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Why I Spent $25,100 On A New Blog Design

After 4 years, I finally redesigned my blog.

And I spent more than $25,000 doing it.

Here’s why I did it (and of course what you can learn from my experience).

They Thought I Was A Con Artist…

Someone I know, a friend of my friend, asked my friend “Is what Derek does legit?”

Let’s forget about the fact that I knew this person for years… When they asked, they were genuinely curious. Is Social Triggers and “Derek Halpern” a scam?

I know. Ridiculous. I could have taken it as an insult, but I didn’t.

Here’s why:

Just a few months prior, I was being considered for an article in a major mainstream publication. An editor nixed the idea, warning the writer to be careful citing Derek (ME) as an expert.

And a few months before that, one of my employees was talking to a friend about Social Triggers. The friend had the same reaction. “Is this a scam?”

What’s going on here?

I mean, you’ve been a reader here for quite some time. You know what they’re saying is not true. That’s why you’re subscribed after all – even if you saw the old site.

So just what is going on?

And more important: why do people judge what you do with such skepticism? And how can you prevent the same thing from happening to you?

Keep reading…

I Looked Like A Scam

I’ve got 200,000+ subscribers who believe in what I do, and they know that I’m here to help, and that I’m “legit.”

They’ve joined me for live events, saw my helpful YouTube videos (which have reached millions around the world), and had a beer with me at one of my meet-ups.

They know that I give away 99% of my content, and when I do sell something, it’s something I truly believe in.

But the people who were outside of my community – in some cases, people who knew me personally but didn’t know Social Triggers – thought I was a scam.

Why?

BECAUSE LOOK AT THIS HOME PAGE.

It says NOTHING.

You see some random guy promising you something you want on the internet…

…and that looks like a scam.

It gets worse, too.

Last month I was having lunch in West Palm Beach. I met a struggling dog trainer who said they weren’t able to find enough clients. She then mentioned a website where she could post her services, but her husband interjected: “Yea, and that’s how they get you! They let you post your services after you buy $25.00 in credits. I know how they make money. Those websites are such scams!”

I’m unfamiliar with the site, and whether or not the site could actually help people. But I also know the husband was just as unfamiliar with it. The only thing he knew about it was that it charged money to get listed – AND THAT’S WHY IT’S A SCAM!

I tried reasoning with him.

But it didn’t matter.

His mind was made up.

And when someone makes their mind up, it’s almost impossible to change it.

That was happening on my site. People would stumble on it, think it was a scam, and bam. I’m done. And they’ll never trust me again.

But all hope is not lost…

There’s something I call credibility triggers. They are little things that make people think, “Yep, this is the real deal!”

And if I had them on my site, I could combat that gut-level defensive reaction.

But I didn’t have them. I mean, I had them, I Just didn’t have them on my site. And that’s the main reason why people were so skeptical.

So, I needed a new web design and to use these credibility triggers on my site.

You should too.

The best part?

You don’t need a large audience. Or a lot of revenue. Or a New York Times best-selling book. You just need to add these credibility triggers – and you’re set.

First…

The Tug-Of-War Between Trust And Skepticism

You must put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Especially if you’re selling products and services online like I do.

Here’s why:

Over at the New Yorker, James Surowiecki wrote “con artists are greedy hucksters who sell us dreams that never come true.”

And he’s right.

Con artists sell dreams. And they milk people for everything they’ve got. They lead with something we want – like money, love, health, power, or success – and offer to sell it to us for a price.

And that’s how scams work. Here’s what you want. Pay me and I’ll help you get it.

But is pushing someone to realize their dreams, and offering to show them how to do it for a price, a big con?

Yes, it’s a dream, but is it always a scam?

Not really…

If you want to speak in front of large audiences, a coach can help you with that. How will that coach get your attention? He’ll make a promise and offer to show you how for a price.

Your kid is bad at math, a tutor can help with that. How will that tutor get your attention? Don’t fail math! Hire me!

That’s how you get attention and persuade people to buy.

And that’s the problem.

I was in an industry that looked like a scam because the same tactics the scammers use to get attention are the same tactics successful businesses MUST use to get the same attention.

So, even if you’re the bright spot in a murky industry, you must be aware that your industry colors you the color that your prospects see…

…and luckily credibility triggers help you stand out in the right way.

How Credibility Triggers Help You Build Trust Online

Have you ever had someone judge the work you did in a negative way? And later felt, “Well, that was completely unjustified. They don’t even know me!”

Well, you didn’t give those people a REASON to believe you.

Below are things you can start doing to build the trust.

And then I’ll show you how I implemented each of them on my new website that cost $25,000+.

Credibility Trigger #1: Show Off Your Personality

If you watch my YouTube videos, you’ll know that I don’t take things TOO seriously.

Heck, if you ever saw my initial Social Triggers trailer, you’ll see that I led with a bunch of funny bloopers.

The problem was, you didn’t see any of that on my site.

You occasionally saw me post a funny picture of myself, but that’s it.

And that’s a mistake.

Personality persuades. Especially NOW. Every big box store feels like cookie cutter copies of one another. Maybe they have different products, and maybe they have different look and feels, but it’s all the same. It’s BORING.

And people don’t remember boring.

I always say that “What stands out gets remembered. What blends in gets forgotten. Go do something different.” It’s what’s best for you – and your business.

And my old website had NONE of that.

It was just a plain white design with a stock photography image of a brain. Sure, the content was memorable. But when new people came to my site and made a snap judgment about whether or not to trust me, they never even gave the content a chance. They saw the design and slammed the back button.

However, in my new design, I knew I wanted to show off my personality. I wanted people to know, “Wait a second. This guy is weird. But he’s human. And he’s saying some smart things. I should keep reading…”

Quick Tip For You:

Don’t overdo it. I’m a New Yorker, and I’m actually louder, and curse a whole lot more in person. But you’ll never see me curse on my site. Why? No one wakes up and says, “I only buy from people who curse,” but there are plenty of people who say, “I’ll never buy from someone who curses.”

The goal here is this: When you show off your personality, show off things about your life that you believe your customer will identify with – or aspire to. If you’re a business consultant, don’t talk about how unorganized you are all the time. It detracts from your credibility. Yes, you want to be transparent, but don’t be painfully transparent.

Credibility Trigger #2: Your Clothing Matters

For a while I did the whole casual thing on Social Triggers. It was working fine, and all. But one day I got the bright idea to start “split testing” what I wore to speaking engagements.

I tried dressing down like I did in my videos. I tried dressing up in a full suit. I then tried some clever mix of the two. What did I find?

When I dressed down, people would look at me as some loud New Yorker punk. I mean, look at him. He’s younger than me, and he’s wearing a t-shirt.

The truth was, I WAS a loud New Yorker, but I had something to say. And it was important.

And then, when I dressed up, people stopped acting like that. I was no longer “digging myself out of the punk kid stereotype,” and instead, I started at the top.

Plus, who doesn’t want to look the most interesting man in the universe?

A photo posted by Derek Halpern (@derekhalpern) on

Now I’m not saying clothes did everything. It’s also possible that the clothing made me act differently (maybe more confident?), and that’s okay too. The end result was still positive.

So I knew that I wanted to show off the NEW clothes. But there was also a strategic reason why I did this…

I talk a lot about building an online business. How do other people present themselves in this space?

Long story short: they show off how little they work, and how they wear t-shirts everyday.

And yes, some of our customers want this. But clothing can also be a differentiation mechanism.

Remember, people view this industry as a scam, and it’s not always a scam. There are legitimate people who do great work. And I knew if I wanted to differentiate myself from other people, I didn’t want to look like they looked.

Quick Tip For You:

It’s not about dressing up, or dressing down. Or wearing expensive clothes or cheap clothes. It’s about putting yourself in your customer’s shoes. What do they think about you? How do they group you in with your competition? You could say, “I don’t care what other people think about my clothes,” but if you’re in business, you should care. Especially if you care about your results.

Credibility Trigger #3: Show Off Endorsements

When you have credible endorsements, it helps build trust in the eyes of your prospects and web visitors.

And my last site had NO endorsements.

I mean, I guess I had one. I had a quote from Chris Brogan.

Here’s what’s funny though…

People would ask me, “I love how you feature that quote from Chris Brogan on your homepage. That really must increase conversions!”

And the truth was, it probably didn’t.

A lot of people who visited had no idea who Chris Brogan was.

Why have the quote?

Well, when I first got started, one of my first ever conversion videos was with Chris Brogan, and I knew he was going to send a bunch of people my way. Hence, I wanted a quote on my site from Chris.

And then I just never changed it.

Here’s the lesson:

When you’re adding credibility triggers – like endorsements – to your site, you need to ensure those endorsements MEAN something to your prospects.

If they don’t mean something, you might as well not have them.

“But Derek, what if I was never featured in a magazine and I don’t have a quote from someone who means something?”

Quick Tip For You:

Get a testimonial from someone who you think is very similar to your ideal audience, and feature that. Use the Perfect Testimonial framework I set forth right here.

And then what will happen is this:

You’ll connect with people, not on a “authority logo,” or “authority quote,” level, but instead, you’ll connect with people in a much more powerful way: I help people just like you.

But I know you’re still wondering, “Why did this cost $25,000?”

I remember telling someone about how I spent $310 on a haircut, and their first reaction was to think, “Your hair doesn’t look that good!”

And I’m sure people are going to say that about this design too.

That’s the whole tug-of-war between scams/motivation/money.

But here’s the deal:

I’ve hired a handful of people to redesign Social Triggers in the past…

…and none of them delivered something I was in love with. So I quietly put their design in a folder, never to be seen again.

You get what you pay for.

But this time I actively recruited top designers. I went to websites that featured work from designers that won awards. And I picked out people who had a great eye for design…

I then interviewed each of them. I described my project, listened to what they had to say, and then I patiently awaited their proposals.

I didn’t go to any of these designers with a budget in mind. I went in with the hope of finding the right person for the job after I had so many failed attempts in the past.

(That’s a waste of money. And a waste of time).

That’s when I realized this was going to be much more expensive than I had previously anticipated.

It wasn’t going to cost $2,000, or $3,000, or $10,000. To get everything I wanted it was going to cost $20,000+.

Heck, one proposal came back and they quoted more than $100,000 – and I thought: “HA! RIDICULOUS!”

Funny how that works, right?

And thus, here’s my new design.

I ended up working with a guy named Brian Hoff and a photographer named Eric Michael Pearson (he’s the same guy who does all the ST videos).

They did a fantastic job.

Anyway…

Feel free to explore the site. If you find anything wrong with it let me know.

Don’t Panic: If You’re Unhappy With Your Web Design, It’s Okay… Seriously

Even though the web design I had made people think I was a scam today, that doesn’t mean it was a mistake.

When I first got started, this home page made sense. I was looking to find my first few thousand loyal fans…

…and if my design turned people off, I told myself, “Well, I don’t need those people.”

Plus, it converted real well.

Why would such a spammy looking site convert real well?

It’s all about how people found me in the first place.

At the time, I was getting featured on blogs all over the internet, and those blogs had readers, readers who were comfortable reading advice from random bloggers – and I was just another random blogger.

These people were accustomed to signing up for things with their email address, so nothing about what I was doing was weird. Or scammy.

Conversion Tip: This is why I hate when people ask me “What’s a good conversion rate?” The source of traffic matters more than the color of your buttons.

But I wanted to keep growing.

And I noticed something strange when I began experimenting with new traffic sources – things like mainstream media, landing book deals, speaking at dental conferences. I felt like I was digging myself out of a hole from the outset. Everyone thought what I did was scammy. And the design was the reason why.

It was no surprise. I wrote the article about why design was king a few years ago and it appears it’s still true today.

But I still denied it.

“I don’t need a web design,” I said. “This works great!”

So I ignored it.

I know many of you may just be getting started with your business, and you may be thinking, “Well, it sounds like I need a new web design!”

Not so fast.

The other day I saw someone confess that they were thinking about spending their only $4,000 they had on a web design. And they were wondering if it was a good idea.

People then argued about the cost of web design.

“THAT’S TOO EXPENSIVE.”

“THAT’S CHEAP! DO IT”

“DON’T DO IT. BUY MY THING INSTEAD.”

Sigh.

Many people glazed over the real problem. The problem was that this person was about to spend their last $4,000 on a website…

My scammy-looking design worked for Social Triggers for the first 4 years to the tune of millions of dollars. THEN I wanted a redesign.

And that’s good news for you.

You might look at your site right now and think it needs to be updated. You might think you need new photography. You might think you need custom graphics…

…but none of that matters in the beginning.

Get your business right first. Then go make sure you look good doing it.

In the meantime, take the overarching strategy I shared here – and the credibility triggers – and look to tweak your existing design to make small improvements as you focus on what really matters.

Your business.

Business Tip: Don’t compare what you do to people who have been doing it much longer than you. You need to compare yourself to how other people start. And as you can see, we all started with bad web designs.

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88 comments Leave a comment
Sareeka Gupta

New design is good. The design is clean, simple and elegant. The design of blog or website can really change the perception of people.

Paris Tuzun

I really dig your new website. As a designer myself I’ve heard of Brian Hoff before, he is an excellent designer and excellent designers like him charge a lot of money but as they say, you need to spend money to make money. A $5,000 website would cost you a lot in the long term not bringing enough ROI and it would possibly damage your reputation. I have a few suggestions: On the homepage in the “Blog Latest” section the circles that contain blog post excepts should be clickable. I hovered over the circle thinking the text was clickable but it wasn’t. Making the entire circle clickable would improve usability. Also, when the text exceeds a certain amount of characters the “Read” link comes on top of the text. One other thing is your navigation menu. The word “Menu” looks a little awkward, normally the hamburger menu is on the top left side or top right side and you also have two “about” links. Other than that everything looks great.

Phil Parisis

This post took some balls my friend.. I have been a long time lurker/stalker of yours and at the beginning i did feel like you had been repacking (used car salesman) trying to get into the snake-oil marketing game. One day I was reading maybe an email or a blog post of a possible failure/lesson on a launch. You went missing for a few weeks then i started noticing the change.
25K is not on a blog design… its actually your personal brand that had the make over.
Well done…

Dewi

I am not sure about the price, but the new design certainly is amazing. It has got a print feel to it. I like the choice of colors too.

Octarendra.com

Its damn, good, actually I’m one of the people who thought that your design is very old, but then again I saw lot of other blogger quoting you, endorsing you..
so I say: its about damn time πŸ˜‰

Anna LovellaVelasquez

hi, Derek. I’m very new to this blogging and internet marketing thing but I recently learned from Steve Scott that I need to be very clear on what my Most Wanted Response is for my site. If it’s to get people to sign up then I must give people every opportunity to sign up. I’m amazed to see clearly that your most wanted response is get people signing up to your email list…your opt-in it’s everywhere! And you give out several freebies with it. I just joined your list. I was very interested with getting your ebook.. And I got it. Thanks. However, I noticed when I wanted to download another one of your freebie.. It asked me to opt-in every time. Don’t you have a filter for anyone who’s already subscribed to not go through the whole process again..every time?

Southern Festival Living

Derek, you share some good nuggets here. Your web design looks great. I belive if anyone read your approach in articles, that would be able to see.

Youi give us something to think about and institute.

Charity Nicole

The last part is so true– it’s so intimidating to look at people in the internet marketing space when you first get started with only a hundred dollars or so, and they have flashy websites with videos that cost a ton of money to make and a customer service team, etc. I started with only ME and I sure didn’t have a lot of money. When I found someone to teach me how to bootstrap and still be profess and amazing, she resonated so deeply with me and I’ll probably buy all of her products for forever… {Star Khechara btw} Anyway, I like the new design A LOT and love your explanation. I love learning your techniques. We don’t have to be perfect to be successful! Thank you for sharing! πŸ™‚

Myra

I love the website the only thing I think should get some more attention is your menu bar. I think it should be a bit more bold like the rest of this site. The site is bold and full of confidence but the menu bar is a little insipid compared to the rest.

I’m not talking about the word Menu that should change as well. I am talking about the entire Menu bar. πŸ™‚

Apart from that I can see why this site has cost you what you paid for it and it is a job well done!

Anthony

Well Derek…..it worked I have been on your mailing list since you started and I have seen you grow and transform. The new site is fantastic and elevates your professional look and feel no end. Loved your post too.
Thanks
Anthony

Koen

The things with design these days is that you can’t do without a contemporary design. The reason is the extreem level of design free apps as Google, Facebook and others offer. People are used to more quality than they were four years ago. And most people judge things in a glance by it’s cover. In Holland, photography is much cheaper. But i calculaded you still need 3K to get the job done (that includes buying the right clothes). I know this because as Derek I understand the online game has changed; you need to show yourself and your personality. One last thing: i recommend people to start with reading books about design so you understand what works and why. I am not a designer but as a online personality I need to be on top of my game. Plus, it’s a lot of fun!

PS: Derek you should remove the old design banners though. They don’t match anymore…

Thaoski

New website looks great! I’m one of those that thought the original website was a bit of a scam. But I was referred over from Marie Forleo so knew it couldn’t have been. Loving the new design!

Dawn

Hi Derek,
Great post, I liked the part about your appearance. As an Image Consultant and teaching clients on there Professional Presence or Executive Presence, appearance happens to be one of 4 pillars. You may think it shouldn’t matter but it does. Pay attention to when you walk into a place of business how that person behind the desk is dressed. What is your instant reaction? Does that person represent your business well or do they need a makeover?
That person is the face of the company as you are the face of your blog, or your company. First Impressions matter.

Christopher

I’m a big fan of your $310 haircut milestone and the subsequent improvements, and I’ve often showed the video to people I feel could be more effective and reach a larger audience by doing the same.

Having watched your videos, and experiencing your sense of humor, the new photos feel natural and very “you”. Humor and all.

However for a newcomer making a quick judgment, the new photos show a guy in a shiny suit, sporting a blingy watch, smugly looking out from a background that evokes a police lineup.

So, speaking of triggers… I’m curious about how this matches your stated goal of increasing credibility for new visitors?

Esta

I love the new website. Looks awesome.

Muhammad Gohar

The new design is pretty awesome and clean. really loved it.
However it is a bit slow. test it on the google page speed.

Effy

Congratulations on your new website, Derek!

2 points, one about your old site, one on the new:

New site – I really love your new design, but you asked “If you find anything wrong with it let me know.” Perhaps this was intentional, but it’s strange to me to see “about” in “menu” and also right next to it. Why do you need this twice?

Old site – Totally agree about the Chris Brogan thing. At first, it impressed me – a vaguely familiar author, who was on the NYT list. But after months went by without you adding to it or changing it, it gave off the impression that this was the only testimonial you could get. It didn’t turn me away obviously, but maybe for others…

Bella

Lookin’ sexy!

New site is awesome and fun.

Cheers!

Andrew

So…if I purchase Thesis 2.0 I’ll get the updated Social Triggers theme? Sorry, bad joke…congrats on the new site, sir! It is truly beautiful…great to see the trajectory of your career…

Miranda

Hey Derek,

I’m a designer and it is a daily struggle for me to convey to my clients the value of good design.

Good design and branding leads to credibility. Sure you can go make your free website on many different platforms. Hey, you can even design it yourself, but it wont make you money and it won’t be good for your business.

There is a awesome book called Evil by Design written by UX designer Chris Nodder that talks about the good and bad in design and how the big companies are designing a website user experiences to make you like more, trust more and buy more.

Thanks for a great post.

Cheers, M

Jan Dirk

Derek, there’s one thing you do best and that’s connecting with your audience. You actually take the time to listen to them and even reply to them in person. That’s fricken awesome!

You can almost say that’s Credibility Trigger #4: Connect with your audience

That’s what makes you a real person for me.

Thanks dude the post was great

Switch

This in my inbox just reminds me: there are some things from you I need to reread. Re new design, your reasons make sense. People are used to getting everything on the net from 5 to 15 $, that’s probably why this sum sounds outrageous to many. But even if someone spends 0 dollars on design, he’ll either spend too much time on it (or worrying about it) or will leave money on the table because of it. Don’t ask me how I know that.
Btw your old design never looked scammy to me. But that’s probably because your content was recommended by a great marketer. And I love minimalism in general.

Naveen | planetnaveen

Hey Derek,

While I applaud your new design and looks, I don’t agree with your statements that your old design looked ‘scammy’? No way. Okay, it was minimalistic, but was easy on eyes and made it effortless to consume the content and hey how can we forget the fact you were the guy who brought ‘feature box’ to the glory πŸ™‚

However, I couldn’t agree more with the fact that when we work with BIG clients, our websites needs to reflect our personality, it should testify our image. I can feel that your website looks more ‘complete’ now and I am sure your new design is sure to strengthen your brand.

3 cheers from my side !

Ryan

Derek your new pop up is offensive. I’m already a part of your newsletter and just want to view your site and your spamming me in the face and then forcing me to click “I reject the ebook”.

For someone who dresses classy you could at least show some class and some respect to your readers. It’s super rude

Geniece

Hi Derek – love the pictures on your new site. Even though your past website wasn’t half as cool as this one, credibility was never an issue for me. A friend told me about you 2 years ago and I’ve been reading your blog ever since. When I got the email on your new site design, I was excited to see what it would look like. Again, love it!!

Ron Sherbert

Hey Derek,

The site looks great, but more importantly is the value you give people, keep up the good work.

David Kadavy

If you had hired a designer who charged merely – let’s say $5,000 – then you would be hiring a poor businessperson. If they know how to design a website that increases your business hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars, they have to be smart enough to charge what they’re worth.

This is, of course, chicken-and-egg. For a good designer to be smart enough to grow your business that much, they have to be smart enough to charge what they’re worth. How could you trust such an important component of your business to a businessperson who doesn’t understand value?

(“Designer,” as most people think of it, sounds like too restrictive of a word. In reality, such a person needs to understand much more than making an attractive website with the right technology. They have to understand your business, business goals, and how to achieve those goals.)

Congrats on a great new design!

Jasper

I love the new design. But designers from the Philippines would have delivered equally beautiful results for less πŸ˜‰

I do agree that a professionally done website can get you more leads and this is what I tell prospective clients when they question my pricing. But I am also reminded about a project I did not too long ago. I made a good looking site for one client who then got more leads after our launch. But a few months later, I was checking out the company’s reviews on another website, I came across comments like: their website looked really nice so we got their service but our experience with them was bad. So, my point is, no matter how good your website design is, if you don’t match it with equally great service, business will not prosper.

I’m glad that your website’s design now matches the quality of your service. I hope you will finally start getting those deals, and the approval of people who once thought you’re spammy.

    Derek Halpern

    Everyone is an expert on design, and how much it should cost, apparently. Unfortunately, in every single case…

    …when someone says, “Well, I could do that for $3,000 or $4,000. You overpaid!” They are 100% wrong.

    And it proves one thing to me: they would have been the wrong fit for the job.

    Here’s why:

    This website centers around photography. Just to get started with doing proper photography, you need to rent a studio. Where I live, that ranges from $1000 to $3000 a day.

    Yes, JUST TO WALK INTO THE STUDIO.

    That doesn’t include the photographer. That doesn’t include the person who shapes the web design around the photography. That doesn’t include the development of the site. That doesn’t include the internal testing that took place by several people to ensure the site worked liked it was supposed to work.

    Then you also need the ability to turn that photography , web design, and everything else into a workable design.

    This includes finding the right designer, the right developer, and of coures, testing it (as I said above).

    Now, there’s one more important thing: Social Triggers is a live website. With 4 years of legacy stuff built into it. That means you also need to worry about the conversion. You can’t just upload a theme and be like, “YEP THIS WORKS!”

    You need to account for everything else on the site.

    But apparently I’m the guy who’s dumb enough to pay 25k for a design :-).

    Or maybe…

    The people who think they can do it for less underestimate the project at hand.

    I interviewed 15+ designers before I settled on this one. This wasn’t some random thing I just decided to blow money on for no reason.

    Instead of thinking it was overpriced, you should be thinking, “Wait a second. Derek probably knows what went into this a lot better than I did – and he’s clearly thinking the price is justified. He must know something I don’t know.”

    One day.

    Apparently not today.

    But one day ;-).

Jules

I prefer people in jeans and t-shirt, if they sound like they know what they are talking about. Suits don’t equal trust to me.

    Derek Halpern

    Everyone has a preference. I chose mine. And I explained why.

Ray Edwards

The new design is elegant, simple, and reflects your personality to a tee. The photography is iconic. Well done, Derek!

Enrico

Hi Derek,
you spend 25,000 $ but your logo, favicon and other img aren’t retina ready… πŸ˜‰

    Heilene

    Yeah, to get this retina ready will probably cost an additional $4000.

Trixi

Very nice new website. But who is the guy who has a magician tux with the heavy wristwatch at the top right of this page? Just kidding…

Should the “Menu” menu show for a normal browser? The name “Menu” is a bit weak.

    Derek Halpern

    Good point, will look into it.

NATASHA

The new site is great Derek, as is the photography. I really like it and it looks like a 25k plus site, its great
I am going to write a blog post about your site. A lot has happened since we met at your event in October. I am now doing web design and publicity for high profile individuals here in the UK, ie tv presenters, which brings together my news/publicity/press agency background and digital/internet marketing expertise (not as expert as you LOL!). With all my clients, I INSIST they invest in a photoshoot. Not only can we then use their photos to drive publicity afterwards as they are well known and we always do a great set of photos with an unexpected twist a bit like your your shoot, that showcases them in a diferent way to say their TV news reading personality. BUT also because great sites lead with great photos just like yours. It really makes the site more high impact and brings credibility.
Anyway, you are right as usual and the new site is great! LOVE!

Reelika

I really like this new and clean design. Let me confess something. When I first got started with my online business and blog (around 7 months ago), I had never heard about you. Then my mentors started recommending you and talking about you. So I finally visited your site. But I didn’t understand what the site was about and I didn’t sign up and I am not sure whether I even scrolled down to read anything. But when I happened to see one of your videos, I was like wow!!! And I got the point and now I am a regular follower of you. BUT I was so mad at myself not starting following you sooner when I first came by! Everything you do here is so valuable. Thanks so much πŸ™‚

Abiola

I LOVE the new site, Derek.

It looks light, airy, and something about it just feels “freer.”

Congrats!

Andres Abello

I love the new design. It’s simple and to the point the way websites are built nowadays.
Now, the price does not make sense to me. I understand the effort and all that but you still got a wordpress website.
Is the admin panel customized as well?
What kind of security measures does it have, besides the captcha in the login section?
Also, $25,000 and not have a CDN? Unless jsDelivr is considered one.
And they even used bootstrap. Nothing custom made for 25,000 dollars?
You should have gotten at least a custom CMS with a custom framework specifically for you for that price.

great design!
Thank you for all the valuable information.

    Derek Halpern

    It makes plenty of sense, and no it doesn’t have any of that. This required custom photography. That’s expensive. It also required a conversion from an old design to a new design for a high trafficked site. That takes time and money too.

      Andres

      I understand and again AWESOME WEBSITE.

    natasha

    the price is probably more about the particular set of expertise that the people who built it have, and the cost of their expertise and experience. If they can price themselves that way and people pay, then it doesn’t matter whether its a custom site or not. It’s more about that is the price to get these people to do your site

Rich Brooks

Derek,

I can’t speak about how many conversions you got w/Chris Brogan’s quote, but I will tell you that it worked on ME. I didn’t know who you were when I discovered your site, but having a quote from Chris gave you instant credibility in my book.

Enough credibility for me to give you the benefit of the doubt, and read your stuff. And then you won me over for good.

In any case, congrats on the new design, and best of luck!

Hannah

The quality of your videos didn’t match the quality of your old blog. I wouldn’t have thought you were a total scam, but I certainly would’ve had credibility preconceptions if I had visited your old blog before watching any of your videos. Your videos are great and you need a great blog design to accompany that otherwise I personally would think there was something slightly amiss. Loving the new design!

P.s The author, email and url boxes above the comment box… the title saying which they are isn’t displaying, it just displays three empty text boxes.

Shelley

The new site is beautiful. Great job!

Dustin W. Stout

As someone who considers himself to be a particularly picky and hyper-critical designer I will say this is a job well done Derek! My kudos to your designer and photographer!

I’ve only seen a few things that I would have done differently (mostly usability stuff) but aesthetically I think it’s spot-on! Great colors, great typography and a no-nonsense layout that focuses on content.

Steve

Glad to see you’ve got Visual Website Optimizer code on the whole site this time around (rather than just A/B testing your sales pages when programs were open).

Loved your rant post railing against A/B testing a bit ago (not bc I agreed with your take (I 100% disagree) but bc it was a perfect example of one of the types of posts you taught me in BTC) but glad to see you’re now “on the winning side” by always working to improve your conversion rates : )

Bryce Eldridge

Loved your points. Very well written and I appreciate that you talk about starting with what you have and growing from there. Clearly it’s about great content and then proper aesthetics. Love the new redesign as well.

Mary Kathryn

Right on the Money. (pun intended)

Jessica Riverson-Permission to Charge

Derek, you made some brilliant points as usual. To position ourselves we need those credibility triggers, as you call them. And at the same time we must get proof of concept in a business idea and business model before sinking 4k into a website. I built my business coaching business by first getting clients off line and creating results. I had a “Good enough” website and brand and then years later I rebranded and I jump started my success even further that way. I tripled my income and better opportunities came. I think you sharing your story about why you did this and how you chose the right timing is something entrepreneurs truly need to understand. Thank you for sharing. I always learn something or get a brilliant reminder from you!

Natalie Sisson

Great summary on why you redesigned Derek and I think it looks hot and much more you – most sophisticated and grown up which is essentially what you’ve done on your business journey.

I also agree though that quality content trumps all and that’s what draws people back to you time and time again – now you have the design to match it!

David

Honestly, tho… I feel bad about the purple links getting dumped! But the new hot-orange is even sexier πŸ™‚ Props to your designers putting the ST back in style…

Joseph

Derek,

As always, your content is helpful, pertinent and easily applicable. I recently redesigned my site as well, after taking a long, objective look at it. It simply wasn’t converting! As a part-time photographer who also has a day job, I want people to take me as seriously as I take my clients! Part of that was having a more professional looking website, but one which was easy to navigate and easily led them precisely where I wanted them : my contact forms. I think I’ve succeeded because the months of March and April brought me sales which surpassed the entire preceding year! I was blown away and struggling to keep up!

I REALLY love your new site design and the money that you spent really shows! The photography, the “what I can do for you” section, the “featured on” section as well as the about me page really destroys any perception one might have that you’re a “scammer”! Seriously, though, it’s a great design.

One thing you may want to look into: I accessed the site with Mozilla Firefox and when I went to comment, the three boxes (Name, email address and website) just show up as fields with no indication of what should go there. When I open the site in Chrome, they show up just fine, but for some reason do not appear in Firefox.

Steve

Love love love this post this is exactly what I’ve needed. I launched my blogs year ago which is still a part time gig. But I’ve been thinking it lacks personality and credibility, I designed the site myself with the help of a genesis theme but have been thinking its a bit stake and lacks character! Thanks so much for this. I think I kind of new these things but this has confirmed it for me.
PS Love your new look photos are stunning but I have one gripe dare I say it, with a whole new site design and after dropping 25k on it why not redesign new cta’s in your blog side bar that match your new design and size?

Lauren

I loved what you said about clothing- it isn’t superficial to care about how we look and it is good for business!

Perhaps the clothes do make the man! The bow tie pic is amazing

Ebong

I was on that thread where the woman wanted to spend her last $4,000 for a website. You were totally right. So many fail to see the importance of having your business model right and generating income regardless of the site. Thanks for bringing this to light!

Jo Halliday

Love the videos! awesome πŸ™‚
And in this fast moving world we need to constantly update!

Michael

“Last month I was having lunch in West Palm Beach. I meta …”

Missing a space brother. I’m not normally a grammar nazi but that one jumped out at me. Perhaps because this post is about a higher level concept and suddenly I’m trying to envision meta dog services.

Benjamin Houy

Your new design looks great. Seeing it actually made me feel bad about the design of my website, so I changed it…But I’m no designer so it was terrible. I spent a whole day trying to make it look good. I was upset.

At the end, I decided to choose a theme I like, use my brand colors and font, and focus on creating and promoting content.

Design is important, but it’s useless if there is nothing beyong the great design.

Spencer Goldade

I’ve been a corporate web designer for one of Canada’s largest telecommunications companies, a freelance designer for numerous startups and mid to large enterprise companies, and am now a designer for an awesome multi-national agency, Post+Beam.

I can tell you from experience that $25K is not a lot for a [good] website. In fact, it’s pretty cheap. A lot of people think this is expensive, often this may be because they’ve been exposed to cheap template websites, freelancers and students who will work for cheap, and so on. The case with those though, is that you usually get what you pay for, and people may not understand the value of good design or even what makes good design.

Almost anyone can slap something together. That’s not going to help you achieve [insert metric that’s important to you here]. Whether you want more sales, more visitors, more subscriptions, you name it, then a smart design and user experience team are going to tailor an experience and design particularly to solve your problems. That’s not where a good design ends though. From there you should be iterating. Is it actually doing the thing we need it to do? Is it doing it well? How can it be improved? Is it holding true to the rest of our image? How is it resonating with people? You need to measure your successes and then test them against other solutions and keep iterating to make something better.

Personally, I think your website is a great step in the right direction, Derek. I was definitely one of the people that often found your old site feeling a bit less professional and reputable (though I still found your information great and stuck around for that). I think the new design speaks a lot more to you as a person as well as what you’re trying to achieve. I really like the little Derek ads in the nooks and corners, adding some character. Now I hope to see you iterate on this success and continue to improve!

Kathy

Congratulations! The site looks fantastic and really reflects your personality. I’ve been following you for a couple years now and truly appreciate your content. I never found you to be smammy, or smarmy, or otherwise annoying. You are confident and share great content…I like that and trust you as a result.

In fact, I trust you so much I purchased the Social Triggers Skin for my website. Are you still using the Social Triggers Skin…will there be an uber cool upgrade for WP Social Triggers?! Share the wealth, Derek…how about it πŸ˜‰

Henry

Awesome video bro! I started dying at the end! lol

Robert

Sound looks amazing brother! Keep up the great work!

Kizzy

Derek, This is a great post! I am so happy you wrote this. I am currently in the process of starting my first online business, and I am totally afraid to even post a picture of myself on the website. This is the life on an introvert! LOL. Anyway, I plan to take a leap of faith after reading this post. Thank you for this!

BTW, I’ve been following you for a few months now, and though I love this new design, I must say I also loved & valued the simplicity of the web design you had before, along with the great content you provide to us all. Again, thank you for all you do and congrats on this new web design!

AlanAAlanAlan

Hey Derek,

I can’t quite believe this post. I have never thought of you as at all spammy/scammy and have read plenty of articles you’ve written about how you’ve meticulously planned every aspect of your previous site such as the font & link colors, whats above/below the fold, why you have such a simple design etc etc.

I get that fashions change and your new site does look a lot more contemporary but then I also thought that you’d be the last person to change your site design for that reason – in case that was a factor at all. Exactly how many people are we talking about who thought your site was a scam? A really significant number? Do you have data to show this or is it possible you’re being a little paranoid?

To be honest, reading this article makes you seem more like a scam artist than ever (not that I think you are, but it does surprise me to see you talking down your previous site design that you not only seemed so comfortable with but also actively promoted – plus I liked it!!).

Anyways, it is nice to see that you have taken a good approach, have a design you are happy with (whether or not I personally prefer it) and are investing seriously and confidently in your brand and your business,

best wishes,
Alan

P.S. the boxes above for name, website etc doesn’t actually display them (at least not for me) – also not too impressive if you’ve paid 25K for that, get em back in!!

    Derek Halpern

    I’m not talking down my site. I’m saying it didnt accomplish what I needed it to accomplish today…

    …but it was GREAT for the first 4 years.

      Tim

      Good for you, Derek. The same people on this thread who question $25,000 for a site is crazy, wouldn’t spend $5,000 on a site either, but would still trade their car in for another $500/mo car payment …

      Congrats on the new site!

Josh

It’s been a long time coming! Great work, Derek! The new design is great. I’d been regularly revisiting the site and had wondered about the design myself and if it was impacting your success, especially considering your big article on design as king.

But I can totally understand the concept of the cobbler’s children having no shoes… as a web designer myself and online marketer, I’ve had to work on getting my own stuff up to snuff! I still need to fully implement my own marketing funnels and content engine instead of just working on my clients’s sites, content, and funnels.

But I’m glad you’re bringing this issue up as too many think just because their old design worked fine to get started, that it’s still working for them as they grow.

I think many of us would love to hear what the results were from this redesign in real terms for you.

Paul Graham

That was a great article Derek and as I mentioned on email earlier, I did actually think your previous design sucked too (sorry!), but your new site is amazing!

Just one thing you might want to mention to your designers…

I couldn’t leave a comment on this thread using Firefox. It didn’t tell me what the field names were and when I tried to enter my details (kinda guessing what they probably were) it wouldn’t let me do that either.

Anyway, that besides, I’m really impressed with the new design – looks great!

~ Paul

josh

A couple things that need fixing on your website:
– some placeholder text in the comment area text fields on Firefox mobile don’t show up. (Name, email, website)

Important one: your logo and menu button should be double the resolution it is being displayed at so they don’t look blurry on mobile. ie. If the CSS is sizing it to 250px, the image file should be 500px.

Thanks for the always great content

Torrie

Hi Derek,

Your site looks frickin AMAZING!!! Here’s the funny thing: I never thought anything was wrong with your old site, until you started mentioning it. BUT: now that I see THIS masterpiece, holy shit! Your old site DID suck! Haha. But this one is frickin FANTASTIC!!!!

Thanks for the reminder that we don’t have to have it perfect right now. I just had my site/brand redesigned and although I like it, I don’t love it….because I’m always comparing myself. So: I’m going to remember you and your 4 year story every time I want to bitch about my site.

I love everything you create, and your blog posts/videos are addicting. Also a quick note to say I effing LOVE Zippy Courses! YOU saved my life and I’m finally giving up one on on coaching for good. You have a forever client/customer here in me.

Can’t wait for your next offering/next launch of Yes Engines (I had just dropped $10k that week on other biz stuff, but I’m soooo in your next thing).

Maelisa

Great info and advice, Derek! Especially love that quote at the end. Great reminder for me today.

Mike

Derek, your site looks fantastic, but i have one qualm about it. Why put in the cheesy testimonial from Travis? Who is Travis? For all i know you could have written that testimonial yourself and just put a fake name on it. Unfortunately this is a lame credibility trigger for me. Now, i run a web design company for a living and I’m curious to know why you decided to show a testimonial from a random person that no-one knows on your site?

We have this conversation with our clients all the time as to whether or not a testimonial with just a first name adds credibility to a site or not. Most times though, when a decision is made to use testimonials on a site, that they should be from more identifiable people. like the president of a big company, or even marketing manager for a small firm.

I look forward to your response!

Steven Davis

Your business lives and grows, your site lives and grows, congratulations on reaching the next level.

… and good advice on how to get there.

Deyson

LOVE THE NEW SITE! Great work! Congrats! πŸ™‚

I did notice that the comment count on the blog home page shows 0 for this article even though there is already 12 comments. Just thought you would like to know. Keep up the great work and keep rocking my friend! πŸ™‚

Jay

I was loving your new site and then I noticed that there is still no search bar β€” that’s when I knew it was a design choice.

So I got a little creative and “found” your article about search bars: http://socialtriggers.com/search-form-blog/

Totally new perspective. Thanks Derek, now I’ll be driving my potential readers crazy with the lack of a search bar on my new site. πŸ™‚

Nick Cobb

The redesign of the site is sharp, but your homepage has some title capitalization inconsistencies. Luckily, that shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to fix!

Bill Alpert

Beautiful, bright new look, Derek!
Yes, design matters. I learned that from 30 + years in the print/direct mail industry. But design won’t help you if your idea/business is a turd. Validate first, ladies and gentlemen.

Adulis

Did you put together a Requests for Proposal? (RFP) I’m actually in the middle of planning a redesign and I think it would be invaluable if you shared your redesign process Derek. Thanks.

Julie

Hi Derek,
I will say – I was one of those people who put you in the “slimy scammy” category…and not just because of your web design. There was a rub I felt that turned me off – maybe it was the combination of your personality, your tactics, and your site…who knows. But as you put in your blog post, I clearly wasn’t the only one who felt this vibe from you. You were struggling to overcome that reputation with others as well.

What I’ve found is when people stick around your site, they eventually come around. For me? I’ve come to realize that you aren’t a slimy salesman insomuch as you have a personality that rubs me the wrong way and probably always will. That’s different than being a scammer though.

I’ll never be your biggest fan, but your content speaks for itself (most of the time) πŸ™‚

Either way, your new design is quite nice. $25,000 is steep – but I’m assuming a lot of that was thrown into the custom graphics and photography…that’s where the beaucoup dollars add up…and your artists did a very good job.

And I agree with your credibility triggers. As someone who makes websites for a living, I know that my own blog and website need to speak of my personality and my skills. I don’t run with big boys like you, so I can go for the girl-down-the-street look and it works well.

Plus, it’s really just who I am. Your website looks like you.

But now I think I need to raise my prices for my websites, because my website designs are nowhere near $25000.00 and while I don’t think I’ll ever charge more than $3000.00 a website, I need to stop underselling myself for $500 or $1000 bucks for a site that can do many of the same things this site does.

Adelle

The new design and photography is really quite impressive. And yes, your last website did look super scammy. Great choice. Congrats!

Jan Schochet

I’m sure you don’t want to hear this. I think I like your new website. Looks really nice from what I can see. But your hamburger menu icon does not work on this old iPhone 4 (not 4S). It doesn’t seem to be mobile responsive (which I’m sure you know is different from “mobile friendly.”).

I wish I could see the whole site from here. (I’m sure I’m not the only person out of your 200K subscribers with an old phone πŸ™ )

Can’t wait to get to my computer to see it. Love your photo on homepage (which I can partially see.)

virgen

This is a very poignant post Derek. I’ve also been a “Halperner” for a while and always wondered why the design was so basic. I’m a Designer, so when I read your posts on how to use psychology to convert better I thought “but there’s something sensory missing about this site,” the visual delivery. The new diggs are fabulous. Definitely going to share with my tribe… so they can SEE what I’m always harping on. haha.

Kudos to your Designer & Photographer.

Holly Chantal

This article is so right on! I love your new website, and you’re absolutely right.
Get your business right first – then make it look good. And when your business is right, then you can afford to get the design right as well.

To be honest, if you’re investing the last of your money in a website to “fix your business” chances are – that website isn’t going to do it for you, because there’s an underlying problem. And you’re just going to end up having to redo it again.

So kudos to you for taking the leap, I only wish we had been able to put in a proposal!! πŸ˜‰

Maya

I love this post! Especially as a web designer and business coach. Too many people spend thousands of dollars on a website before they even realize where they’re bleeding in their business. Site looks great!

KJ

Finally–someone who understands (and can articulate) the real value of design and design thinking. Now, please, call some of my SMB clients and let them know…

Josh Escusa

Been a follower for a long time and I must say that the new design is gorgeous. I did a redesign of my site very recently and it’s still a work in progress. After seeing your site now, I’m jealous πŸ™‚

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