Whenever we onboard a new client, we always urge them to let us rebuild their current website. Why do we do this, and what exactly does a “rebuild” entail? The reason we urge our clients to have us rebuild their website is that, in most cases we see, their current site is plagued with technical issues. Sometimes, the site has design problems or user interface issues also.
Rebuilding a website doesn’t necessarily mean that we redesign the entire website top to bottom. There are cases when we keep the same visual website design and we rework the code structure and update the site architecture so the website can perform and rank better from an SEO perspective.
With this in mind, here are the steps we take at Hennessey Digital to rebuild a website while ensuring that nothing gets lost in this process.
Why Build Websites in WordPress?
Hennessey Digital uses WordPress to build and rebuild sites because it’s easy to use, create new content, and manage existing content. In addition, WordPress is updated frequently and comes with a vast amount of support from its user community.
WordPress also has several add-ons and features for developers to make it easy for anyone to simply install a plugin and build new website features.
(And as an aside, we discovered in our newly released 2022 State of Law Firm Website Rankings study that 65% of law firms use WordPress for their websites!)
Our Custom WordPress Framework
When it comes to code structure and code quality, our Senior Engineers work on updating our own WordPress framework which we developed as a child theme of Genesis and use on every website that we build. Our team continually updates this framework and introduces new features to ensure that everything works as efficiently as possible.
Hennessey Digital developed this WordPress framework primarily with SEO and page speed in mind. Our framework has enhanced internal linking capabilities along with good code practices and content filtering and management.
Along with improved technical capabilities, our WordPress framework also makes it easy for developers because the code structure is up to the highest standards and latest methodologies. At Hennessey Digital, our developers use BEM, the most popular methodology for SCSS available.
Website Development Stage
First, we start by assigning the website rebuild to one of our developers. The assigned developer only works on one website at a time so they can fully focus on the client’s site rebuild without distractions.
Next, our full team—Engineering, SEO, Analytics, and Creative—starts by analyzing the client’s current website and determining what needs to be improved throughout the development process. This could be technical problems, design issues, or user experience/user interface enhancements (UI/UX).
After a thorough analysis, we create a detailed development plan with a list of changes that need to be implemented during the rebuild. With the client’s approval, these changes are developed into the rebuilt site.
After the website development work is finished, a Senior Engineer reviews the code and the functionality of the website. A thorough UI and UX review then goes to the Creative Director, whose primary goal is to make sure that everything looks and feels smooth for the user on all devices, be it mobile phones, tablets or desktop computers.
SEO and Quality Assurance
After all development work is completed and approved by a Senior Engineer, the SEO team begins its work on the website. This team reviews all title tags, meta descriptions, page structure (e.g. breadcrumbs), internal links, sitemaps, indexing, link structure, redirects, and existing content.
The SEO team also optimizes user experience on the website by structuring the architecture of the pages. This means that each user visiting a specific page can easily navigate through the site by finding more relevant content through properly structured internal links.
Our SEO team also manages the sitemap of the website. Even though most users will never visit the sitemap, a website’s sitemap is crucial because it’s the default way for Google bots to find and index each page on a site. You have to give the Google algorithm what it wants!
Website Approval and Go-Live
Once we wrap everything up, we then submit the website to the client for approval. As this happens, our internal team double-checks each technical and design aspect of the site to ensure everything is up to our standards.
When the website is approved to go live by a Senior Engineer, the Creative team, the SEO team, and the client, we do our final checks before deploying the website to a live environment. The first thing we check is making sure the content between the client’s existing website and our rebuilt site matches. Using a tool we developed in-house, we compare the content between the production website and the rebuild to make sure everything is in sync and we are not overwriting any changes.
After this step, we compare all links between the existing and rebuilt sites to make sure there are no discrepancies and no missing links. When both of the tests pass, we proceed with deploying the website to a live environment. Once the site is live, we re-check the lead forms and internal links to ensure the deployment was done correctly.
What Happens After a Rebuild
After a website rebuild is complete, we proceed with adding caching plugins so the page speed of the site increases. Concurrently, our SEO team does their work on the website, continuing to make improvements.
Likewise, our Engineering team continues work to improve both the technical performance of the website and user experience as well. Our developers fulfill requests ranging from simple information updates to introducing new features, or a completely new look for specific pages or parts of the website.
One very important aspect of digital marketing for our law firm clients is leads generated from the website. With this as top of mind, Hennessey Digital made the client review process smooth so they are notified about new leads as soon as they come in through our HD Platform. With the client’s permission, we integrate this feature after the rebuild is deployed so that our clients have full transparency into the lead generation process.
Our Analytics team also tracks client website data before and after a rebuild is deployed to measure the impact the rebuild had on the website’s performance on Google. This data is imperative for both our clients and our team as we pave the way for improving website performance and rankings even more.