Friday 13th April 2018
I initially saw my friend posting on facebook asking for wordpress help, and reached out to him about his website regarding seo freelance work. He said i’d come at the right moment as he was almost ready to release the site. I toke this as an opportunity for experience.
Initially I write up a marketing plan, a series of questions to get a sense of his brand and scope of what he wanted to do, i did some research on his competitors and showed him some website examples of what he should be working towards.
Quite an ambitious goal: “I feel like my goal is to become the best provider of live sessions out of everyone out there”.
Monday 16th April 2018
After his marketing plan was filled out. I conducted a full seo analysis on his current website seo equity and drafted out an seo plan which explained to him everything which needed changing.
The client called me up and we spoke a bit about what’s going to happen, he remotely showed me his desktop using teamviewer to show me how to access his 1&1 hosting account and gave me log in access.
Considering he only just installed a wordpress theme recently, I suggested we change to a more suitable theme for his brand based off original competitor research.
I gathered a series of designs I felt were relevant to his brand and he went through which he disliked, what he wanted and didn’t want and we agreed on a new theme so I could bake SEO in from the ground up.
His main concerns were:
- Too much scrolling especially on mobile.
- Preferably linking the header to a youtube video of his. [he had a showreel ready additionally]
“I want people to be able to access what they want with a few button presses. within 5 seconds of being on the site they need to be able to get information they want, that’s why i’m using my current theme, the emnu system means i keep pages short so on mobile you’re not scrolling for eternity”.
I checked out his length of scrolling on his current theme viewed on mobile and got a good sense of how long he wanted his pages.
Tuesday 17th April 2018
I registered a gmail account and we created a shared folder to contain all files/documents, installed a google analytics plugin to wordpress, all relevant theme plugins and linked google search console.
As his site wasn’t live, there was no initial data for google analytics. His wordpress was checked to tell search engines not to index his site.
Setting up accounts had taken the better part of the day as there were numerous security problems of us both logging in simultaneously or lack of permissions from multiple devices.
I started by backing up all his written and media content, then moved the site over to the previously agreed theme. I made a note of all his previous pages, deleted them and removed all bloatware plugins [eg: image gallery, ones which I could code myself].
Wednsday 18th April 2018
Now the theme was set up, all demo content important, I began to reverse engineer how the theme worked, what widgets were assigned to which pages etc.
I began by analysing his old nav bar pages/competitor ones and created all the relevant pages his company will need based off his previous questions on best forms of revenue and services from the marketing plan.
Encountered some problems with the bespoke limited wordpress [from 1&1 hosting]. The theme didn’t allow you to add videos to the homepage banner unless you pay for the pro version [$67], and wordpress locks you out of the html/css files to code one in.
So I made a workaround for now. I cropped his showreel into 15 seconds and used a free gif converter to turn it into a 15 sec/20fps gif. I mentioned he would probably want to change this later.
– I installed Yoast SEO plugin which gives you a wealth of access for SEO purposes such as title/meta description access, tools to sync google search console and web appearance.
I updated the client at the end up the day the problems and solutions:
“Great stuff. Literally just had a quick look as i’ve just finished my computer based work for the day.
Looks great, liked everything. Noticed the video quality degradation, cheers for the explanation. I’ll have to get a pro theme at some point but this will be fine. The quality artefact is patterned so looks intentional thankfully.”
I began working on re-adding content back now the main sections were ready. Encountered issues relevant to the theme I was using where widgets were page specific to the homepage [most likely because it was a ‘one-page template’].
My client had specified before that he didn’t want a layout which scrolled forever, so I installed additional widget plugins to give me better access over which pages they could be displayed instead of having all of them on the homepage.
Thursday 19th April 2018
I came to the realisation that widgets can’t be shared onto multiple pages in this layout due to it being a ‘one page layout’. The homepage has ‘containers’ where specific widgets go and you’re only able to turn them on and off for the homepage.
I wanted to use some of the sections of the layout on different pages instead of having one long homepage (as per the client’s request) and eventually came up with the solution to call the widget classes directly onto each page via html.
WordPress has a series of sections for the homepage, let’s call them A,B,C,D and widgets can only go in those sections on the homepage, A-1, A-2, A-3. Using the UI, you can only place those widgets in their assigned sections. However, with a bit of programming know-how, I was able to call the classes responsible for each widget onto different pages directly. Beforehand I was trying to use plugins to no success.
I completed the layout of the homepage and learnt how to show/hide specific parts of the template.
Friday 20th April 2018
Tidied up the homepage, i’ve improved my efficiency at inspecting the widget’s html/css and how it works in wordpress. Homepage is essentially finished. Tested all buttons and size of the window on multiple devices to check the content still works responsively from the code i’ve written.
Started on the testimonials page and located alot of additional information about the clients from google in the form of social media pages.
Monday 23rd April 2018
Finished the testimonial page and realised the images used were not optimised properly. I renamed the file names to have more human readable urls and resized in photoshop to make the exact size of the image containers on the page (to increase speed load).
I then went on to begin optimising alot of the images uploaded, for alt tags/size and name.
Tuesday 24th April 2018
Worked on the event videography page and had alot of trouble fixing the header image. Due to the template having it’s own set of divs which were unchangeable, I had to float the header div over the top of everything else. I had to reach out to another web developer for help on this.
Eventually we got it working properly and I finished adding the content to the page.
Had a conversation with my client about the problems I faced and why it was taking longer than it should and he suggested:
“Generally can we keep similar things together please, I’d prefer all non music based videography to be housed in one page. I think the minimalist approach will yield a better user experience”.
Wednsday 25th April 2018
Further from my client’s suggestions yesterday, i’ve merged 8 pages into 3 pages. Before, the services were split into a separate page for each service, however my client wanted to make it as simple as possible.
So we combined it into all music related video production on one page and all non-music related video production another with photography on it’s own page.
Continued working on structure and adding content back onto the pages.
Thursday 26th April 2018
Still working on the website layout (i’m pretty articulate how I want it to be). The layout is essential to fix first as it allows me to display content in a seo-friendly manner and counts as an indirect ranking factor.
Decided to lose the header as it was breaking how it displayed on mobile, increasing page width, causing the nav drop down to disappear and generally prolonging development.
Optimised the layout of text/headers on all pages.
Added contact prompt to all pages currently built and amended css for the contact form on the contact page to match the design on the homepage.
Modified some of the URLs in wordpress to match the page titles, and make them more human readable (on page seo).
Added all content to ‘live sessions and music’ page except for media content.
Thursday 27th April 2018
Added a functional html image gallery to the photography page and begun adding contact prompts to all service-related pages.
Monday 30th April 2018
WordPress has an alarming bug which has never been fixed where if you upload an image file, delete it, edit the file (e.g. photoshop) and reupload it with the same filename, it’ll just restore the original file.
I had to change alot of the file names because of this and amended the url to be human-readable (seo-friendly).
I completed the image gallery I was recently trying to implement and adding a youtube video gallery to the live sessions page in html using iframes.
Tuesday 2nd May 2018
Fixed social media prompts on all pages and fixed layout of contact prompts. The client asked that contact prompts be at the top instead of the bottom of all pages, so I amended this.
Tided up parts of the layout, adding divider in-between text to make reading easier. Began the clients page, added most of the functionality.
Downloaded alot of the images uploaded by the client and renamed the files for better urls. Also edited some images for better page load speed as well as created my own logo images for the client page.
Wednsday 3rd May 2018
Utilised the Yoast SEO plugin to bulk edit all website titles and meta descriptions. Made sure the keywords are consistent across pages and analysed the term frequency-inverse document frequency.
The website is ultimately finished for now! The client wanted to make some final tweaks before going live so unfortunately I can’t see the results of my seo skills in practice until then. I will share this at a later date.
Looking back on the process, because it was my first freelance job I made alot of mistakes with the process. Setting up accounts incorrectly, doing too much web development…i’m a bit of a perfectionist but at times I focused too much on getting the layout “just right” before adding seo. I felt the foundation is pretty important before adding anything else on top, but I got waterlogged in alot of the development.
That being said, I was a one man band. In a larger company I would be able to turn to a web developer to change an aspect of the design to allow better optimisation for search engines and content distribution, but I only had myself to rely on!
It’s definitely been a learning experience and this work has given me alot more confidence, putting into practice what i’ve learnt!
Here’s a testimonial from Ashley from Rogue Levels:
“Steven Ford took charge of the design and optimisation of my website at the conclusive stage of the building process. He took time to understand my vision for the site and how I intended to optimise it for a better user experience.
Steven did a brilliant job of not only solving long standing design issues caused by a rather rigid website build platform, but also implementing my design ideas beyond my expectations. He delivered results in a fraction of the time it would have taken me to do it myself.
He was thorough yet concise, in his communication regarding the actions needed for the site to be optimised. I highly recommend working with Steven Ford, a passionate professional and all round good guy!
Ashley Chanakira (Director, Rogue Levels Media Ltd)”