The challenge for website owners

The Challenge for Website Owners

I’ve just got back from being away with my kids in West Wales and, as usual, the brain never fully switches off from business, and I thought I’d come back and blog about what I’ve been mulling: the challenge for website owners.

This is a slightly funny time to be on holiday – what with COVID and the poor weather we had. It meant that I needed to check websites even more often to see what was available, what was open for the kids etc.

Here I share some thoughts about the current state of small business websites, plus the direction of travel. I’m not going to name names about individual websites as that simply isn’t fair and the whole point of this article is not to point fingers, but more to consider where websites are going, and what business owners will need to do to meet that challenge.

Below are some of the points that come to mind – the points don’t particular flow together well but I thought I’d jot them down anyway:

Messy Structure

A sprawling website structure is all too often common – no real thought has gone into what content people actually need, and therefore it’s hard to find things. Planning a website structure, considering the content we need on each page is something typically referred to as ‘Information Architecture‘.

A lot of website planning comes down to common sense – however, common sense goes out of the window when we quickly jump to choosing a WordPress theme, add it to the site, drop in some content – before we know it we have a few pages/sections on the site without really thinking the structure through.

Tip: you are much better off planning your website content very early in the project. And if you have a current messy website – don’t fear, all is not lost, it’s never too late to re-organise your website structure so that it makes life easier for your online audience (indeed, the ongoing maintenance of your site is part of the job!).

Most smaller businesses simply won’t have core web design skills in-house so, if they are assembling the site themselves hopefully they can find useful resources like the video I did on ‘how to create a visual sitemap‘.

Or if they are working with a design company, hopefully they are investing sufficient money to be able to work with a quality supplier who can handle all of these aspects for them. (As an aside, I wrote about investing sufficient money in a recent post called ‘Is £10 too much for a website?‘).

Making your website structure clearer and more accessible is probably the single most easy opportunity for many website owners.


More and more websites use WordPress (which I can’t complain about, as a WordPress specialist agency!). If you don’t know, WordPress offers shrink-wrapped, off-the-shelf designs called ‘themes‘. Budget sensitive projects tend to reach for these to help reduce cost – even though the reality is that a custom theme will pay dividends in the long run (95% of our projects are custom themes, and here is an article on ‘custom v off the shelf themes‘).

Choosing a theme can be hard work for the uninitiated; where do you start? What are you looking for?

One website which offers themes is Theme Forest – and the name couldn’t be more apt! Where do you start? How do you see the wood for the trees?

A problem here is that not all themes are created equal; many have strengths and weaknesses. Some are suitable for certain types of content than others. Some themes are positioned as specific to a sector (e.g. pubs and restaurants) where, in reality, you don’t need a sector-specific theme – you just need a good theme!

On holiday I came across quite a few examples of clunky website themes – including some with very poor mobile experience (including issues that Google will penalise in terms of SEO come 2021); again, I won’t name names – this is more about where industry it at at the moment.

The answer here, especially for the very budget sensitive companies, comes down to better advice. And if you are a company choosing a website theme right now? I would say, keep it simple, concentrate on your content – you can always move to a more complex theme later on.

All change

Changing themes in WordPress is certainly possible on existing websites  – it’s sometimes more work than simply installing a new theme (especially if you have custom code or if you wish to take advantage of certain abilities of the theme); for this reason we would always recommend that you play around with a new theme on a private, test website first.


Finding websites which made it clear how they were currently affected by COVID (opening times) was hit and miss.

Again, this is not super surprising as for many micro-business updating their website is a background task, one that gets easily forgotten – even in unprecedented times like this.

Google tries to offer help with their Google My Business offering. For those who don’t know, this is a free service which allows us to tell Google about our business and even allows Google to present this structured information in their search results. E.g. here is what you see when you search for Glass Mountains:

With this service you can also add specific COVID related information:

Indeed, within the admin section for Google My Business, can you even set up a rudimentary website yourself:

Google My Business (GMB) has certainly got more advanced over the last couple of years and has evolved by adding new features etc. So perhaps facilities like this will become advanced enough so that micro-businesses don’t even need a website – perhaps. Though, to be honest, that doesn’t really solve the issue – it just moves the goalposts – the GMB interface is as complex and intimidating as the backend to WordPress – so the learning curve remains whatever.

If I were a micro-business, I would certainly get GMB set up but I would maintain my own website.

Uptodateness (again)

My youngest swims at the Torfaen Dolphins club in Pontypool. Their website was non-existent when we joined so I was happy to help out for free – they are a non-profit org, run by volunteers putting in a load of work for the kids – so I was only too happy for Glass Mountains to help.

The club runs training sessions for differing levels of ability – as we have started to come out of lockdown an improvised training schedule was put together. However, the website was not updated – which is a shame given the timetable on the website is the 3rd most popular page (look at that average time spent on page):

Again, this is not a criticism of any org or any person – but it does show the time pressures that many small organisations are under. The website tends to get overlooked. But we don’t want our website visitors (and Google) to lose confidence in the quality and relevance of our website content – that will ultimately be bad for SEO.

In this case, I and my team will happily step in and keep it up to date but that’s not really the point – where will other micro-businesses turn? Let’s discuss that next.


The German’s have a fantastic word for ‘focal point’ or ‘centre of gravity’ and that is ‘schwerpunkt‘. You must Google how to pronounce it, it’s superb!

The schwerpunkt for many orgs and businesses will be focussing on what they need to do regarding their websites, rather than getting sidetracked into areas which are irrelevant (or better suited to outside skills*).

(*Though I feel orgs pain here in not always knowing when they need to contact outside help. Time costs money and they need to spend wisely).

I don’t think this means orgs spending a hugely increased amount of time on their sites; perhaps a little, but the main focus here is on slightly increasing the priority of the website within the fabric of orgs/businesses. Getting questions like “How does this affect the website?“, “Should this go on the website?‘” etc deeply engrained into the culture – it is too often an afterthought.

COVID has brought into sharp focus how on the ball we need to be when it comes to maintaining an up to date online presence.

Final Thoughts

Our entry-level web design projects typically start around £6K+ (more for bespoke) – such costs can seem out of reach to non-profits and microbusinesses however the websites of such orgs are really where the rubber hits the road for a lot of Internet experiences and if Glass Mountains can help, we will.

We have blog articles such as these, and we have #TheWPshow  – a free community consisting of a Facebook Group plus live events to help businesses who use WordPress.

We are also launching wpPowerAcademy (‘WordPress Power Academy‘) which is a monthly membership programme aimed to help businesses and website owners constantly upskill and improve their WordPress websites. wpPowerAcademy will certainly give many a safe refuge and an informed place to turn when they get stuck or need help & ideas. More details will be released in Sept – to find out more, please join the free #TheWPshow community (or get in touch).

Hope that helps.



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