Let me bring you back to the time I created a sales page, my first paid web development project for my first-ever client, who has worked with me to this day, what I learned, and why she liked it and continued to work with me for several more projects after.
How I met Michelle
My client is Michelle Miller, the founder of Minty Made, a design studio based in Seattle. I got connected with her through Instagram when I almost finished college. The memory was vivid because it was a pivotal moment in my life.
At that time, I was browsing Instagram and it suggested accounts based on my interests in sustainable living and website creation. That’s where I found Michelle. One day she made content about a book that got me deeply curious, Sustainable Web Design. I looked it up and got hooked on it right away. It’s a beautiful combination of minimalism and web creation; it sounds exactly like what I wanted to pursue.
I explored the topic deeper, applied the concept to my WordPress projects, and shared my work on my Instagram account. Not long after, Michelle voice messaged me and invited me to have a discovery call. I was ecstatic by this surprise and thanked myself for posting my work on social media. It truly made a difference.
In the call, Michelle mentioned her upcoming online course, The Green Marketing Academy, and that she was looking for a WordPress developer who could make a website to promote the course and knew how to make the site sustainable. That’s me! And that’s what I do! It was a perfect fit. We stayed connected and waited for the right time.
What the project is all about
The Green Marketing Academy provides education about green marketing strategies for small businesses. The course is hosted on the Impact-Driven Community platform, and at that time, that course’s site was hosted on Squarespace.
Ultimately, Michelle wanted to move the entire website over to WordPress. But to start, she wanted me to begin building a course sales page on WordPress first and making it sustainable.
The project development process was simple. Michelle designed the page, provided brand assets, and created content. I set up a new website, built it based on the mockup design, loaded the content in, and optimized it for performance and web sustainability.
Main issues during the development
- The complexity of Elementor – Elementor is a page builder plugin used in WordPress. Although it’s a drag-and-drop type tool, it could get super complicated. Before this project, I had only surface-level skills using this tool. So, whenever I ran into issues, I took a lot of time researching and achieving what I wanted to do.
- The 500 Internal Server Error – This error scared me the most because it occurred the night before the website launch and blocked me from saving my work. The error itself is generic but after digging in, I found that the root cause of this error in this case is the PHP memory limit.
Elementor is a robust tool that needs a ton of memory and eventually, it hits the cap and paralyzes the whole operation. I followed an online tutorial to increase the memory limit and was able to wrap up my work.
The sales page design matched Michelle’s mockup design and we launched it on time! Regarding the web sustainability, as of 2022, the new sales page is 71% cleaner than the original Squarespace page; from 0.7g of CO2/view to 0.2g of CO2/view based on Website Carbon.
However, no matter how many ways I tried to optimize the page, due to the page length, the performance was not great. Based on GTmetrix, as of January 8th, 2024, the page received a grade of D, scoring 61% in performance and 68% in structure.
- It’s hard to make a sales page lean and performant. I understand that now. The nature of a sales page is resource-heavy and lengthy because its goal is to convince prospects to buy a program. Convincing someone is an art that requires several sections of testimonials, pictures, web copies, other visual components, and more. Maybe this is the time we learn to settle for a good enough result instead of the best one—as long as it serves our users.
- Troubleshooting technical issues is constant. This truth makes me the most nervous because I don’t see myself as a highly technical person who loves tackling problems. However, the more WordPress projects I take on, the more I realize there’s no way to avoid it. I have to confront it and get better at it.
- Collaboration is hard to master but so needed. Considering how much I love working alone, my collaboration skills suck. I’m always nervous and sweaty before Zoom meetings and stumble a lot during my presentations or discussions. However, I try to remind myself that without collaborating with others, the work wouldn’t get anywhere. People also don’t have all day to read long emails. Similar to troubleshooting, I have to confront this and improve myself.
- Sharing your work in public can bring surprising opportunities. I got two website development projects and three retainer clients through Michelle. She’s a wonderful friend. Without sharing my work and showcasing my interests on social media, none of this would have happened.
Let me leave you with Michelle’s testimonial for this project, including the whole GMA website I built for her later.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Gift on several website projects. Not only were the websites she created developed and optimized efficiently, she was able to do a great job of matching the developed site to the mockups I had designed. Communication with Gift was always timely and professional and she also clearly set expectations throughout the entire project, which I very much appreciated. If you are looking for someone who is skilled, efficient and is well-versed in sustainable web design practices, I highly recommend hiring Gift. You will not be disappointed!”
Michelle Miller – Owner & Creative Director of Minty Made and Founder of The Green Marketing Academy
Take a look at the sales page and tell me what you think!