It’s easy to focus on the design aspects of a website. They are the most visible – of course – and the most intuitive. But there are several technical elements that are critical to having a well functioning website. And that’s why we worked hard with our new client, The Gate Lever, to strengthen their rocky website technology foundation.
Looking under the hood
The Gate Lever is a small business owned by Karen Weber. A natural inventor and entrepreneur, she not only designed an invention to help open tall gates, she lined up manufacturing in the Seattle area, and was soon off and running. After a few years of online sales, she began to expand to retail locations but faced a barrier. Her website became a serious headache, and she couldn’t get her email to work. Website updates weren’t possible, which made it difficult to promote her products to new retail locations. That’s when she called us.
After a quick look at the back end of her website, we found the problem. Her website was built on a WordPress platform, with a custom-designed theme. At Bombastic, we love WordPress and work with it all the time (in fact, you are reading this on a WordPress website). But like all open source web design platforms, it requires regular maintenance. And while The Gate Lever’s website was still looking fine on the outside, there were some significant problems under the hood.
Out of date theme, plugins and SEO – not good
First of all, The Gate Lever’s website had been built with a custom-designed theme that had never been updated. All WordPress websites are built with a “theme” that contains all the layout code. The theme code is independent of the WordPress structure code, which is handy if you want to make design changes on the fly. However, because The Gate Lever’s theme hadn’t been updated to match the WordPress code updates, it was no longer working properly.
Secondly, The Gate Lever is an e-Commerce website. It runs on a WooCommerce framework, which is designed to integrate with WordPress through code plugins. These WooCommerce plugins were not up to date either. Not only did this cause some functions to stop working, but it actually exposed the website to possible malware attack (which luckily didn’t happen). Several other key code plugins were also out of date.
And on top of it all, the website was not organized to the latest SEO standards. The visuals – color scheme, photos – were just fine. But the website had such a small amount of text, there was very little information for search engines to index in their directories.
In short: the website had several complex updates that needed detangling before work could continue.
Updating the website without a service interruption
Once the seriousness of the issues were really understood, Bombastic worked on a plan to fix the problems without causing the website to be down. Bombastic created the new website with a temporary domain – hidden from the general public – that could be rebuilt with the up to date code. Plus, the website was recreated on a standard, stable theme that is updated on a regular basis by a reputable coding firm. No more worries about getting behind!
Then, we migrated the website to live and underwent several days of testing to iron out the last wrinkles.
Finally – we were able to turn our attention to the email problems. We found a simple way to create a single email account with The Gate Lever’s web hosting company that leveraged their domain name and is easy to access. We even created free email aliases to save them money.
A happy ending
Karen has reported that sales are flowing in, and she is able to focus on selling her products instead of worrying about whether she can depend on her website. While she was not exactly pleasantly surprised by the complex problems that we found in her website, we are so pleased to have her back in business.
”My website was in desperate need of some updating and my current web developer had a family crisis and was no longer available. I Googled local web developers and saw the name Bombastic Web and reached out. (I figured anyone with a name like that must be great to work with!) I reached Amy at Bombastic Web and was immediately put at ease with her and her teammate's knowledge as well as the reasonable pricing. We did an online meeting to get acquainted with my needs and then she sent over an estimate for the work that needed to be done. She was able to start the next week and just in time! as my website was starting to crash. Right off the bat I was impressed with her knowledge and ideas to make my website better than ever. (Bombastic Web is the fourth web developer I've worked with and by far the most knowledgeable and capable.) She brought things to my attention that I was unaware of and was also quick and efficient. Amy was easy to reach and replied quickly - no waiting and wondering if my needs were being met or if my questions would be answered. Any and all suggestions or changes I discussed were handled quickly and readily and without fuss or lengthy discussion. I have already recommended Bombastic Web to others and will continue to brag about their expertise and web development skills.Karen WeberInventer and Founder, The Gate Lever