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Website Audit Secrets: Enhancing Your Online Presence

In Conversation with Ryan Stetz

For this episode of E-Coffee with Experts, Ranmay Rath interviewed Ryan Stetz, Partner and Right Brain at 232 Creative, a full-service marketing and creative agency located in Pittsburgh. Ryan shares his marketing journey experience such as common website design mistakes for small businesses, and the significance of user experience in web development. He also shares insights on web design platforms and conducts website audits on creativity, marketing, and building an effective online presence.

Watch the episode now for some profound insights!

Good design enhances user experience, making websites easy to navigate, visually appealing, and trustworthy.

Ryan Stetz
Partner and Right Brain at 232 Creative

Great. Shall we start?

Hey. Hi everyone

Today we have Ryan who is the Partner, and Right Brain at 232 Creative, a full-service marketing and creative agency located in Pittsburgh. Thank you so much, Ryan, for taking the time for our podcast.

Yeah, thanks for having me.

Great. Ryan, before we move forward and put your brains on the topics that we’re supposed to discuss it’ll be great if we can quickly introduce ourselves to our audiences tonight.

I’m Ryan Stetz, a partner at 232 Creative. 232 Creative is a full marketing and creative agency. We do everything from video work to photography to websites, graphic design, social media management, email marketing, and marketing strategy. Basically, anything that you can think of we handle here at 232.

That’s the preferred of services, I must say, Ryan, can you tell us a little bit about your background in terms of how you got into marketing and the creative space?

So I actually went to the art institute in the pit of Pittsburgh and graduated with a graphic design degree.

After I graduated, knew that. Wanted to do my own thing and come from a long line of entrepreneurs. My mother and father had their own business. My grandma had a hair salon in her basement. Wanted to do my own thing and started freelancing when I got out. Built up a good portfolio of clients from there.

And then, After about seven or eight years, I actually got my first real corporate job, working in a cubicle. It was only supposed to be part-time. I was just filling in for a friend who was on maternity leave. And I was still doing the freelance thing. But then after that, just the cubicle wasn’t for me.

And, still wanted to do my own thing. Me and my business partner Mike Miller. We were out one night having some drinks and discussing life. And then that’s where 232 happened. We didn’t know if it was just an alcohol-induced conversation at the time, so the next morning we called each other and said, Hey, were you serious about that?

And we both were. So, we started 232 about seven years ago now.

What were you having that night?

I was having beered. I believe he was having Moscow Mules there. There’s a photo of the both of us sitting on a rooftop at a bar in Pittsburgh and Shady Side. That was the inception of the company.

So with the constantly evolving landscape of marketing and tech how does 232 Creative stay up to date with the latest strategies out there?

There’s a lot of different ways. It’s looking at what other people are doing. Let’s, not lie to ourselves. We’re, obviously, all creative people who are inspired by something and someone so just keep an eye on what’s going around. Educating ourselves on those latest trends through websites, YouTube, through basically anything. And trying to create our own thing.

That’s, also a big part of it. Not just mimicking what you’re seeing in not being original, but trying to be creative in your own sense and building something of your own.

Match as, people in the marketing and the initial space, we all go through a lot of content day in, day out.

So we all have our own learnings. Being the partner at 232 Creative you must have every business have this strong core processes and systems in place. Do you mind sharing some light in terms of what are your core processes and value systems that you do creatively?

Just for general marketing. I mean it’s different for a lot of things. With, I would say the most significant thing is just when a client comes to us and explains their needs, we do, we call it discovery period, and just do a deep dive into that company.

We’ll sit down with them for an hour to two hours and just Have them explain who they are, their mission, their goals, and what they’re trying to get from us. Because we’re, obviously paid for a reason and we’re just trying to perform the best we can for those clients.

So it’s, a lot of understanding who the client is because every client is different. There’s no client that we’ve seen like, that client’s the same as this client. So we’ll just do the same thing there. It rarely ever happens. The restaurant business is maybe somewhere that could happen. But at the same time, each restaurant is completely different. And so it’s just understanding, it’s just a complete discovery period with that client on who they are and what their mission is and what they were what their goals are for us.

So there’s a lot of learnings where you speak from speaking with people from the same niche, from the same industry. They have their own core values, and their own vision, and their way of the modus operating is different from person to person. So talking about businesses can you share some common mistakes that you know general small businesses make when designing or developing a website? And what is your recommendation in terms of how they go about avoiding them?

I think speaking directly to websites. That’s what you asked. I think too much information, a lot of the time people look at their website as a last-ditch effort, and that’s like the only thing that someone, a viewer’s going to see.

So they need to put so much information on it. And while information is good, we also feel sometimes less is more. And providing the most useful information for that viewer, for that potential customer or client can go a long way. Obviously making it very search engine optimized but just providing exactly what you want to say without because we get a lot of times we’ll, In the process of a website, we’ll ask a client, Hey, can you provide us the information that you want on some of these pages?

And then we’ll go back and forth with it. And a lot of the time we’ve gotten Word documents that have 40 paragraphs for one page. And it’s just these, know, while this is. Important to you? Is there a way that we can boil this down? One of the things like a call to action is getting the viewer to contact you.

If you’ve provided them all of this information, like they’re not gonna, they’re not gonna need to contact you. And another thing is obviously, With a lot of websites and the way that the world is nowadays, attention spans are very short. So when you’re on a website and you see just paragraphs and paragraphs, it’s who has time to read that?

So what we try to do is make that content and copy more digestible and break it up into sections with different header tags and try, and make it. Because if somebody looks at like a Word document and it’s seven paragraphs long, and that’s all.

They’re gonna be like, nah, I ain’t reading that. But if you break that up and put headers into each of those seven paragraphs on a website and add different backgrounds and different color schemes and such, it looks a lot more legible and friend-like friendly to the user and they’re gonna wanna read more of it.

So that’s one thing that I know that is a huge mistake that a lot of companies try to do is just try and provide too much information in one for one page.

So see these are emotional people who have created that business. So if you ask them what the main core area is, they talk about everything.

So as you mentioned if you ask them about a certain topic, they’ll go on and on about it as to how they went in the process of actually creating that product or service, can completely relate. And as probably web developers or agencies who support them in terms of development of the website or optimization we can narrow it down and make them understand that whatever goes on in the space has to be actually eye-catching for the other person, for the user or the customer to actually right.

Just cause they’re not gonna go through it, they don’t have time for that, right? So, completely can completely relate to it. We have also gone through a lot of similar stories actually. That brings the importance of user experience, everything that we all know.

For you, what is the importance of user experience when it comes to web development, and how it impacts the overall success of a website?

The one main thing that you want in a website is to make it easy to navigate, and that’s obviously a huge part of the user experience. So if there’s a lot going on or you wanna kind of pinpoint, what is the purpose of this page and what is the most important parts of it? And make that extremely easy to find because the one thing that people hate Is trying to locate something on a website when they go there and they can’t find the information that they need. While that might be great for like the amount of time that they spend on a page. And when you’re looking at Google Analytics everyone’s on this page for three minutes. If it took ’em two minutes and 30 seconds to find what they needed that’s not good.

It’s making everything extremely user-friendly and easy to find. And then also making it look good. If it is, they, go hand in hand if it’s not very easy or if the design isn’t there. And if it’s not pretty and, people are going to have a difficult time just like even just finding the information and then obviously there’s Don’t judge a book by its cover, but at the same time, like if it’s something if a website looks good, people are going to probably think that it is more legitimate than another website that was built on a platform that was nine from the 1990s or something like that.

So it’s, all about. Like I said, making it easy to navigate. And again, that kind of goes with the, too much information aspect of it, but also a big part of it is like tell, telling people what you do and providing the information that they’re looking for on that specific page or website.

Absolutely. And making them think that Call-to-Action like say making them take the action that you want them to take versus you just being on that page and going through it. So you know, and link, we call it link juice, right? So then move on from one page to another, and that is a roadmap in mind, in the creative mind that you know, my customer on this page.

What is the next call-to-action and how can I move my customer prospect from that page actual product page as you mentioned?

So many web design platforms and tools available. How do you recommend the ones we use for a particular project?

We typically build our websites in WordPress. It’s something that we know. We use a page builder called Beaver Builder.

We’ve also used Divi and WP Baker, we’ve been through all of them. The one that we keep coming back to is Beaver Builder. It helps for two reasons. One we know it very well, so we can build out a website very quickly. The other aspect of it is that it is extremely user-friendly.

It’s a wizzywig, it’s what is what you get. It’s like the Squarespace and the Ws where it’s just drag and drop. And we use that just because. Some of the time we provide website maintenance and upkeep and edits for clients on a monthly basis, but some just they, they’re like we probably won’t do too much of it.

But if we did, how would we go about doing this? After each website is completed and live for the client, If they ask we have a tutorial on how to do this, how do, we found that Beaver Builder is extremely useful and user-friendly, and easy to use for these, for our clients.

But WordPress I’ve gone through Joomla and Drupal in the world, and WordPress at least for an internet platform is, just my favorite for sure.

Let’s say when a new client walks through the door for you or let’s say prospect.

So how do you conduct a website audit for them let’s say they have already a website. How do you conduct an audit in terms of what are the things which are not up to the mark on their website? How do you identify optimization on that particular website, what is your process looks like?

Like I said we start off with a discovery period that we sit down with the client, whether that be for an hour or two hours, however long it takes, basically, for us to gather the information that we want. And, part of that discovery isn’t even necessarily about the website. A lot of it is about who the company is, what their mission statement is, what their goal what their goals are, what are they selling, is it a product. Is it a service? What kind of product, what kind of services? Who are their target markets? Who’s there who’s the audience that we’re trying to reach? So it’s just a lot of questions. Sometimes we think we’re asking too much and the client, the client, like at the end, they’re like all drained and stuff like that, but it’s all for a reason.

There’s no justification, hey, we’re just gonna build you a website and be done. You need to understand who, what, where, and why each client is. So that usually is the starting-off process. And then as you mentioned if they have a current website, part of that is also just looking at, their current website, asking them what they like, what they don’t like, what was working, what they want to keep, what they don’t want to keep, where they want to improve.

And again, just going through that and asking all of these questions To gather the information to help. And a part of that is the design. We spoke about user experience and just trying to see hey, you have a current website, what do you like about it? What do you don’t like about the design?

And then also going into, okay, who are some of your competitors and how do, how are their websites built? And do you like certain aspects of their website more than others? And then also not even in their industry, we also ask clients outside your industry, what are some dislikes and likes you like about websites?

Because realistic, a website is a website it’s, images, its copy, its code, but like they all, they’re all basically the same entity, so we always ask you to think outside your realm and see if there’s anything that you like about a certain website that we can take and, bring yours because a lot we’ve all been on a website and been like I hate this functionality, I hate this or I hate that. And, just the same I love this website, I love that. It’s just, looking at their likes and dislikes. Also, the analytics if they have Google Analytics, which we’ve run into a lot of cases where they don’t know if they do, they might, but they don’t have the username and password to log into the account.

But if they do take a look at those and, see what’s currently working on their site and where we can improve. And also just Building a site map that’s, a huge part of it. And, that stems from asking them What their goals are. And looking at the analytics because most people have a structure of their current website.

But like, how can we manipulate that based on the analytics, based on this discussion, based on this discovery period to make your website better and to reach the goals and to sell your services or product or whatever it is? And then, finally, it’s just discussing the copy and what sort of imagery.

because obviously, those are the biggest parts of the website. Is the front-facing stuff? So just seeing if they’re going to be able to provide us a copy, we do. If it’s an industry that we’re familiar with, we’ll definitely help out. But we’ve done websites where we have absolutely no idea what the client is selling or something like that.

So we try and Get them to help us out and to at least create a basis, and then we’ll go in and touch it up for grammar and for SEO and stuff like that, but also just gathering of images. I think that’s, probably one of the hardest things with working with clients and, is gathering because they’re the I just Google search this one.

We can only use that if you have one. You have the right to it or somebody took it on behalf of you or something like that. It’s a long strenuous process, but it’s all necessary to get that end product.

Has this ever happened?

This has happened to me multiple times. During the discovery call when we actually go in and ask some questions about the let’s say mission, vision. These two things. Google Analytics obviously has happened times now. But these things like when you talk about mission, the vision, and what is the end goal and sort of things.

I have come across cases wherein the founders themselves were shocked that they were about to be answering so many questions about their own businesses. After being in that business for five years, three years, whatever. So have I been searching since with you as well?

That’s when we sit down with a lot of these clients and ask all these questions. It’s a learning process for them too. It’s stuff that they might not have thought about unless it’s, a huge company that has all this in some PDF that they send out to people.

A lot of these smaller businesses and even medium-sized businesses like it’s eye-opening for them. Like what is our mission state? What is the, like who are we basically? So we’re not only helping ourselves, we’re helping them. So, it’s extremely beneficial for both parties involved.

And talking about storytelling in rounding we all know how important is it. If you can share some tips in terms of how it can be into website design and content.

We’re talking about branding specifically. Some of the clients that come to us at least in the beginning of 232 like we’re startups.

We dealt a great deal with startups in the beginning and we were actually creating their branding and helping them create those we had designed the logo, and we would design the business cards, the letterhead any sort of marketing materials. The website was obviously a main component of that.

And after the logo, typically that’s where we started. We would design the logo and create a corporate identity package but then go into the website and, make sure that you know this website and some of the elements are translated.

Like translatable to other aspects and other applications that they’re going to be using and marking, whether that’s social media or a one-pager or a trifold, or even like signage Within the business itself.

So, I think that a lot of the fun process is creating that brand for that company. Because I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily easier, but like, whenever a company comes to you and already has a style guide and has a brand you can use those color schemes and any sort of elements they already have within the website or anything that you’re creating for them.

I think it’s really useful or really fun to actually create a brand for a company. And you’re giving, you’re giving them life really. They had an idea, they have a vision, but they’re coming to you to bring it all together. And it’s, also fun to see when people have oh, we have some sketches, like we have this on a piece of paper, a napkin, and you see what their logo idea was or what their what they had envisioned. And then you take that and you actually create it and instill a logo and then you take their whole entire vision and make it a website.

It’s just, it’s a blast for sure.

Now before we kind of wind it up I’m sure our audiences would wanna know this from you how do you measure the success of a website’s branding and design efforts? And is that any numeric thing to it?

How, do you calculate these things to the creative and how do you adjust your strategies accordingly?

We look at obviously if the client is happy with the success of a website starts before it’s actually live. Is the client happy?

Did we do everything that they asked of us? And then from there, it’s did we, and if it’s an old site that we were redeveloping, did we improve it? Did we make it better? Did or if we made it harder, that wasn’t, or if we didn’t do any improvements to it and made it.

Even harder to search and find. And the user experience was garbage. Like we didn’t do our job. We look at it, okay did we do what we set out to do? Did we meet the goals? Did we, everything that we talked about in the discovery period, is it on this website? And then once it’s life, it’s just going back.

If, as I said, we mentioned, we do a lot of website maintenance for clients, keeping up with the analytics and just seeing are the calls to action working. Are the pages that we anticipated people going to the most? Is that working? And then if it’s not how can we adjust that?

And, that’s usually not like an immediate thing. Like obviously a website takes, a while to gather the sort of data that you need. I believe some people say it’s six months for a website to really get the information that you’re looking for to make any changes, but then just did, and did we speak to the target audience? Did we speak to the market that they’re trying to reach? And if we did all of that, then that’s, how we look at success.

So before we let you go, you touched upon CTA Call-to-Action. Any tips for our audiences on how to be consistent about creating effective call-to-actions with a brand’s messaging and values?

The thing is to have strong commands whether that be by shop order, download, join, and tell the user exactly what you are looking for them to do and have strong, actionable commands. Also making it easy to find you don’t want the call-to-action to look like anything else on the website.

Because then it just gets camouflaged within that site. Or any sort of marketing piece in general. And to make sure that you’re if there’s a deal or any sort of like a sale or discount or a benefit to the customer making that apparent. One thing that we definitely stress here is hey if it’s 25% off, something like that.

Make sure 25, like people know that it’s 25% off before anything else. Like people, anytime someone can save money, like that’s where their eye’s gonna go. And you want that to be part of it because if it’s just, if the header is just some fluff and then there’s a little bit part on the buy one, get one free or something, or half off or something.

Then you didn’t, then it’s probably not gonna work as well if it’s vice versa. Where the, there’s a huge spot where the deal is right in front of you. It smacks you in the face as soon as you’re there. So making sure that that’s the main focus.

But then also being true or using your tone of the company it’s nice to have all these fancy words and go through source and try and make it someone that you’re not, like if it’s off-brand, people are going to recognize that and you need to make.

The tone of any sort of Call-To-Action whether that should be just a header in a small paragraph and a button or anything like that. Make that who you are because in some cases like with paid advertisements, that’s your first impression that’s the first look that someone gets.

And if your product is sexy or your service is needed for that particular viewer. Making sure that call-to-action and everything are on brand is extremely important.

Thank you so much for sharing such valuable insights, and I’m pretty sure our audiences would’ve loved to hear from and pick you on the development and UI/UX design in general.

We would love to you of you for another detail and it has been a real pleasure having Thank you so much, Ryan.

Thank you for having me.

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