Can You Help With My Existing Website?

Can you help me with my existing website?

When asked if we can help with an existing website, there is no short answer. It depends what you would like help with and the current status of your website. The following information covers the things we are asked about most often and if it's something we can't help with, we've tried to explain why.

Can you change some information on my existing website?

If you want some text or images changing in your existing website, we can most likely help with this. If your website has a Content Management System, you will need to provide us with the login information. Otherwise, we would need FTP access. This is so we can change the physical files that your website has been built with.

If you want information changing in the header or footer of your website, the amount of information will need to remain almost identical to the information currently there. Otherwise, it could have major knock-on effects with how your website displays across various screen sizes. Regardless of whether your website has a Content Management System, to make changes to the header or footer, it’s highly likely we will need FTP access.

Whenever you’re changing information in an area without room for expansion, it’s important to stick to a similar amount of information. A change in the amount of information can easily break the layout of your website on certain screen sizes. Other examples, besides the header and footer, would be text over the top of sliders or testimonial quotes. Just because it looks like there is enough room for expansion on a desktop computer doesn’t mean there is. Try looking at your website on a mobile phone and see if there is still room for expansion.

If you can’t provide us with working Content Management System and/or FTP logins where necessary, we aren’t going to be able to help you.

Can you adjust the appearance of my existing website?

The answer to this is most likely no and the following explains why…

The first hurdle…Gaining full access to your website!

To adjust the appearance of your website, it’s important that we have full access to your website. For example, logins to your Content Management System, FTP access to your files and PHP MyAdmin access to your Database. We require the majority of this information to carry out the changes. More importantly, it gives us the ability to restore your website, should any of our changes not have the desired effect. If you can’t provide us with working logins to gain the access we require, we aren’t going to be able to help you.

The most common problem…Working with an off-the-shelf theme!

More often than not, your website will have been built using an off-the-shelf theme. The idea of these themes is that you just modify things that are available in the settings of the theme. Although customisations are possible, they are often a lot more complicated than working on a custom built theme. This is because you’re fighting against the original choices of the theme developer.

Something that’s very important to consider when customising an off-the-shelf theme, is to apply the changes within a Child Theme. Themes require updating. If you don’t apply customisations within a Child Theme, when updating the theme, you may lose all of the customisations.

If your website has been built using a theme that the developer no longer supports, updates won’t be released. Sooner or later, your theme won’t function correctly with the rest of the code on your website. Even if your theme is still supported, unless you can provide us access to the account where your theme was originally purchased, we will need to purchase another licence. This licence then enables us access to the updates released for your theme.

Some themes have so many configurable options, there is no need for any customisations. This, however, creates an entirely different problem. A theme is like a piece of software for a computer… There are a bunch of menu items, providing various options.
Just because you know how to use Microsoft Word, it doesn’t mean you know how to use Microsoft Powerpoint right? Well, it’s the same for us with themes.
Just because we know how to use one theme, it doesn’t mean we can dive straight into a different theme and know where the same settings are. We need to read the documentation and often contact the theme developer, which all takes time.

Other things to consider…How has your website been styled?

For many years, the appearance of a website has been controlled by stylesheets, written in something called CSS. Websites also used to focus mainly on desktop computer displays. With the introduction of smartphones and tablets, styling has taken into account different screen sizes. It has become more productive to focus on the styling of mobile devices first and adjust the styling for larger displays. An improved method of styling websites also became available and something called SCSS is now used to style websites, which is a lot faster than using CSS. If your website has been styled using CSS and is focussing on desktop displays first (with adjustments for smaller displays), it’s going to take us a lot longer to make your changes.

Can you add some functionality to my existing website?

When adding functionality to a website, we would require full access. For example, logins to your Content Management System, FTP access to your files and PHP MyAdmin access to your Database. The majority of this information is required to carry out the changes. More importantly, however, it gives us the ability to restore your website, should any of our changes not have the desired effect. If you can’t provide us with working logins to gain the access we require, we aren’t going to be able to help you.

When adding functionality to a website, it often requires adjusting the appearance. If this is the case, the information in the section above “Can you adjust the appearance of my website?”, will be relevant to you.

Also, adding functionality to a website often requires some 3rd party code. This code often requires the code in the rest of your website to be updated to the latest versions. Updating the code in your existing website can trigger off other potential problems. These problems are in the section below “Can you maintain my existing website?”

Can you maintain my existing website?

When maintaining a website, we would require full access. For example, logins to your Content Management System, FTP access to your files and PHP MyAdmin access to your Database. We require the majority of this information to carry out the changes. More importantly, however, it gives us the ability to restore your website, should any of our changes not have the desired effect. If you can’t provide us with working logins to gain the access we require, we aren’t going to be able to help you.

Besides the things discussed in the sections above, maintaining a website will mainly involve keeping it updated. This is so your website continues to run smoothly, without any glitches/bugs or security issues.

If the original developer has made any advanced customisations to areas of your website, which we are not informed about, carrying out updates could wipe over these customisations. This may potentially break important areas of your website.

A typical website consists of thousands of files, each containing thousands of lines of code. It’s just not possible to pick up someone else’s work and have a full understanding of how the website has been built and what modifications have taken place.

There are standards in place, where customisations should be carried out in a particular place, which would prevent the need for understanding the entire website structure. These standards aren’t always followed through and the only way to find out is the hard way.

Can you improve the Search Engine Optimisation of my existing website?

When carrying out Search Engine Optimisation for a website, we would require full access. For example, logins to your Content Management System, FTP access to your files and PHP MyAdmin access to your Database. We require the majority of this information to carry out the changes.  More importantly, however, it gives us the ability to restore your website, should any of our changes not have the desired effect. If you can’t provide us with working logins to gain the access we require, we aren’t going to be able to help you.

The time that it takes for the pages of your website to load, is a big factor in how your website performs in the search engines. It’s therefore essential to have fast web hosting. We won’t host websites that we haven’t built. This is because we require all of the websites that we host to have their code kept up to date. Updating the code in your existing website can trigger off potential problems. These potential problems are detailed in the section above “Can you maintain my existing website?”

We can optimise the images on your website so that they are the smallest file size possible. However, if your web hosting is slow, the cards will still be stacked against you.

We can ensure Alt text is assigned to all the images on your website. Alt text helps screen readers describe the images to the visually impaired.

Google prioritises websites with an SSL certificate. An SSL certificate encrypts the data sent between your visitors and your website. Visually, your website address would start with https:// instead of http://. We include an SSL with our web hosting, but with other web hosts, this can be a time consuming and an expensive task to set up.

Other things to help improve your SEO

Other things we can do to help improve your Search Engine Optimisation are below. However, if you ignore the time it takes for the pages of your website to load, you’re fighting a losing battle.

In order to ensure search engines notice your website, we can adjust and increase the content on the pages of your website. We can also ensure the content includes relevant keywords. We update Meta Title and Descriptions for your pages, ensuring they reflect the content on the page. Meta Titles and Descriptions contain the information that appears when a page of your website is listed in search results.

We can generate an XML sitemap and submit it to Google. This helps inform Google of all the pages on your website.

We can ensure URL’s and file names are correctly formatted to help SEO, such as not containing underscores. Also, when adjusting URL’s, we set up 301 redirects. It’s important to redirect any visitors to your old URL’s to the new URL’s.

We can set up Google Analytics and link it to your website so that you can track visitors.

If you are considering Google AdWords, you should definitely address all of the issues detailed above. Otherwise, you will be wasting a huge chunk of your advertising budget.

To summarise…

The various problems that can arise from helping you with an existing website, are often out of our control. However, they can appear like we are to blame and give our business a bad reputation. As a result, we rarely take on projects with existing websites.

By the time we look into an existing website, to find out what we realistically can and cannot do; the client finds the technical information overwhelming or is put off by the potential costs. We don’t see any money for the time we’ve spent looking into it.

If you decide to get a different company to help with your existing website, we’d highly recommend raising the issues we’ve discussed. Otherwise, you could be throwing money at something that will never give you the results you desire.

Websites, hosting and search engine optimisation go hand-in-hand and are best handled all by the same company. If you decide to have a new website built and would like a company to take care of all your website needs, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Share this: