skull and bonesI make nice web sites.

Yet, once a web site is complete, and a web site owner has not opted for further search engine optimization (SEO), I have found a few of my web sites completely revamped. Either by the owner, who thinks he/she knows best, or by a “friend.” The web sites retain the original look, but are tricked out with all kinds of useless and even damaging changes.

In the three months since I designed and executed a recent client’s web site, the hits have gone up, and my client, at least temporarily, filled his schedule. His words.

Then, something happened.

As I mentioned, this ravage is caused by a web site owner’s “friend,” who says he or she knows a lot about web sites and can help the owner more than I can. Sigh. In this particular case, the “friend” claimed that underlining key words or encapsulating them in quotation marks was a big key. NOT. I explained this to my client, but it seems the case was lost.

Just this month, this same client announced that his “friend”  knew a lot about his topic. Not someone who knew about good writing, or making his topic palatable to the masses.

As a result, the web site has become ugly and not as useful as it once was.

In addition, the web site now has:

  • 200% more copy on each page
  • A bulky email form that once was a pop-up
  • Three long testimonials per page instead of one (all testimonials have a link to the full testimonials page)
  • A page counter (prominent below the text! Not at the bottom of the page)
  • Keywords in the meta information that are not actually present in the text itself (you can be penalized heavily for this — hence, my “damaging” remark above)

I don’t know what to say about this need for a page counter, except that page counters are as much an anachronism  as fanny packs. They are unnecessary, ugly, and have been eclipsed by better and more thorough products. Both were popular in the 90s. That’s it.

After all, I did set up Google Analytics for my client, with feedback not just on the web site but also on GA itself.

So, please, clients, be careful whom you choose to work on your web site. Currently there are no certifications for web designers and SEO specialists. Please, at the very least, bid out your needs … if you feel your web site needs better optimization, ask around. Do NOT take on someone who has no previous web site experience. Asking for resumes and previous web sites is de rigeur.

And designers, be sure to keep original files or, in the case of WordPress and other content management systems (CMSs), at least take screen grabs of your web sites. And, unfortunately, be prepared to delete a link to a client’s web site when it makes you look bad.

That’s what I’ll do.

Web clients, beware!

by susan time to read: 2 min

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