because of the way that people skip over this way to Twitter, what you've done to we have to adjust an a and the, I think that's true, but I find the process. I do think this idea of late.

[00:42:51] The way I'm trying to think about restructuring my business. Now, I think I would think that way, because I'm doing this agile approach. Okay, I'm going to be there. I need to make the processes. I do transparent to the client so they can be involved. Should they want to be, which I have the will, but also I need to allow for teamwork in where effectively someone could take on some part of it.

[00:43:11] So if someone was coming in for the design now with my idea of layers, I would still think in this order of priorities, but. If I was doing the early strategy bit, they would get that information about what those colors and textures might need to do when they tighten up the, but that the thing might be in place these days, the rest of it, the copy might already be there.

[00:43:32] It's okay, just make this now look. I do. I do think it would be an anxious busting experiment for me to have tried it this way. In other words, copy comes first. We've got the short sentences and then we go and fit them into containers on the website to make them look beautiful with the aesthetic that we've chosen, because I was forever trying to squeeze long portions of text into spaces that they simply wouldn't go into.

[00:43:57] And because the conversation hadn't happened and we hadn't got the copyright, we just received something from the client that they thought was appropriate. Invariably, it was too long and it was difficult for them to make the time to make the modifications. We should have done that in the order that you're suggesting I do like this.

[00:44:14] Yeah it's just the, I'd love to hear what people do with their structures, how it, I guess it's how you define your priorities in that. But for me, certainly, and I'm sure a lot of people in the same situation, it used to be know the thing we talked about when we last talked was getting content from clients and I've often wanted to ask people, what do you mean by that?

[00:44:37] I didn't. Do you hold off until they give you the whole copy or do you want to be involved in the process of building that copy, or are you literally just making something that looks like a website that looks pretty based around what they give you and it's not your responsibility it's, I'm sure we all approach it differently.

[00:44:57] Yeah, definitely. I've. Biting off more than I think an individual can chew, but I think some kind of structure, some kind of process that you're comfortable where there's a really hard thing to achieve. And I think it's where we're steeped in our history of how we used to do sites and think about it and what issues we have with clients.

[00:45:17] That is a really good point. And, I made the point earlier that back in the day, there were virtually no boxes to tick. You could just throw a design up and so long as it was active. Web host somewhere job done. Now, as we've seen, there's a whole gamut of different things that need to be achieved.

[00:45:35] Keyword, research, copy, structure, fonts, colors, textures, all of that stuff that we've gone through by the way, I'll put them all as separate bullet points in the show notes so that you can see what this process might look like. But but I do think it's hard, hard for people like you and I, to unpick everything that we've learnt or not.

[00:45:56] And go through it the new way. So if anybody who is young and beginning their journey with all this is listening to this podcast, it would be interesting to know what your thoughts are, where you're at and what your process is going to be. Whether it's going to be the more formal waterfall technique I had or whether you're going to go with something topsy turvy, like David.

[00:46:15] But either ways, even if you're not doing that, I think, how do we position in this day where we've got page builders and many clients believe in that they can just do it themselves. How we can distinguish ourselves? I think is often you mentioned this before we went live here about the fact that's almost a business in there, with.

[00:46:35] The kind of marketing side. I don't know how you get those over, but websites where you say, we build websites like that get leads. That's what I mean, a lot of people do that anyway, but if you can explain how you do that, it makes us relevant. Doesn't it? Because there's no way. If you use a page builder and you get a structure template and you try and put the content into that's fine.

[00:47:00] But it may not do you much good in terms of business, in terms of getting new leads and axes, like there is a profession in here. Somebody that can go in on your behalf, let's assume that you're a freelancer and you genuinely. Have the expertise to explain all this yourself, somebody that could go in and meet the client on your behalf and just explain it all, explain what keyword research is and why it matters and why it might need to take place right at the start.

[00:47:31] Explain why you need to figure out what their strategy is. Explain the benefit of having good keyword research or I'm sorry, not keyword copy created in pages structured correctly. Just explain all that. 'cause I feel that's a difficult job to do. I don't know if anybody does feel that they're particularly good at explaining all that.

[00:47:52] I certainly was never. I always felt that I was tripping over myself in those conversations. When people ask me why do we need to do the keyword research? I just had a few little answers here because it will drive more traffic or we'll know what people are actually looking for. And there's probably some sort of deeper meaning in there that I never managed to get.

[00:48:10] Generally Nathan, there's a couple of, there's only a couple of people I know who are web designers. They've appeared who take an agile approach. And the interesting thing about both of these people is what their businesses are genuinely their businesses, all about marketing and branding. So they're starting with being very influenced by Donald Miller and a StoryBrand.

[00:48:32] And they're all about starting. The story for this brand and how they're going to convey this on the web. And I thought that was quite interested in that the only people I've found who take an agile approach start where I'm finding myself moving into, getting that in place first. Yeah.

[00:48:49] Yeah. That is interesting. It is. It is about creating the story. Isn't it? You are trying to figure out and take a journey with these people. Yeah. And yeah. Okay. I feel we've probably covered that. I think we have done it. We're going to, it sounds like the same topic. Next time. We're going to be talking about how do we structure a website, but there's lots to talk about here.

[00:49:11] Isn't there because of the fact that things we've alluded to hear about that, we have things like hidden, personalized content, hidden landing pages. We have lots of things have changed about menus with responsive there's loads of stuff to talk about. I think that'll be a really interesting topic.

[00:49:28] So we do these every two weeks. Yeah. If we intersperse them interview one week and then a chat with David and I on the following week. So we'll be back with episode two of season two in a couple of weeks. Thank you, David. And thank you. I hope that you enjoyed that episode. Lovely to chat with David as always, we do this series every two weeks.

[00:49:50] So we flip-flop between interview episodes, which I carry out with guests and the chat with David and I. So you'll have a couple of weeks to find out what episode two involves in our WordPress business boot camp series. But if there was anything in there, which you thought we'd missed out, perhaps something we got wrong, or maybe you'd like to agree with something.

[00:50:08] I head over to WP Builds.com and search for episode number 269. And you can leave a comment there. Alternatively, our wonderful Facebook group of over 3000, very polite, very well behaved. WordPress's [email protected] forward slash Facebook. You could make a comment over there if you prefer. We really do love getting all of those comments.

[00:50:30] So feel free to reach out to us. The WP Builds podcast was brought to you today by Cloudways. Cloudways provides the ultimate managed WordPress and WooCommerce hosting solutions. Easy setup allows you to get started in minutes, focus on your business and say goodbye to hassles. Get started with their three day free trial to enjoy unmatched performance, superb uptime and 24 7 active support.

[00:50:57] You can find out more at cloudways.com and we really do thank Cloudways for helping us to keep the WP Builds podcast.

[00:51:08] Speaking of going it's time for me to go now, we'll see you in a week or so every Thursday for the podcast, don't forget our live show. Every Monday, this week in WordPress, WP Builds.com forward slash live.

[00:51:20] Join us and join in the debates. But if we don't see you for any of that, hopefully next week back for the podcast, I'm going to fade in some cheesy jazz music this week and say bye bye for now!

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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