Whip Your Website Into Submission

Has your website or blog grown out of control?

If you’ve been adding new pages, images, and content over time, before you know it, your site has turned into one hot mess.

The Art Biz Coach home page has become too busy and needs a major makeover

The Art Biz Coach home page has become too busy and needs a major makeover.

I need to get ArtBizCoach.com back into racing shape, and I imagine your site could also use a tune-up. This is important!

Our websites are often the first place that people experience our work. We don’t want to be apologizing for them! And we want to make sure that people have a meaningful experience when they drop in.

Below is my timeline for whipping Art Biz Coach back into shape, with suggestions for doing it for your site.

Inventory Content

By October 31 Conduct a detailed inventory of everything that is on the ArtBizCoach.com server, including:

  • Primary links
  • Sublinks
  • Hidden download pages
  • Password-protected pages

You will have, at the minimum, primary links (your main menu) and sublinks (content pages and art pages). Also note any old pages that aren’t linked to anything, which can be deleted in the next steps.

Outline Site Framework

By November 15 Decide what will be on the new Art Biz Coach site in each of these main categories:

  • Products: Books, Audio
  • Services: Coaching, Seminars
  • Info: About, Media Room
  • Outgoing links: Partners

For you, main categories might be: Art, Reproductions, Classes, Info.

Tip: Don’t use too many main categories! Visitors will be confused if there are too many options in a menu, and a confused visitor never sticks around.

Write the individual content areas on Post-It notes and move them around on your wall in logical order. You might even include the graphic images (your art!) you will add to each page, which will make the process very visual.

Prepare Site

By November 30 Install new WordPress theme and begin rebuilding ArtBizCoach.com with help from Pat, my Web guru.

I resisted using WordPress for my last Art Biz Coach update – opting for straight HTML instead – but it’s time to make the switch to a WordPress site.

What kind of structure do you need to add or change in order to rebuild and refresh your site?

Launch

By January 2, 2013 Launch the new ArtBizCoach.com site.Website Makeover audio program

What work do you have to do in order to whip your website back into submission? Leave a comment and hold yourself accountable.

If you’d like some tips on changes that will make your site more effective, check out my Website Makeover audio program and transcript with Web guru Patricia Velte.

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17 comments to Whip Your Website Into Submission

  • Good ideas. What do you use to make your little topical logos, like “Website Makeover,” Alyson?

    I’d also appreciate hearing your thoughts sometime on why you prefer WordPress to some professional (but not overly expensive) site like PhotoBiz.

    • Arthur: My designer does all of my image badges (I think what you’re calling topical logos) for my products.

      WordPress is a Gold Standard. It’s so loved that everyone makes plugins and features for using it – so it’s more adaptable. I use it for all of my classes, this blog, and other sites. I would never use a template site for any of my sites and PhotoBiz looks like it’s made primarily for portfolios – something I don’t need.

      Some might argue that WordPress is a template tool. And it sort of is. But not exactly – I maintain control of it rather than the template site telling me what I can and can’t do with it. It’s WAY cheaper than a template site, too.

  • This is a great topic! I need to go through my portfolio site and make sure that each piece there adds something to the entire message. It’s been a few years since I’ve culled my portfolio, and my work has changed a lot in that time frame.

    I’m excited to see the other ideas that people have for better websites, too. It’s a good project to discuss!

  • I also use WordPress and really love it. I get asked all the time about my website/blog and what type it is. I love the functionality, user friendliness for both me and the customer of WordPress. I look forward to seeing what you come up with. I like to keep my sites looking fresh and up to date also- it’s important! It’s the hub/face of my artworld:)

  • I’ve taken the leap and have begun changing my site to a wordpress site (especially since my hosting company offers it for free). The learning curve is huge at this point, but I’m hoping to get a handle on this thing soon.

    Thanks for the kick in the pants. I needed it.

  • I use WordPress for my blog and HTML and CSS for my website. I have no plans to change this. My blog does, in fact, reflect my website design. I enjoy coding almost as its own art form but also because it is so different from my art creations. It’s a nice combo of using both sides of my brain and sometimes there is a definite intellectual challenge which I also enjoy.

    At the moment my website’s logistical design pleases me. On the to do list are adding images and internal pages for specific works of art and possibly compacting my left side navigation. It has quite a few menu items that I would not mind seeing condensed, but I’ve not made any decisions here. I have links to sign up for my newsletter but I have been contemplating making a more prominent invitation.

    That said, I recognize that not everyone gets the same thrill from coding as I do and would therefore probably also recommend using WP as a base for a website if that’s the case.

  • thank you for these simple yet effective steps – I keep having to remember to look at my website as an ‘outsider’ and see how it looks and feels and ‘works’ – it’s hard when you’ve spent hours ‘inside’ it changing and updating it … I asked a few close friends to have a play on my site for me and see how it worked / felt – they gave me useful feedback I can now work with …

  • My website is an ongoing work in progress. Each month one page is taken down edited and rewritten.

    The gallery page always carries art that is young and fresh [not more than two years old]. Why would your callers be interested in seeing all those works of art that you produced since junior school?

    Why do you list all your Awards? Shows? Exhibitions? Art Education? It only bores your visitor to the point of clicking away.

    The about you/your art page? follow Alyson’s ‘Evergreen Content Principle’ And keep it freshly edited too.

    • Phil: I think those awards, etc. are usually for other artists to ogle over. I agree that they’re not very interesting, so I usually just don’t read them. I’d say it doesn’t hurt to have them, though.

  • Lee

    Some good ideas and reminders. I really have to add a blog to my art site.

  • I really like WordPress, but the key to finding a theme is to not agonize over it. After searching for days, it seemed, I just stuck with twentyeleven and modified it somewhat to suit. If I can get it “70% there” I’m happy.

  • This post hit home for me as my site has expanded in more directions than an octopus and the design no longer makes sense in many ways. For the last decade or so I’ve used Dreamweaver to update the HTML code, but now my web designer is pushing me to move the whole site into WordPress. I like WordPress for my blog, but I’m having a hard time envisioning it as a platform for my enormous site that originally launched in the early 90s and has grown and morphed along with my business over the years. It’s overwhelming to think about the whole re-design that is needed, but I appreciate the idea of breaking the task into smaller chunks with sequential deadlines. I’ve found StoryTurbo.com to be a cool application for organizing content that might replace those sticky notes. Maybe I’ll start using it to inventory my site… You’ve inspired me!

    • E – I’m so happy to see your name here. I will look at StoryTurbo. HUGE fan of Evernote, but ST sounds a lot different. I was kind of looking forward to using up my bountiful supply of Post-Its.

  • A timely topic for me. I have several sites and all three are in a constant state somewhere between disrepair and almost there. Recently my LisaMackin site received a lot of visitors – sadly not due to my art but because I happened to pictured with hockey great Bobby Orr at an event. My name was listed so traffic was driven to my site. That was when I realized that I realized how many old hidden links I had and how my site was not at all giving off the impression I wanted. Several months ago I slapped it together with the intent to get back to it (them) and fix it and instead got caught with my virtual pants down. I am now going to try and follow your guidelines/timeline and whip all three back to submission!

  • My biggest problem is impatience. I want my new site to go live before it’s done. I keep reining myself in and telling myself no.

  • One tip:
    to gain more traffic spend some time to research the keywords you will use for each page of your site, use the Wordtracker tool or similar for this. This is the KEY to have traffic. For example, If you create one page using the keyword “art portfolio” simply nobody will find you using the search engines.
    Google does not care if your artwork is great or if your site design looks nice… the keywords are the ones that will generate organic traffic. I have failed to do this during many years until finally things changed for me. Create a website for two types of visitors: people (humans) and Google! if not your portfolio will be just lost in the big Internet ocean.