How To Approach Website Redesigns
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In this episode, Blythe explains how to organize a website redesign project into phases based on priority, starting with an MVP launch before adding other features. Listeners are presented with tips for gathering the necessary “ingredients” ahead of time – such as detailed page outlines, text, images, bios, etc. – to make development smoother. Other audience takeaways include strategies for getting stakeholder buy-in early, while also limiting feedback rounds later to avoid getting derailed by too many opinions.




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Show Transcript

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Blythe Brumleve: 0:05

Welcome into another episode of Everything Is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in a fridge. We are proudly presented by SPI Logistics and I'm your host, Blythe Brumleve. In today's conversation I want to talk about how I approach a website redesign. Now, for folks who may not know, I founded a company called Digital Dispatch. We specialize in website management. Now that entails helping companies that probably already have a website redesign get a little facelift on that website and then get it to where it's at, a great place, where our team can take over. We can manage the updates. We can make unlimited text and image updates. We can make sure all your forms are properly delivering to the people that need to get them. We're also collecting data such as how did you hear about us, things like that, and supplying that information to the client. Also, for all of the websites that I own about half a dozen websites, I own a ton of domains, but operating-wise I think I have one, two. We have friendly brands. We have Digital Dispatch. We have my old site, guysgirl. com, which I will never get rid of. That's the Sports and Entertainment website. Fyi, in case the name kind of throws you off, we have that one. We have Everything Is Logistics. That's for operating right now to its full, most potential. But I have a couple more that's kind of in the staging area. I'm not ready to talk about those yet because there's just kind of new projects coming on. But, all that to say, I have about a half a dozen websites that I manage for personal use. Then I have close a little over 30 websites that are in the freight space also a construction brand in there as well that I manage to. We go through these conversations a lot about how to approach a website redesign. I thought this might be helpful for other folks out there who may be considering doing the same thing. If you're, a good rule of thumb is that if your website is more than two years old, it's probably time. If it's more than three years old, it's probably time for a facelift on the site. For a lot of folks out there, they might not even have a website. If you don't have a website yet, some of these things that I'm about to talk about can still be applicable for you and your company. So stay tuned. But this in particular I am going through this not only with clients, or going through this process with clients, but I'm going through this with my own brands as well. So a little bit of backstory is I launched digital dispatch about four or five years ago. I started up a podcast to promote the company and to also learn more about my ideal customers. Now that podcast was pretty popular pretty quickly and it led to an opportunity to host the show Cyberly on a freight ways for close to two years. And then, after Cyberly ran its course, I decided I think I could do the same type of Cyberly show but on my own. So let's rev it up again and let's switch the branding for digital dispatch the podcast into everything is logistics. So hence the whole brand name change just happened about a year ago and for everything is logistics. I had essentially, if you know what link tree is, I had essentially a link tree website for everything is logistics, very super simple website. It linked to you know content social media profile set up for email newsletter. Also some of my sponsors as well, so I can link directly to them from that very, very simple one page website. Well, now it's time to expand that website out, also because of the fact that digital dispatch it's a website and marketing company. So I talk about you know sort of that one person, marketing team and how you can efficiently get your brand and your messaging out there with either a one person team or a very, very small team. So really coming from like the founder driven approach or the founder marketing plan approach. But that is essentially outgrown these two brands to the point where they need to be separated. So the podcast is in its current form. It's moving over to an expanded everything is logistics website, whereas digital dispatch will focus. We'll still have a lot of the same content that you see on it right now, but it's just content wise podcast show, wise things like that. It's going to be hyper focused on website management and founder driven marketing in the freight space. So that gives everything as logistics brand a little bit more room to breathe so we can talk about some of these other fun stories that I really like covering, like source to porch, where your stuff comes from, the logistics of lipstick, the logistics of the NFL, you know, all of those fun topics that I love to cover. Those don't necessarily they don't not necessarily they don't fit into the digital dispatch branding. Hence the reason for separating them. So I thought it would be fun to kind of show you guys my process for doing this and how I also approached this process for client sites as well. So hopefully it will help you a little bit. You know behind the scenes style content, so let's get into it. How I approach a website redesign. Now the first thing you want to really keep in mind is that for a website redesign, you're going to have a lot of thoughts floating around in your head. It's going to be a lot. You're going to be hearing opinions from a lot of different people. If you have, you know, coworkers or anything like that maybe a leadership team has already kind of thrown the idea around that hey, they want to, you know, give the website a facelift or give it a revamp. So you're going to be hearing a lot of different ideas. You're going to be having these ideas yourself too. So what I like to do is essentially and I'm going to pull up a doc here, but I live and breathe by Google Docs so what I do is I create a brain dump document. This is an unorganized mess of a document where I just list out everything I'm thinking, and I mean everything I'm thinking. So here is I'm going to show on the screen this Google doc of just kind of what I want to think about this project and how we're going to tackle it in phases, and the thing to keep in mind is this you know I write this reminder to myself is because you want to get the quickest version launched first and you want to ask yourself what's the minimum that I can call this project done and then add on new features and pages as phase two and phase three part of this plan. So you can kind of see that I kind of listed out, you know, a lot of different ideas that I'm having in mind for the brand, separation of digital dispatch and everything is logistics. So I mean, this is, this is a lot of just sort of my internal notes of how I'm thinking about this process. So what I'd like to do is I like to just dump everything onto this document. What I also which is not you can't see it on this page right now but what I also like to do is I also like to start the muscle memory of if I see a site that I like, I'm going to take that link and I'm going to add it to that brain dump document and I'm going to list why I like that site. It could be a website that I really like, their blog format or I really like you know, the header format or how they took a short form video and used on their website layout. You know I've been going through this. I typically will look at creators that I admire specifically B2B creators that I admire and going to their sites and seeing how they do things. How do they show their podcast? How do they ask, showcase their sponsors In a competitor space? You're going to be doing the same thing with your brand. You're going to be looking at your different competitors and how do they list out their services page. What kind of services are they listing? What kind of images are they using? Do they look like they're stock photos or do they look like they're real photos? You should always be using real photos. But anyways, you're going to be documenting and starting that muscle memory of any time you see a site or a graphic or something that you like about that company and that digital presence of that company. Then you're going to take that URL, you're going to copy it and you're going to add it to that brain dump document. And so this is you want to keep the reasoning also as to why you like it. It's easy just to copy and paste a URL into a document. But when you are going to be going through this process, it's not going to be a quick process. It's probably going to be anywhere from three to six months. I wish it was quicker I do, but that's just not realistic for the overwhelming majority of companies out there. We tend to think through this a lot and that's why, on that other document that I just showed you and I'll show it to you again, the brain dump document is just a place that you're going to put everything, and then what happens next is you're going to start filtering through this document and saying, okay, this one can be phase one, but this one can probably be, or that's a bad example of choosing that one. So this one is probably another bad example, because this should be phase one as well. But you really want to challenge yourself into coming up with different. Which one of these ideas is good enough? That, or it's still good, but you want to keep it in different phases. I'll tell you an example of a calculator tool. We just relaunched a content-focused website that's in the freight space, but a big portion of the project was migrating all of their content that they've created to a new site. They wanted a calculator feature as well, and so what we talked to them into is let's get this big part of the project done first as a phase one, and then that phase two we can really hone in and focus on that calculator portion where we're creating a specific application, a specific program in order to add into someone's website. So thinking about your website project in phases will help you to not only get this project done quickly, but it'll help you sort of compartmentalize different parts of the site where you're getting the most important pieces done first and in front of everybody, and then you can slowly start building on that from there. So that's how I like to sort of attack the project at first is taking all of those brained up ideas and then putting them into a big, large document, and then from that document you can really start to make these things and turn them into actionable items that you can either hire someone to do you can do them yourself or probably a combination of the two. So next up is the actual sort of page. Dissection is how I kind of like to phrase it, because what you want to do next is now that you have a pretty good plan of how you want to tackle this. Maybe you just want to migrate your entire site first, and that is an overwhelming majority of people that that's exactly what they want to do. That's sort of what gets the wheels in motion is that they want a fresh look to their site. And so from that position, you really want to look at what parts of your site do you still have that you like? Maybe you have certain graphics, certain images. Maybe you got icons custom designed, you know. Maybe you have certain texts that really you know packs a punch. You want to go through and you want to see which parts of those pages and those sites of your current site that you actually really still like and that it's still applicable for your brand, and you're going to keep that in one part of your document. And so these are the things I like about our site. These are the things that I don't like about our site. I want to keep X, y and Z, but I want to get rid of this because we're no longer doing this service or this is no longer applicable. We're no longer part of this association. So it's almost like going through your closet once a year where you're picking things that you still want to keep, that you still think you're going to be able to wear, but then also you're getting rid of things that no longer fit or you probably are at a style at a date, things like that. Think about it as like almost like pruning your closet so that the only the best parts that you're actually going to utilize that you think are valuable to your customers that you can use in the future. So the next part is really starting up a separate document. So we're going to use a couple of different documents here, especially when it comes to Google Docs. I'm going to show you this one right now and this is the actual one that I'm using, for everything is logistics. So I put in all of my brain dump document, especially about digital dispatch and everything is logistics and how we're going to separate those two brands and those two companies and what that looks like. The next phase is tackling the biggest item, phase one of it and that is the new website. And so, with the new website, let me show it to you right now. This is the site that I am using, or not site, but this is the document that I am using, that my team is using. So I've gone through and I've written out everything that I want to happen, and I've gone page by page, and so what you want to do is you want to have broken down by pages, but also different sections within those pages, so you want to think about overall. So an overview is what I have it labeled as in this document. It should actually be overall. So overall, I'm just going to change that for lack of confusion or to prevent confusion. So overall is something like all of the fonts that you're going to be using throughout your site. Maybe you're getting a new logo, maybe you're getting a new color scheme. Those are things that are going to be applicable throughout your entire website. So that's why I have its own little section called overview section. Things to keep in mind. I also put little notes in here for my dev team. I also will put notes for design, and I use different highlighters within Google Docs in order to differentiate between the two. Now, what you're seeing right now on the screen is a lot of things highlighted in green. Green means that those notes for that page are done. So that's how I use it to sort of signify to the team that, hey, you can get started on some of this overview, started building the skeleton of the new site. We typically will build all of our sites on what's called a staging website. So the current website is living as it is, but we are working on a staging version, a testing version of the site in the background so that when everything is ready to go, we can sort of just flip the switch and then the new site is there and replaces what you see currently as the old site, which is sort of the link tree website. So we start off with an overview section. That's sort of your overall site defaults and things like that. Then we move into what pages you're actually going to have on your site and so, going through, we're going to have, you know, think about your menu navigation and that's what it's called menu nav. So I call it menu nav. What's going to be at the top of that menu? What are the most important pages that your audience, that your customers, that your leads they're going to want to see here? And for us it's home. For this particular brand it's episodes. For your brand it might be services, so it's home episodes. Partners work with us and about us. A lot of pages, especially when it comes to freight. Your basic pages are going to be your homepage, your contact us, you're about us, and then you're probably going to have a combination of your services slash products. So that's four pages right there and then if you want to list anything additional, it's just really subject to you and your business. Now for us, instead of a services page, we're going to have episodes, because anybody who comes to a podcast page you're going to just want to see the episodes. You're not going to want to see services. Services is more for the digital dispatch brand, not this content brand. So just so, everybody is kind of on the same page Now, after the menu nav. So we're just listing out these pages right now. So then I want to get into the footer nav. So the footer is the bottom of the site. What do I want there? Are there any footers online? Typically, when you think about a footer, you want to think about your quickest hits, who is searching for the site, who is searching for what on the site? And if they arrive at the footer, how can I get them there as quickly as possible? Because the last thing you want to happen is someone to get to your site and become overwhelmed or become frustrated. They can't find what they're looking for. So you want to put yourself in the mind of your visitor that's coming to the site. They didn't see what they wanted at the navigation. They scrolled through the page and they didn't see something that caught their eye, then you're pretty much your last chance to catch their attention is the footer of your site. So what I like to put here is the highest impact pages. Maybe they want to book a meeting, maybe they want to check out services, maybe they want to check out latest episodes, in this case, but also social media icons. You want to also put ways to contact you, information about your team. Make sure that it's all very easily accessible in a footer, whether it's a large footer or a very small footer. We kind of approach both of them and they're both utilized in the same way. But make sure nine times out of 10, if someone is scrolling to your footer, they're probably looking for your social media icons or a specific page that they remember from your site in order to do business with you. So, with those quick hitters, those high impact pages right in the footer, just to make sure that, as that person is scrolling through and maybe they found what they're looking for, maybe they didn't, but the footer is the last chance to kind of get them. We've also experimented with having email sign up, email newsletters in the footer as well. So keep that in mind, that the footer nav is kind of like your last place to really get them before that exit intent sort of starts to happen there. Are you in freight sales with a book of business looking for a new home, or perhaps you're a freight agent in need of a better partnership? These are the kinds of conversations we're exploring in our podcast interview series called the freight agent trenches, sponsored by SPI logistics. Now I can tell you all day that SPI is one of the most successful logistics firms in North America who helps their agents with back office operations such as admin, finance, it and sales. But I would much rather you hear it directly from SPI's freight agents themselves. What better way to do that than by listening to the experienced freight agents tell their stories behind the how and the why they joined SPI? Hit the freight agent link in our show notes to listen to these conversations or, if you're ready to make the jump, visit SPI3PL. com. Are you a broker, ready to level up your business? Well, I've got a game changer of a solution for you because, let's face it, your TMS choice can make or break your company, and that's where having the right ally becomes key to success. Meet Tai Software, an all in one platform with user friendly automation that makes your day to day operations smoother and smarter, whether you're running a big brokerage or a startup. Tie's got your back through every phase of your domestic freight Gear up, because your logistics journey is about to get a serious upgrade. Hit it now by heading over to tie-software. com for a demo. Now I'm going to come back to this document here in a minute and if you're just listening, you're not really missing much. It's just a text document. You can go check out this video on YouTube, where it will have a lot of these visuals there, but if you're just listening, really, just trust me, it's just a Google doc with text on it that has some green highlights, so you're not missing much. Now the next thing I now, the next way I like to approach this is I start to think about the new text I want to have on the site. So I'm starting to gather different text to include on what this new site is going to look like. Now, this new text I have it listed out fun stats of achievements. So you want to start gathering these, not necessarily like a pretty format, like you're just gathering the information in order to put it into a pretty format eventually. So you want to think about some fun stats or achievements. How many loads did you move this year? Did you add any new lanes? Did you add a ton of new customers? Did you add some new specialties or certifications? Just fun stats. How many years have you been in business? It's a popular one that is kind of made fun of, but it also kind of proves how long your company may or may not has been around. It's like combined years of experience. That kind of highlights, with the purpose of that is to kind of highlight maybe the years of experience in the industry that your executive team has. So I see that one a lot. I'm guilty of using it on a couple different sites. They're just fun stats. So they're fun stats depending on your site you want to work to think about. Maybe ask your sales team, ask your executive leadership team and ask them a lot, ask them repeatedly for some of these fun stats that you can use that you're just starting to gather up. So that's one to think about. Also, think about bios, bios, now, bios if you don't have them. You want to make sure that when you do collect them or when you make a request to the leadership team for a bio, send them examples of good bios that you're looking for, send them a word count and don't let them go over the word count. If someone has sent you a word count for your bio, please abide by it. The reason that they're asking for a word count limit is because you're only dealing with so much space on the site. Now you can get creative, because I have seen some bios come in that are a thousand words long and no one is going to read it. You want to make it short, you want to make it to the point and you want to showcase your experience and your expertise. No one is going to read a thousand word bio about you. It's just not going to happen. So save yourself the time and effort and probably the stress of writing that bio out, thinking you have to document your entire life. Think about the person who was visiting that page. They only care about the experience that you have that is actually applicable to the service and the problem that they're looking to solve. So make your bio centered around that. I help in these XYZ positions because I've had XYZ experience. Yada, yada, yada, favorite sports team little things like that can add a little bit of a personality to it. But, frankly, most people just don't care about your favorite sports team or your favorite dessert or what you like to do on the weekends. It's how can you help them? Overwhelming majority of website users or website visitors are selfish. They want to see how you can help them and how you can serve them, so give them the information that they're looking for without having them read a novel. Okay, now we have those parameters set in place. If you're trying to collect those bios, you really want to be proactive in getting those bios and getting those requests for the bios as quickly as possible, because it takes people a long time to write about themselves and you want to give them a general framework in order to think about how to write about themselves. It's very challenging. So if you come up with those parameters, you come up with those guidelines, it tends to help people a lot more. Another way that you can accomplish this is just to ask somebody to. You could probably record the conversation too. Now that I'm thinking about it, if I were an executive assistant or if I were a marketer and I was looking to get a bunch of bios for my executive team and I've asked them an email and they're not giving them to me, or it's probably going to be a nightmare to get them block a meeting with them for 10 minutes. Bring your app, bring your phone and open up the voice recording app, ask them a few questions about their history, about their experience, and then you have that information already and then you can rephrase that into any kind of format that you like that is suitable for the website. Okay, so once you have gathered up all of the bios that you're gonna need for your site, you're probably gonna have to coordinate some kind of headshots, some kind of team photos. I would suggest asking for a headshot from the person that doesn't necessarily have to be taken professionally inside the office. Now, the reason I say this is because you're probably going to be put in a position where a photographer might be hired. They're gonna come into the office and they're gonna shoot everybody for their headshot, and they're gonna do so in a one day kind of event. Now the problem is is that if you hire somebody new or in the future, they're going to need another headshot to kind of match everyone else. Now, if you kind of keep it as a similar style, what I would suggest is just to ask people to send you in a headshot that is suitable enough for the website, meaning it's just their face that is framed. If they have a professional headshot already, that's even better. You don't necessarily want somebody like standing by a grill or just weird selfies that have too many filters or anything like that. You don't want none of that. You want a little bit of consistency as far as the realness of the photos and how they look. I know this is a case by case basis, but you wanna think about those images as well and how you're going to not only get those images, but also how you're going to maintain those images, because people are gonna come and go. You might need to have to shoot somebody else. I did this myself, where we had a photographer come into the office and shot everybody's headshot, and then we had a bunch of new hires come in and we had to do headshots for them too. It's a giant amount of money and amount of time that was invested in just these headshots and it would have been much simpler, much easier and, frankly, it looks better on a website if everybody kind of has their favorite photo of themselves used as the headshot. It's the easiest way to do it, it makes yourself seem personable, it makes yourself and your company seem a little less robotic, and then it's also it's easier from it's better and streamlined for a maintenance perspective, that you don't have to arrange for a photographer to come into the office every single time you got a new hire. So start to collect those photos. A good rule of thumb is that if the photo is good enough for the LinkedIn profile, it's probably good enough for the website, and there's even like a bonus interchange or action there where somebody can see oh okay, the same photo is being used on their website as their LinkedIn profile. That's definitely the same person. I can trust this company a little bit more because those two are linked. So that's a tip for BIOS. So you wanna make sure that you have a company BIOS, and then you also wanna make sure that you are collecting BIOS for any team members that are going to be featured on the site. The next sort of text to gather is your social links, any social media profiles that you are actively publishing to. You wanna make sure that you get all of those different links so you can have those and you can easily add them to the site. Also, business overview of services that you are providing. You wanna start to gather some of that text different departments, what's their, what is sort of the overall general I guess synopsis of the services that they offer. You can probably get that from different managers of different departments. So you wanna make sure that you get those services that you're gonna be offering out, or services that your business provides. You wanna get a general understanding and a general idea. You also wanna stick around the same word count, because that word count is really going to play a role and the end result of the website itself, because you don't want one service being five paragraphs long and then you have another service that's one paragraph long. That's going to look ugly on the site and it's going to look like you spend a lot more time in one area than the other. If that's the case, then you can rearrange that from a hierarchy level on the page itself. But that's a conversation that's more of like a 102 or a 103 as far as web design is concerned. And then the last text that you wanna think about gathering is quotes from your ideal customers and the problems that you solve for them. You can do this by asking a lot of your sales managers and your sales leads. What are some compliments that our customers have given us? Are they willing to say this in a contextual format? Are they willing to write a review for you? You wanna start gathering those up as well. Bonus points if they give a video interview. Now my buddy, trey Griggs, podcast host. He works within the freight industry. He actually specializes in this, so go check out his company, beta Consulting Group. He didn't pay me to say this, but I'm answering it anyways because testimonials and the value of testimonials is very important. Now what he does is he has a video kit and he will contact your customers for you, send them that kit so that they can record this video, and then they send all of that stuff back to him. He edits up the video, he makes it presentable in a web format and then he would do something like hand that off to me and my team would take that content and we would add it to the site. Videos go a long way. Much more impactful to have your customers on video talking about how much they love you and your business ahead of time. So then that way you can get those conversations started and you can have that process. Because if you think it's a nightmare trying to get company bios from executives, just wait to or try to request a review from a customer, it's kind of a pain in the ass to do it, but you wanna make it as easy on them as possible. Because if you make it as easy on them as possible then it's much easier for you to share that information on your future site that you're working on building. So having all of these kind of like I guess rods in the fire, then it will help it sort of come to fruition a lot sooner, because the last thing you wanna do is like get to close to launch time and then you have a random executive that's checking out the site for the first time, that's never been involved in any of the process, coming in and saying why don't we have testimonials on the site? And then you're gonna delay your launch and then it's gonna be two months and you might not ever get the damn thing launched. So having a lot of these different rods in the fire, collecting this information ahead of time, will help you parse the site into different phases, so that you're tackling the most important things first, and that's that, what's the website, what are these pages going to be, and then what is the content that's going to be on these pages. So when you're collecting all of this information, it makes it much easier for a company like mine, or for the in-house marketer or for the you know the outsource marketing agency, for them to take it and run with it. So you're making everybody's job easier if you start to collect this information ahead of time and so that the executives are looped in onto what you're thinking about. As far as this process is concerned, they don't technically want to worry about that. I mean, some of them do, some of them will eventually, but they don't really want to. They got enough things to worry about. They don't want to worry about. You know what logo is on what page and why. You want to involve them in this process, initially so that you can get all of their concerns and all of their notes out of the way, and then, once the site is visualized, that's when you're going to be prepared for, almost like the feedback process, where a lot of people are going to have a lot of opinions and you're going to justify them in certain ways based on the goal that you're trying to achieve for that particular page. But at least you involve them initially so that they can share anything that they're thinking about. But just know that once the the site is visualized, that's typically when a lot of ideas, a lot of unnecessary ideas sometimes unnecessary come into play and then you can be the one that's in a strategic power of position where you can say okay, I hear you. I know that that sounds like a great idea. Let's focus on this phase one and then, for phase two of the site, let's dive into that a little bit more, but try to keep them. This helps everybody to try to keep them a little bit focused as to what is the most important piece, and that is getting a new site out that is functional, it's customer first and getting it out as quickly as possible. Because you will enter a phase where everybody is going to have an opinion and some people might have felt like they should have been in more of the loop than they were, and you're going to have to have sometimes you're going to have to have those hard conversations where you're going to say, hey, I hear you, but that's more of a phase two or phase three thing that we're going to solve and we're going to solve it. But let's focus on this phase one so we can get this site and we can get the product shipped as soon as possible, because you never know how much your website could be impacting your sales and possible sales in the future. So making sure you get that first phase out is incredibly important, and involving folks during the text collection process will go a long way. Now, quick drink. Now the next thing you want to think about is your images for the site. Now you can go the route of hiring a photographer to come out and shoot your office. You can hire them to shoot your equipment, shoot your workspace kind of your team in action. You know nothing really like super posed. I highly highly advise that. It's the best money that you will spend. It's less than $1,000. A lot of photographers now also have drones so they can come out and they can shoot some drone footage. I've seen some really cool footage of you know trucks going up and down the road and the drone is following them and that's all included in a typical photographer in their session day. So you can get all of that nine times out of ten. I wouldn't say nine times out of ten because there's really no way to prove that, but a lot of the budgets that I commonly see are anywhere from $200 to under $1,000. Sometimes more. It just depends on what you're asking and the editing turnaround time. All of those play a factor. But custom images are the way to go and when you're thinking about gathering of these images, you can look at your current site and you can say, ok, well, I really like these photos, I really want to find a way to use these on the new site. Then you can go and you can either hire a photographer to get new photos taken, which the other photos might not thematically match with the new photos. So that's another option that you want to be thinking about. But then, as the third option, you want to think about stock photos and how that's going to play a role. You want to make sure overall, with these images, that A their custom B, that and I don't even say you don't even have to have a photographer come out If you have somebody that maybe a you know, a Gen Z, millennial type, that's social media savvy already within the office. A lot of iPhone photos are perfectly suitable for for putting up on your website. We just had a website project start the other day where the person went into the office and he shot the photos on his iPhone. He used the grid sort of square format on on the phone in order to be able to take even photos. There's blog articles out there that you can do a quick search for to how to take great iPhone website photos. So just keep that in mind that there are some low budget ways that you can get around some of these things. But I highly advise getting a photographer so once you have that thematic look of your site that all the photos are kind of in the same style and in the same look and feel, because these photos are going to be the one of the first things that people see when they arrive on your site. So the header section is typically that first part of the website that you see. There's usually some text overlay to it. There's a photo off to the right hand side of things. That's called your header section. It's essentially the most important part of your site. It's because it's the first thing that people see when they arrive on your homepage. So you want to think about what those images are large. They have to be large. So you there have to be really great file size, really great quality. So that's what a photographer is going to solve for you is for a lot of those photos that they look great whether they're blown up big on a giant computer TV screen in a meeting room or you're viewing that on a mobile device. So it will have the same quality. But you only get that really done if you have a professional photographer. And then where you can supplement is iPhone photos and stock photos that kind of match thematically to the photos that you already have. So start gathering up those images. You're going to want the header images of what you're thinking about, those high impact images for your main pages and your main navigation, and then you're going to want to think about the supplemental photos that are going to be throughout the rest of the website, and maybe they're not photos, maybe they're just like a background texture. Look, maybe it's a bunch of containers, maybe it's. Oh, for God's sakes, though, but do not use some of those images that have been around for 10 plus years, and I was like a plane flying over a port and a guy holding an iPad, and there's a bunch of different. You know signs or I don't use those photos that are on so many different websites. I promise you they will do more harm than good, because it kind of proves that you're not willing to invest in custom photography and you're not willing to look for photos that are different from a lot of websites that have been around for a decade. So if you're going to cut corners there, it kind of, in my opinion, it sends a signal that you're going to cut corners and other aspects of your business. So I think it's a big no. No, do not use a lot of these photos that just have been around for a long time and you've seen them on a lot of different sites. You definitely want to invest in either custom photography, iphone photos and then supplementing where you see fit with different free stock photos or paid stock photos, and there are a lot of. You know Adobe is a great resource as well for stock photos that not a lot of companies are using because you have to pay, you know, a license fee of like 100 bucks a year or something in order to have access to it, or some of these photos are a few 100 bucks, depending on the quality, depending on the market. You just have to really play it case by case. We've talked about the pages, the overall pages that you're going to want to create the text together. Then you're going to create a folder for all of those images. You also want to think about logos, not just the company logo, but logos for customers that hopefully have permission to use them on your site. You want to start with the associations that you're a part of, charitable organizations that you're a part of, and you want to start another Google Drive folder. So start up a Google Drive folder. You can put those other two documents your brain dump document and then your actual website breakdown, page by page. You can think about it from that lens and also you can separate all of these images out. Where you have a folder just for team photos, you have a folder for, maybe, testimonial screenshots, reviews on Google, things like that. Then you can also have the folder for the logos of associations and then also your header images. So, keeping that in mind, you can kind of categorize those in a different Google folder folder. Okay, and then next you want to think about the features that you want to ask your dev team or your marketing team about. So these kind of features could be a calculator In my case, for everything is logistics. It's going to be related posts. There's actually a lot of intelligence that goes into recommending what posts you should read or shows you should listen to or watch afterwards. I'm not going to put a ton of resources in this, because I think that a lot of folks are watching my content on different social media channels. Youtube is a great example. I categorize them in social media as well, even though it's kind of different from all the other social media channels. But YouTube's algorithm is going to be infinitely more better than any kind of algorithm I tried to add to my site, so I'm not going to think too much about it. There's probably a lot of plugins that could take care of this for me, but features like that additional things that you want to add to your site. We also have an automation that anytime we upload a new podcast, that it creates a blog post on the website. I'm still experimenting with that, but I think it's still an important feature to keep on the site for now. So those are different features that we want to have on the site. I doubt that's applicable to 90% of freight companies that might be watching this video, but for your company in particular, I would say a lot of features are unnecessary. I'm trying to think of like a use case where it makes a ton of sense. The only feature that I would say in my experience makes a ton of sense is some kind of a pre-qualifying application. I've talked about this on another video, but we have a pre-qualifying driver app on one of my client sites where they were having a problem where they were getting so many driver applicants because they're a really good trucking company. They have incredible reviews, but what happens is that they're getting so many drivers that are tired of getting treated like crap at their other companies so they want to come work for a good company, but their HR team and their hiring team is just being bombarded with too many applications and a lot of those applications are from drivers that just simply don't qualify. So what we've done is we created they have their 10th Street account where an overwhelming majority of driver applications run through that third-party tool. But what they don't get the pleasure of knowing or I would say not the pleasure or the benefit of knowing is who's arriving to their site and who is coming to the site and then not filling out an application, who is arriving to the site and they're seeing the application, but then they maybe forget or they X off and then they never come back. So we built a mini application that was pre-qualifying. So it solves all these problems and basically it collects the driver's name, the position they're looking at applying for, how the company heard or how they heard about the company. And then they also asked two pre-qualifiers have you had a felony in the last year? Have you had a preventable accident in the last year? If they pass both of those pre-qualifying questions, then they're shown the actual driver application of where they can submit their application. If they don't pass those pre-qualifiers, then they're sent off to another part of the recruiting team and that recruiting team member can call them, can talk to them, can kind of dig a little deeper into those two issues and maybe they can offer them the chance to apply or maybe they can tell them how to work on things so that they can apply in the future after they've fixed a couple different issues that would make them unqualified to be hired. So that is a feature that we've added to a couple different sites that really helps their HR team filter through a lot of those different applications and also give them market intelligence as to where those drivers are hearing about them, and so they don't lose a lot of that first party data to a third party tool. They're collecting all of that data as well and then only showing the third party application after the driver has submitted their information. So that's just a bonus feature to keep in mind as you're planning out your website. That was a phase two addition. It was not a phase one addition. Phase one was getting the website up and running as quickly as possible, but phase two was adding that driver application feature, and it's been a home run for them ever since we've had it. The amount of data that they've been able to collect on how people are hearing about their company is just incredible. They're getting responses like I saw your truck driving down the road. I talked to this driver at this rest stop and a lot of that different market intelligence wouldn't come from any other tool that they're using. It comes from their driver applications that they're filling out, that pre-qualifying form, okay. So thinking about those features, that's another thing that you want to kind of bucket into whether it's going to be a phase one, two or three part of your project. By the way, if you were to work with me, we would provide all of this help for you. We kind of hold your hand through a lot of this process to help you answer those tough questions as quickly as possible. So if you're interested shameless plug for a digital dispatch go over to digitaldispatchio and you can kind of check out some of the services that we offer website management, also giving a website facelifts, especially for website redesigns. We've been building websites online since 2007. So we've seen a lot of the changes that have occurred in the industry and the digital ecosystem and what has lasting staying power and then what's kind of a fad, so we can help you navigate through a lot of those waters. So, after you have gathered up all of that information, you've kind of given yourself a brand audit, you've started up a brain dump document, you have an idea of the different sites that you like and why you started gathering up your images and you're kind of ready to start building this thing out. So you want to start building this thing out by going and checking out different website templates. I use a company called Envato. We have professional licenses with a lot of different website builders, so Divi, elementor, wp, bakery. We have premium licenses with all of these different sort of low code or no code website builders that really help streamline the process, not just for our team but for your team as well, if you were to want to go in and make a quick edit to a site, if you wanted to clone a landing page and upload it. It's basically HubSpot without the HubSpot price. Hubspot is, frankly, too expensive. I use HubSpot as a CRM but I do not use them for anything else because, frankly, that is just a lot of money to be spending on a platform where, if you ever wanted to leave HubSpot or you couldn't justify the price, it's very expensive and you lose a lot of that first party data anytime you make a move like that. So I build on WordPress. That's why I like building on WordPress. I can kind of take it and go, I can make upgrades, but I know that I still have that strong foundation that I can kind of move things from point A to B. So after you have all of that information sort of gathered, I'm going to share my screen again and take it back to again this page where we talked about the menu navigation. We talked about the footer nav. Now I'm starting to. So if we go back up you can kind of see the homepage, the episodes, the partners work with us and about us. You can see those pages. There are all green to go. So what I will do is I'll start with a landing page from a template that I already like. Lucky for us, we already have a lot of this sort of hashed out and designed out with our Dev Design team, and so I'm starting off with an example landing page that we've already kind of built out. These are coming soon, or maybe by the time you're watching this that these are already loaded so you can go and see a bunch of things that have launched on the Everything Is Logistics website and that we're building out. But I start section by section and I go through it and I'm very specific about what I want, what I want it to say. Using that website template, I'll write out, replace this text and put this text instead, and I will do this page by page and a lot of these things are very specific to a content focus website but are very applicable to any other project that you might be working towards or might be working on. Then we go into some of our partner pages, some of the sub pages that will be underneath that, and so I make it just as easy to understand as possible, because if we're going off of a template that we already really love, then that's a really great starting place for the Dev and the design team to be able to take all of that information that I gathered and all of the information that you may have gathered, and then they can take it and it's plug and play. So we do this for every page and we use a lot of the information that already exists on our current website and then we combine it with what we want the website to look like in the future, and just going page by page in order to make that a reality. And so what happens after that is I went through and I highlighted green. You kind of saw it on each of those pages that this is ready to go. I'm sending it off to my Dev team and my Dev team can hit the ground running because they have everything that they need. It's all organized in Google Drive folders, images, text and then I have it laid out where I go, page by page, and what I'm thinking as far as the main call to action for that page. So it is a lot of legwork, but once, if you do the work initially on gathering up this information, then it makes it so much more simpler for everybody down chain in order to make your ideas come to fruition. Now, how we handle that after the fact is, the Dev team is going to come back and they're going to show us an initial preview of the site. And then, after that initial preview of the site, then what's going to happen is you're going to have a lot of ideas. You're probably going to want to change a bunch of things. Maybe you're one of these lucky unicorns who I love working with that don't want to change anything, or maybe they just want sort of minor tweaks going throughout the site. You don't really know until you see it all kind of laid out. And this is also the time period of where you personally you should go through like a I don't want to say like a fine tooth comb, but you want to get rid of anything or you want to fix anything that's glaring that you think either you or the execs or other people within the company are not going to like. So you communicate that to your Dev design. Maybe you're marketing agency that you're working with and then, after that is when you want to set up a first round preview with the rest of the company, and you want to do this in two rounds You're going to tell you give them parameters, because if not, they're going to come back with all kinds of ideas and changes and it could very well turn into a circus that you're trying to keep everything together. Instead, give them a constrain them into two different feedback rounds where you're going to give me your ideas, you're going to tell me what is absolutely necessary for phase one, and we're going to tackle phase two and phase three ideas after we get this phase one done. We're going to do all of these changes that you have in mind and then we're going to send it out electronically to everybody else in order to gather that final round of feedback. Then, after that final round of feedback, you should be theoretically ready to go live. Now the danger in this section, in this part of the project, is that you're going to get too many ideas, that the fear of perfection is really going to creep in for a lot of these different executives, where they're going to not just executives but also yourself as well. So that's really where you want to keep it in mind of that initial phrase of what I said earlier Get the quickest version launched first and ask yourself what's the minimum I can call this project done and then you can add on those new features as phase two and as phase three. Having those constraints ahead of time and having a general framework of what you're going to work off and why will really help to channel and funnel those ideas into their appropriate place. Whether you're working as a soloist or you're working with a marketing agency or you're working with a bunch of executives that don't really know how a lot of this works. But hopefully, if you're an executive listening to this, then this helps explain the process a little bit more and how you can contain, funnel your ideas into different steps of the project so that you can get the project launched quickly and effectively and you're still accomplishing all of the same goals, which is, you're getting the most pertinent information out to your customers as soon as possible in a way that's easily understandable and digestible for them, so that they can hopefully become a customer, and you can keep revamping and adding on to your site and services as you see fit. So I know this was a little bit of a long one, but thank you for tuning in. Thank you for listening to my rambling and how I approach these website redesigns. Hopefully you found some value in it. If you have any questions about any of this process, please drop them down in the comments. Shoot me a DM on social media and I will do my best to get it answered on a future show or in a social media post. However, it really depends on the question that's being asked, but I will do my best to get it answered for you. So, in the meantime, I hope this was helpful and stay subscribed and do all of the cool things and all of the fun things that help me make content like this more often. So thanks again, guys. I hope you enjoyed this episode of Everything Is Logistics, a podcast for the thinkers in freight, telling the stories behind how your favorite stuff and people get from point A to B. Subscribe to the show, sign up for our newsletter and follow our socials over at EverythingIsLogisticscom. And in addition to the podcast, I also wanted to let y'all know about another company I operate and that's Digital Dispatch, where we help you build a better website. Now, a lot of the times, we hand this task of building a new website or refreshing a current one off to a co-worker's child, a neighbor down the street or a stranger around the world where you probably spend more time explaining the freight industry than it takes to actually build the dang website. Well, that doesn't happen. At Digital Dispatch. We've been building online since 2009, but we're also early adopters of AI, automation and other website tactics that help your company to be a central place to pull in all of your social media posts, recruit new employees and give potential customers a glimpse into how you operate your business. Our new website builds start as low as $1,500, along with ongoing website management, maintenance and updates starting at $90 a month, plus some bonus, freight marketing and sales content similar to what you hear on the podcast. You can watch a quick explainer video over on DigitalDispatchio. Just check out the pricing page once you arrive and you can see how we can build your digital ecosystem on a strong foundation. Until then, I hope you enjoyed this episode. I'll see you all real soon and go Jags.

About the Author

Blythe Brumleve
Blythe Brumleve
Creative entrepreneur in freight. Founder of Digital Dispatch and host of Everything is Logistics. Co-Founder at Jax Podcasters Unite. Board member of Transportation Marketing and Sales Association. Freightwaves on-air personality. Annoying Jaguars fan. test

To read more about Blythe, check out her full bio here.