Lee Matthew Jackson is an entrepreneurial consultant for digital agencies. He is the host of the Trailblazer FM podcast, YouTube Channel, and the Agency Transformation event. He has gained worldwide renown in the WordPress community and creative industry.
Are you a web agency owner, wondering why there is always that one website that causes all the headaches?
In our agency, it’s usually the one-off larger builds, where the initial project took months, and the launch was a nightmare.
Humor me for a moment… Make a mental list of your clients’ websites, and consider which has generated the most support requests. Was it the cookie-cutter brochure website, or was it that one project that took ages to build due to a large number of features and complex code?
I’m betting that 80% of the time, the larger, more complex build causes more support requests. The strange thing we do as business owners is accept that it “comes with the territory,” and we plod along supporting the website, fighting fires, and trying to manage the client relationship as effectively as possible.
When reviewing our support requests a few years ago, we realized that one of our clients was creating most of the support tickets. It was affecting the profitability of their account and also impacting our ability to care for other clients. The internal perception was they were a problem client, and the client’s perspective was probably that we were sloppy or incompetent.
In an effort to reduce the amount of resources we were having to assign to this client, we began to investigate.
The following are the key causes of our problems, and the lessons we learned along the way:
Large and Poorly Structured Code
The sheer size and complexity of the codebase, coupled with inconsistent coding practices, made the code difficult to navigate, troubleshoot, and maintain. Every time a change was made, it created a domino effect of new issues that needed to be resolved. This resulted in a frustrating and time-consuming process that left the team feeling overwhelmed and drained. Additionally, poorly structured code led to slow page loads, server crashes, and other issues that harmed the user experience and eroded client confidence.
Invest time and resources in creating a clear structure and naming conventions, enforcing coding conventions, and maintaining a clean codebase, and you can prevent the code from becoming unmanageable over time. This not only saves time and resources but also helps reduce the occurrence of new issues. By communicating with the client about the complexity of the code, they can understand why issues may take longer to resolve and manage their expectations accordingly.
In our haste to get the project completed, we’d neglected to create proper documentation that would help the client understand how to use and maintain their website.
This resulted in an endless stream of support tickets as the client struggled to figure out how to perform basic tasks or deal with common problems. We found ourselves repeatedly answering the same questions and providing the same instructions, which wasted a lot of time.
The client themselves had high staff turnover. Therefore, onboarding relied on the client training new hires from their limited knowledge and experience.
Creating comprehensive and easily accessible documentation is crucial to the long-term success and sustainability of a project. It’s important to take the time to document processes, procedures, and guidelines so that clients and other stakeholders have the resources they need to understand how to use and maintain their website.
By doing so, it can save a lot of time and resources in the long run and minimize the number of support tickets or questions that arise.
It’s essential to consider the potential for staff turnover and ensure that the documentation is clear and concise so that new team members can quickly and easily onboard and get up to speed on the project.
The user interface (UI) of the website was another major contributor. As a result of rushing the project and reacting to scope creep, the UI was poorly designed and difficult to navigate.
The design flaws and lack of user-friendliness also made it difficult for the client’s staff to manage the site on their own.
Investing time and resources into user experience and interface design is crucial for the success of a website. Rushing or neglecting this aspect of a project can lead to poor usability, low engagement, and increased support requests. It’s important to prioritize the user’s needs and make sure that the website is intuitive and easy to use. Additionally, involving the client in the design process and gathering their feedback can help ensure that the UI meets their specific needs and preferences.
Catch-All Hosting Plan
When we first took on the project, we assumed that our usual catch-all hosting plan would be sufficient to support the website. After all, it had worked perfectly fine for all our other sites.
From launch, we’d seen slow page loads, intermittent downtime, and server crashes. It was a nightmare trying to keep the site online and running smoothly. We upgraded the package with the host, which kept the site online most of the time, but never seemed to provide the speed we needed, and would still crash if the client sent out an email campaign and drove traffic to the site.
Always thoroughly assess the hosting requirements of each individual project, rather than assuming that a catch-all hosting plan will be sufficient. One-off large builds require more resources and specialized hosting plans that can accommodate sudden spikes in traffic or growth in content and features without compromising site performance.
It’s important to work with a hosting provider who has experience in managing and troubleshooting custom-built sites and who can offer expert advice and support. Don’t compromise on site performance and reliability by choosing a hosting plan based on cost or convenience.
The Biggest Factor
While there was so much we could have done and fixed for our client, hosting was the biggest contributor to our pain. We resolved this by applying the following checklist when selecting our new hosting partner:
- Scalability: Choose a provider that offers the ability to scale resources, such as RAM, storage, and bandwidth, as your website grows or experiences spikes in traffic. This will ensure that your website can handle fluctuations in traffic without affecting performance or user experience.
- High Traffic Management: Opt for a host that specializes in managing high-traffic websites and has a proven track record of maintaining performance and uptime during traffic surges. This will help prevent server crashes and slow page load times.
- Security Features: Prioritize suppliers that offer robust security measures such as firewalls, SSL certificates, malware scanning, and regular backups. This will help protect your website and client data from potential threats.
- Support: Look for a company that offers 24/7 customer support with a team of experts who can help troubleshoot issues and provide guidance on optimizing your website’s performance. This will ensure that you have a reliable support system in place when you need assistance.
- Server Location: Select a web host with servers located near your target audience to minimize latency and improve page load times. This can have a significant impact on user experience and overall website performance.
- Performance and Uptime Guarantees: Choose a company that offers guarantees on website performance and uptime, typically backed by a Service Level Agreement (SLA). This will give you peace of mind and help hold the hosting provider accountable for maintaining the quality of their service.
- Content Delivery Network (CDN) Integration: Look for a platform that offers easy integration with a CDN to further improve website performance, particularly for visitors accessing your website from various locations around the world.
- Customization and Control: Opt for flexibility in terms of server configurations, software installations, and other customizations to accommodate the unique requirements of your custom-built website.
- Backup and Recovery Solutions: Ensure the availability of regular backups and a reliable recovery plan in case of data loss or server failures. This can help safeguard your website and minimize downtime.
- Transparent Pricing: Choose a partner with clear and transparent pricing plans, so you can accurately budget for hosting costs and avoid any hidden fees or unexpected charges.
Talk to Us
If you’ve experienced any of these challenges while supporting a unique, large, or complex build, Convesio is here to help. We have extensive experience working with custom sites that demand high traffic management and meet all the criteria on our recommended checklist.
We understand the specific needs and challenges that come with managing one-off large builds, and we’re confident in our ability to provide the right hosting solution for your project.
That’s why we’re offering a free consultation to discuss your specific requirements and explore how we can work together to ensure your website performs at its best. During this consultation, our experts will assess your site’s needs and recommend a tailored hosting solution that aligns with your project goals and budget.
Don’t let hosting headaches hold you back. Reach out to us today and let’s explore how Convesio can help you manage your website with confidence and ease.