Podcast Episode

284 – Your Website Needs


Is there a plugin for that?

With more than 50,000 plugins in the WordPress repository, it’s hard to find the perfect one. Each week, I will highlight an interesting plugin form the repository.

For more great plugins, download my 50 Most Useful Plugins eBook.

Timeline Express allows you to create a beautiful vertical animated and responsive timeline of posts, without writing a single line of code. Sweet!

Pyramid of Website Needs

Clients believe they need websites. And you probably believe you need to build them. But you know what, no business really needs a website.

Businesses need more customers. (Or donors, fans, volunteers, or advocates.) Websites are just a means to an end. And with a WordPress website, you can control the entire experience.

In today’s episode we discuss something call The Hierarchy of Website Needs, a concept created by Brent Weaver

Think of a pyramid, like the Food Pyramid with layers building on each other.

Here’s the five levels.


  • Exists
  • Hosting
  • Security
  • Works
  • Load time is decent
  • Spam free
  • Error free


  • Good design
  • Updated
  • CMS/Platform
  • Analytics
  • Multi-Device


  • Customer Avatar
  • Target Market Focused
  • Quality Content
  • SEO On-Site
  • Conversion
  • Strategy
  • List Building
  • Nurturing


  • Lead Magnets
  • Paid Traffic
  • Audience Acquisition
  • SEO Off-Site
  • Content Marketing
  • Social


  • UX
  • Funnel Design
  • Offline Optimization
  • Measured ROI
  • Process Driven

Call To Action

  • Which level on the pyramid should you be focusing on for your website?

Full Transcript

Business Transcription is provided by GMR Transcription.

On today’s episode, we’re going to talk about the pyramid of our website needs right here on Your Website Engineer Podcast Episode No. 284. Hello, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Your Website Engineer Podcast. My name is Dustin Hartzler. And today, we’re going to talk about the pyramid of website needs. And I’ll get to what that is in just a few seconds. First, let’s run through the announcements this week. There are two announcements that I want to share with you today. The first one is a security released, Word Press 4.5.2. You want to make sure that you are updating your websites. It is a security release. That version of Word Press 4.5.1 and previous versions all the way back to Versions 4.2 are vulnerable to reflect an XSS using specially crafted URI’s through the media element JS and third party libraries used to upload media players.

It’s the library used for media players, excuse me. I know that doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. But what really makes sense is, hey, we need to go and update our sites. That is the only thing that’s fixed. It’s not going to break your websites. And this is a huge thing that we need to make sure that we’re updating. Most of us probably have the ability to turn on point releases, and it’s automatically updated. This came out on May 6, which was just a couple of days ago. So if you haven’t updated your site to Word Press 4.5.2, be sure to do that today. Another thing that I want to share with you today is something called Woo Commerce Connect. And it’s in alpha right now. And we’re looking for people to test it out. But this is something that I’ve had to keep a secret for quite a while.

But the last few months, automatic has been working behind the scenes to create a new version of Woo Commerce. And it’s going to be called Woo Commerce Connect. And it’s, essentially, going to be an easier way to set up Woo Commerce without having to go through all of the set ups of shipping modules and payment gateways and all of that good stuff. And so I have a link in the show notes to an article by one of my colleagues, Joey, and he’s actually on the team that’s developing the software. But, basically, they’re looking for people to help out test it. And you install it with Woo Commerce 2.6, which is in beta as well. And you kind of connect these two pieces. I’m doing some testing myself. And it’s really neat. And it just kind of walks through setting up Woo Commerce that much simpler. And without having to put in a lot of details right away and get confused with all of these screens.

If you’ve ever set up Woo Commerce before and tried to set up the tax information and then the shipping and then the payments, it can be very cumbersome very, very quickly. And Woo Commerce connect is our way of trying to make this an easier process, a simpler process. And it is all going to be open source, of course, just like automatic. There are standards and everything is open source. And it is something that’s going to be new, and it’s going to be a better way to use Woo Commerce if you don’t need a lot of customizations. If you still like to customize things and write code and all of that good stuff, then, there are still going to be the standalone versions of the plug-ins that you can go ahead and download and customize to heart’s content. So we’ve got two different paths. And right now, we’re in alpha, like I said, for Woo Commerce connect.
And in the few months following, we’ll get to beta. And then, you can try that out as well. So there’s a link in the show notes to check that out if you’re interested anymore. Today, in the is there a plug-in for that section, the one that I want to talk about today is called Time Line Express. And I have never seen a plug-in like this. I’ve seen it done in some themes before, but it’s an unusual plug-in. and What Time Line Express is it allows you to create a beautiful, vertical animated and responsive timeline of your posts without writing any code. And so you may have seen this before. Think about a line down the center of your website. And then, on left and right points, there are articles or there’s basically like the title and the excerpt of a post. And it’s like a timeline, essentially, with the newest posts on top, the oldest posts on the bottom. And as you scroll, it scrolls, it’s responsive.

It’s a cool, maybe not a practical thing to do, but it may be a neat way to organize your content if you are maybe doing an announcement. If you’re trying to do some sort of post that’s telling people where you’ve come from or how much closer you are to release or things like that. It’s a cool plug-in. That’s all I can really say for it. It’s got more than 9,000 downloads, so people are using it. And lots of features for custom, single announcements, you can use it for international users, so you can localize the date formatting. And you can do font awesome icons. You can specify an icon for each announcement. We’ve got animations on the scroll. And you, basically, set it up. It’s like a custom post type. And you just set it up. And I guess it just kind of works like you don’t really even have to do anything because it just pulls in your latest post. And so you can just go ahead and do that and give it a try.

If this is something that is interesting to you or something that you may need on your website. So that’s Time Line Express, and it’s free in the Word Press repository. Today, we are going to talk about the pyramid of needs that you have when you build a website. And this came off of two different websites that I was reading, and I heard a podcast episode on it. And it was title the Hierarchy of Web Needs. And I kind of like the word Hierarchy. I figured it was hard to say, so I didn’t want to stumble upon that the entire episode. So we’re going to talk about like a pyramid. And so think about a food pyramid, if you will, or with a big base on the bottom. And then, as we go smaller, things are less important or more important for later down the line, let’s put it that way. But the first article was written by a guy named Brent Weaver.

And it was written back in 2014. And the interesting part, at the very beginning of the article says clients believe they need websites. And you probably believe if you build websites. But he has a secret. He says no one actually needs a website. And he’s like when I learned this secret, it changed the game. I went from selling $2,000.00 to $3,000.00 websites to $20,000.00 to $30,000.00 projects. Almost exactly the same work, but he did 10 times the income. And he said his mind shifted, and he learned a basic truth. Clients need more customers or donors or fans or volunteers or advocates. And websites are just a means to an end. And so it’s not that people actually need a website. They need more customers. They need more people to come and spend money or buy their things or come to their event or whatever the business is doing.

They just need more people. And a website is a great way to do this. A website is a perfect way that we can control all things. If you posted, and you wanted everything on Facebook, you know how the Facebook algorithm works. And only 10 percent of the people that actually are following your page can actually see your updates, unless they pay you money, which that’s pretty silly. You don’t want to put all of your money on Twitter because you tweet, and then, 15 minutes later, nobody else has seen it because there are so many tweets going on. And so you don’t really want to put all of your eggs on these social platforms where they control what happens to your content. You want to build a website. And you want to make that apparent when it comes to telling people about it and when you’re building websites for people.

So the thing is, when we’re trying to sell a website, or even if we’re trying to tell somebody, even if we’re trying to just build a website for our friend, or if we’re trying to do a $10,000.00 website for other people, there are so many different levels of websites that are out there that we just need to kind of break it down today. And because not everybody needs that high, high, high end website, they don’t need a $50,000.00 website when they’re generating $4,000.00 a month in revenue or whatever. So there are five levels that I want to talk about today. And it’s kind of on the scheme of once we’ve tackled everything on the first level, now, we can start working on improving our second level, and then our third level. And it just kind of builds on each other. So the biggest one is the functional level, and that’s on the bottom.

And that is going to be that your website exists, that you’ve got hosting that’s different, you just have hosting. Your website is up and running. You’ve got security under control. Your website works. It like functions. If you sell things online, you can actually sell things online, and you can accept payments online. The low time is pretty decent. It’s not going to be the fastest website in the world. But it’s not like every page takes 15 seconds to load. And it’s error free and spam free. So that’s kind of like our functional level. That’s the bare minimum when it comes to websites. So we want to just make sure that it exists. We’ve got hosting. It loads decently well. There are no errors on the website. And it works. And it’s going to be hack free because we’ve got some security things in set in place. And so this is kind of like that bottom level.

If somebody really comes to you with a $500.00 website that they want built, these are the only things that we can focus on on that tier. That’s really the only things – we want to only do the things at the lowest level because these are the most important things. So it’s good enough. We’re not embarrassed by our website. Sure, it could be a lot better. We’re not scared to give our business cards to people because we think our website is absolutely terrible. It doesn’t work right. People can’t even purchase things. That’s not the case. The functional level is the level where things are working but, yes, they could be improved, and yes, they should be a little bit better. The next level is called reliable. And reliable is where we kind of up our game just little bit. We’re working on a good design.

So this would maybe be a refresh of a website you already have. Maybe we update things. Maybe we change from a static platform to some sort of content management system. Maybe we’re upgrading to Word Press or whatever that is. And then, on this reliable phase, we’re also going to make sure that we’re capturing data with analytics. We’re capturing data. We’re looking at trying to figure out who is coming to our website and where are they leaving and things along those lines. And then, we’re also going to, on this second tier, we’re also thinking about multi device. We’re thinking about what does our website look like on this size device? What does it look like on tablet? When somebody is watching TV, they see my ad. And oh, they’re going to browse and see what my website looks like on their tablet. What does that look like? Or if I’m in some sort of business where people are out and about all of the time looking up your company, what does it look like on a phone?

What did those pieces look like? So that’s when you focus a little bit more just kind of cleaning things up. And I think that I got to the reliable state after about maybe two years of running Your Website Engineer, maybe even three years when I started to think about how am I going to redesign my site. And it was like everything was working functionally. The hosting worked, the security was fine. It was error free. And then, I’m like, okay, I want to update this design. I want to do multi device. I’m going to up my anti just a little bit. So that’s the second level. So we’ve got functional. We’ve got reliable. And then, the next level is called understood. And this is taking it to the next level. This is probably where I haven’t quite gotten yet for my site. So I’ve got aways to go when it comes to following these steps myself.

But this is thinking about who is the customer avatar? Who is coming to my website? And let’s tailor the website specifically for that. One of the little points that you can think about is instead of saying welcome to my website or welcome to this site, or thanks for coming on your main page, maybe you say we rid your home of pests within 48 hours. We get rid of termites within 20 days or whatever. Make it very, very specific. I help you build a perfect website from scratch or whatever that is. That’s kind of like going from we have a website, and people can read things until now, we have a website that’s focused on this particular person. And we’re going to try to really coax them in to buy our product or do whatever. We can also, in this understood level, it’s all about learning about our people, the search engines, who is looking for our content, who is looking on our site, and what are they searching for when they’re on our site.

What type of list building things are we doing? What’s our quality content? What does that look like? What kind of blog posts are we writing? What kind of conversion rate do we have on our website? Is it market focused? Are we targeting a specific market? There are a lot of things to think about. And it’s probably one of the harder pieces. But you have to have that strong base. You have to make sure that you’ve got the functional and the reliable pieces. We’ve got a great design. It works well on mobile. Then, we can start tackling some of these bigger pieces of the puzzle. So once we’ve got that, now, we’re talking about the next step. The Tier 4 is called attraction. So now, we’ve already got this clear message based on our audience’s needs. Now, we’re going to try to leverage lead magnets.

We’re going to try to make those lead magnets something that people actually want. So now, we know Joe is the person that I’m targeting. He really likes to download these short e-books about how to do woodworking faster on the weekends or spend less time doing whatever that is. Like now, we can build lead magnets specific to that. And we can start nurturing our list. We can grow our lists. And we can get more people on our email list. And then, that kind of goes right along the lines with the content marketing piece. Once we know who those customers are, we’re starting to get very targeted customers or people signing up for our list. Okay, let’s do content marketing. Let’s market specifically to them. Let’s start paying for traffic. Let’s take out some ads because we know exactly who these people are that are our target audience.

Let’s pay some money to get our ads in front of them so then, they sign up, and they buy our product, our service, our online subscription, whatever that is. We do social. We do a lot more social things along those lines. We do SEO offsite. We’re trying to get our search engine optimization up so people can find us when they’re searching, when our target audience is searching. And then, we also do audience acquisitions. So we’re going to spend some money to get other people’s eyeballs. Whether that be go on other people’s podcasts or guest blogging or doing joint ventures with other people, that’s the part. The four step is when we start doing that sort of thing because we know that our website is built well. It’s solid. It works well. Everything is functioning properly. It’s got good design. It works on all devices.

We know who that avatar is. Our website is tailored towards that avatar. Now, we can start spending the money and getting those exact people that we’re looking for to come do our website and then let our website do the work. And then, the last piece of the puzzle, the last top tier, Tier 5, is called the performance. And that’s going to be user interface. That’s going to be funnel designs. That’s going to be offline optimizations. We’re going to start doing more monetization ROI. We’re going to do all kinds of the real data drive information. We’re testing, we’re refining, we’re doing AB testing. We know exactly how much it costs for one customer to come to our site, how long it takes a customer, once they come to our website. How many touch points do they need to have? How many emails do we need to send before they buy things?

That’s a fully optimized, online marketing strategy once we get to that point. So think about this when it comes to building this out or even just thinking about it as a website owner or a business owner. There is a lot that we can be doing. But we don’t want to be doing things out of order. We want to make sure that we aren’t – we don’t want to have this website that kind of works that, most of the time, you can’t actually purchase things from the website. But then, we’re spending money on lead magnets and getting people from Facebook to come to our website but when our website is not really working. Like it doesn’t really make sense. We want to make sure that we’re optimizing things in the correct order. So we’re getting our foundation really strong. And then, we can start working on and tweaking those bigger things.

So I’d say where I am, I’m on Tier 3. I’m in that understood like just trying to figure out exactly what people are looking for on my website, how we can continue to build like grow a list. What kind of quality content can I be creating, including these podcasts? Do I do videos? Do I do blog posts? Do I do guest posts? What do those things look like? And then, just really trying to hone in on what is the average person that’s coming to our website, what is that customer avatar, and what does that look like? And so that’s kind of what I wanted to share with you today. Just kind of this pyramid, this foundation of where we need to think about our web projects and where we need to kind of focus our time and energy and effort. And I know I am extremely guilty with this, or I’m very bad at this because I see that new, shiny object.

And it’s like I need to work on this because I’m doing this very badly. But then, I forget about these other pieces of the puzzle. It’s super interesting to me to go out and look for lead magnets or create lead magnets and try to get traffic to come to my website. But I know there are other pieces of the puzzle that just aren’t really working well for me right now. Or I haven’t spent a lot of time doing them. Like I’m all about making sure my website works right and doing the tinkering and tweaking of the actual code and the design and things like that. But then, some of this other stuff is like either over my head, or I don’t understand it, or I’m not really trying to do that. Again, I’m not trying to build a business here with what I’m doing because I’m just trying to educate people about how to use their websites, how to build websites better, how to teach people how to build websites.

That’s kind of my focus. And of course, with working in automatic, that takes up the majority of my time. And I just don’t have a lot of time to devote to all of these different pyramids and these levels on this pyramid. But I wanted to bring this to you today because I felt that it was important when I read it. I thought it was a great article to really think through and kind of challenge myself with that this is really important information. And it’s a good way to break down what a website looks like and just how you have to think about it and how we can’t have everything all at once. And another thing that I heard on this podcast was you want to make sure that whatever you really spend on your website, this was a neat point, whatever you spend on designing it, so building it, maybe you spend $5,000.00 on building a website.

They recommend you set aside and budget for 10 percent of that cost as ongoing monthly costs or monthly spends that you’ll have to spend to either pay for hosting, to work on your SEO strategy, to update things on your theme, to just kind of keep things on a maintenance mode for the most part. That’s not doing a lot of extra stuff. That was just very, very basic, low-end stuff. So if you spend $10,000.00 on your website, be sure to kind of set aside $1,000.00 per month or whatever. And I think that could be a good sell if you’re building websites for people that you could do that as well. Like your website is going to cost $10,000.00. But it’s going to cost about $1,000.00 per month to keep it going. That’s paying for all of the hosting. That’s keeping all things updated, whatever that looks like. That’s another neat way to do an up sell for people. All right. That’s going to wrap up this episode.

Thanks for tuning in, and thanks for sticking with me this week. Starting next week, next Wednesday, I will be almost to Spain by the time this podcast comes out. So I’ll be doing the next few podcasts from the road as I will be in Spain for a few weeks spending time. My wife is doing a study abroad program, and she’s teaching over there. So she is teaching, and then, I’ll be working. I found a cool [inaudible] [00:18:56], so I’ll be recording there and then sending these podcasts out weekly. I’ll never be late. I promise. We’ll talk to you again then. Take care. Bye-bye.

Leave a Reply