Case study: Changing a website

Michael Mai, web developer

When Michael Mai approached me, I learned he was in the process of starting a new company, a web agency based in Berlin. Prior to this new company, Michael had been working for more than 15 years as a freelance web developer working in German.

Based on my work, he knew a typical website would be lacking for his agency. He wanted his agency to be very customer focused but didn’t know how to translate his idea into his website or create a supporting brand.

The website for his existing freelancer business was very me-focused, filled with technical copy that was not very user-friendly, as you can see below.

The headline translates as: “Move your online business forward.”

Michael said of his intentions for us working together:

I am aware that the content approach of a website is the deciding factor. Although we as an agency create websites for other customers, it is not possible for us to do this because the necessary objectivity is lacking and we often see things from too technical a point of view. That’s why I’ve been looking for an external consultant who knows how to create the content so that it works perfectly for our clients.

The job we agreed on focused on two areas: to further develop the new brand he’d created for his new business. And to also create a new direction for his website.

Unlike his previous website, this new website would be completely customer-oriented and would speak directly to the customer and their pain points.

We would also develop new copy on all key website pages including Home, About and Services. This included formatting any copy we created to fit the correct page structure for each page.

What happened next

We began discussing his agency’s goals, his intended target audience and how this agency solved their problems. We met face to face for these discussions. I also researched his clientele and quizzed Michael with an extensive questionnaire.

I also began developing different directions for the new website, from which Michael would choose one.

Each direction came with pairs of Home page headlines and subheadlines and mockups of the different Home page headlines and subheadlines, all of them created on a live test website on my server.

I also helped Michael source stock photos of his target customer to use on his Home page, including an example used with the mockups.

Here are two mockup examples:

Michael:

It struck me, during the strategy phase of work, that we still had to work on some of our products to better position them in the marketplace. This was the direct result of Tom’s specific product strategy questions and critical remarks. In addition, I noticed that our technical services dominated us and hid the consulting services. Tom helped us establish a balance here.

I coached Michael in the creation of original copy, which he wrote himself, after the new direction he wanted had been decided.

I then made sure his copy fit the page structures I’d developed to fit the new direction. This phase of the project also helped Michael define his business offerings, as he describes:

At the time of using his service, our company was in the making and the exact product description was not yet 100% defined. There were some corrections during the strategy phase and Tom did the consulting with as much patience and with detailed answers as I wanted.

The final chosen Home page for the agreed direction:

The final website can be seen here (we worked in English and the results were translated into German).

Michael’s thoughts on our work together:

What surprised me positively was the fact that we got a real prototype of a website in our hands and our team could examine the effect of the headlines directly on the Internet. This is much more effective than just getting a PDF or graphic mockup. I was also thrilled that Tom took a lot of time to explain how words work and how they do not work. You quickly realize that this is his passion. I also found it very helpful that we could choose between different website directions.

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