Website launch: Training Insight

Who doesn’t love a good referral? In this case, Dianna Sanchez was so happy with her new site design, she referred one of her neighbors to me for some website work.

Training InsightChristine McKay runs her own consulting practice, Training Insight, doing custom training and computer setup for financial software (specifically QuickBooks and Sage Timeslips) in Cambridge, MA. She’s been in business for many years, which is great for her clients. On the downside, her website hadn’t been updated since 2004, and it was time for an overhaul. (Skip to the end of this post for the before-and-after slideshow… because, also, who doesn’t love a good before-and-after?)

Christine already has an established visual identity that is serving her well, and she wasn’t looking for rebranding or significant changes to the look of her site. What she mostly wanted help with was search engine optimization, in order to enhance her site’s reach and visibility to potential new clients. However, I told her that SEO would be best served by some structural adjustments to her site:

  • The majority of her content was contained in one long page titled “Services”. Search engines love specificity and hate redundancy, so I suggested breaking this topic up into several distinct pages. This way, each page could have a single H1 tag (indicating the top-level heading), helping search engines home in on the real focus of that page and distinguish her various pages from each other.
  • At the same time, I wanted to preserve the URL structure of her existing pages so that they would retain their ranking and traffic history.
  • The old site used graphics rather than live text to display such essential elements as page headers and callout boxes. This made sense in the early 2000s, when webfonts were difficult to control, but it’s terrible for SEO. Since Training Insight’s logotype font, Optima, is a classic sans-serif typeface suitable for both text and display, I implemented a webfont version to use throughout the site.
  • Behind the scenes, her pages needed basic SEO metadata such as titles, descriptions, and image alt tags. Fleshing these fields out is just due diligence.
  • Adding links out to other pages about her business, such as her excellent reviews on Intuit’s QuickBooks ProAdvisor site and Training Insight’s listing on Cambridge Local First, would help build her site’s reputation in search engine rankings — and, of course, with her visitors.

Some of my other recommendations focused more on user experience.

  • Rather than include a separate “Home” link in the navigation, I suggested creating a consistent header section that would appear on every page, above the navigation bar, with a clickable logo that drives back to the front page. This convention has become the modern standard.
  • Adding some hierarchy to her site organization would improve her user experience, but it would also need to be reflected in the top navigation, e.g., with dropdown menus. The final menu tabs, which I adapted from, are a simple CSS-only structure so they don’t require JavaScript.
  • Increasing site traffic doesn’t mean much if your visitors aren’t driven to convert – meaning, in this case, submit an inquiry. Each page needed a clear call to action, such as a prominent button saying “Get Started”. The action itself could just be an email link, but adding a fully featured contact form gives a more professional look.
  • In a few places, offers such as “Contact us for a sample training agenda” were buried in the page copy. While there’s something to be said for giving prospects a reason to reach out to you — or requiring an email address in exchange for a deliverable — it’s more appropriate if you’re publishing something of specific value to them. The documents Christine was offering were more like sales materials, in the vein of demonstrating her expertise, so I recommended lowering the barrier by posting PDFs directly to her site as downloadable assets. (In the end, we cut some of these documents altogether. We kept one downloadable presentation, which I re-typeset to tighten the format and incorporate her branding fonts and logo.)

Besides these structural changes, I did some general freshening: modernizing the page layout (and making it mobile-responsive rather than fixed-width), picking out new photos, creating graphical treatments of some text-heavy sections, and playing up her branding colors to brighten the overall look.

You can check out the before-and-after below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And, of course, if you need QuickBooks training (whether in greater Boston or remotely), call on Christine!

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