Read time: 8 minutes
For years, clients have asked our team to analyze and update their websites to meet the demands of today's audience.
From non-profits to newspapers, we've helped numerous businesses not only build or rebuild a new site but also help them understand what was great (and not so great) about their current site.
Our common advice?
Make sure to update your website every 5-7 years.
It's something we at Unity do as well, and we've actually gone through a handful of iterations since we first launched our site back in 2016.
(We weren't even on WordPress back then!)
So, we decided to look back at our old websites and break down what we liked about them and what could've been better...
...and we're taking you along with us!
Watch as Alisa Herr, Christina Marie Noel, and Bud Northern look back on the very first Unity Digital Agency (we rebranded to Unity Web Agency in 2020) website!
- Unity Web Agency used to be called “Unity Digital Agency” when we first opened our doors in 2016.
- Despite being a proud WordPress supporter, Alisa built the first Unity website on SquareSpace due to its ability to get good-looking and accessible websites up quickly.
- Bud enjoyed the overall look and feel of the website. Thought that despite its simple approach to design, it captured how Unity wanted to be portrayed during that period.
- Christina enjoyed the photography but was a bit puzzled by the copywriting. She believed that some of the statements were a bit ambiguous. She did enjoy the emphasis on using the word “you” and making the audience feel like they are the priority.
- Alisa admitted to making this over a weekend but really enjoyed how the site turned out. She felt that it was a good start for the business and really emphasized how important it is for new businesses to get started on simple-to-use platforms like Squarespace if they don’t have the time, money, or expertise to work on WordPress.
- On a scale of 1-5, the group gave this website a 3 for its strong photography and simplicity but its inconsistent copy and lack of stronger visual “pop.”
This transcript has been edited for clarity and readability.
Christina Marie Noel: Um, I can't, I mean, I'm ready for the web takedown on it. I mean, you did have digital agency at the top, but it's just like “together, we can do so much.”
It's like, in what way?
Alisa Herr: Right. I am Alisa Herr and I'm the founder and CEO of Unity Web Agency, and this is my cat Azzy. Today I'm drinking this, um, wonderful homebrew that my husband made.
And, um, it's really good. It's like a, almost like floral hoppy ale. Um, but it's not an IPA.
Christina Marie Noel: Um, my name is Christina Marino Noel I am the Founder and Principal at Noel & Co., a certified B Corp marketing and strategy company. However, I'm here because I've been working with Unity web agency in like a fractional marketing leadership capacity since 2018. It's been a few years!
Today, I am drinking Bull City Cider Work’s “Off Main.” I love Bull City Ciderwork or where just their local. It's my favorite cider. It's not too sweet. It's perfect. And. TGI farm. I'm pretty excited to enjoy this today.
Bud Northern: Hello, I am. Uh, Bud Northern, I've been with Unity. Uh, I'm a designer at lunaity, sometimes it is lunatiy, at Unity for over three years today, I am drinking a lightweight LaCroix. It is a peach pear sparkling water. Very nice with a nice burger and, uh, I think we're ready
Alisa Herr: So anyway, what we're going to be doing is looking at the evolution and seeing what was awesome, what was not so awesome.
And maybe get some ideas about where to go next and seeing our history, um, not to go backward, but to go forwards. And this is the very, very, very first website for Unity Web Agency.
Oh, Nope. Sorry. It was Unity Digital Agency.
Christina Marie Noel: Yes, we hadn't repositioned you yet!
Alisa Herr: I built this in Squarespace in a weekend, probably because I had to get something up very quickly and I knew I'm a WordPress developer at heart, but Squarespace is great if you need something quick and easy. So that's what I did. So, um, it has we have a few pages. There's this homepage, there was an about page services blog, a contact form.
Um, I loved this quote or a quote from, it was, uh, Helen Keller I think, was attributed to this together. We can do so much. And I thought that it really went well. You know, the word “unity.”
Christian Marie Noel: I can't, I mean, I can’t wait for the web takedown.. I mean, you had digital agency at the top, but it's just like:
“Together, we can do so much.”
It's like, in what way? But I like the image it looks sharp.
Alisa Herr: Yeah. Here's what we do. Right. And we're, we've been mission-driven from the start. So founded on the principles of sustainability community and social equity. Unity is a digital agency for mission-based organizations and our initial clients. Um, like the markets that we were selling to were non-profits, small businesses, and high-tech startups.
And that was really just based on like who our first clients were.
Christina Marie Noel: It wasn't. Yeah, that's perfect. I mean, that's kind of how you start, right? Like typically you're like, Ooh, won't work with me. And the new narrative it's from here and that's it.
Alisa Herr: And then, um, we were a pending B Corp from the beginning, but yeah.
All right. Ready for a takedown. Bud, you’re thoughts?
Bud Northern: You know, I'm not sure. I think, you know, just the approaches. I mean, it's very. Um, you know, very simple way of presenting your messaging and who you, um, you want to work for.
I think, you know, in general, I think stylistically we've definitely moved away from, you know, some of these sort of, uh, um, you know, standard approaches, you know, And the center text, um, know our topography has done a little bit more sophisticated.
Um, I think the photography here is really great. I would probably even say that that might something that we could revisit or, and look at stylistically, um, new photos, um, in general, I think it's, um, there's not a lot here to really takedown. I think it's a really beautiful, um, website you started with.
Alisa Herr: Thanks!
My takedown would be that I think it's kind of bland. It just looks like, and it's, it's obviously Squarespace and a lot of other websites look like that.
Christina Marie Noel: That's actually a question I have for you. Alisa, why are you a WordPress developer at heart? And so, I mean, I love that you started with Squarespace and I think that's so telling.
When someone's really early, you're like, “Hey man, it's okay to start on Squarespace.” But when, when do you upgrade or level up to WordPress?
Alisa Herr: WordPress is great for like…
…so WordPress started as blogging software. And so it's a really, really good way of managing a lot of content. So once you've got a lot of blogs and you've got, um, maybe like resources and you've got a whole. bunch of staff and you have all of this and then a bunch of pages and all of these things.
I'm very into open-source software. And so I love WordPress because it's open-source, it's collaborative. It has a lot of the same mission and values as Unity. With believing in the power of people. They're not a B Corp, but I'd be curious if they…I wouldn't be surprised if they started going down that path.
I feel like we're very mission-aligned um, with WordPress.
Christina Marie Noel: Awesome.
And do you think they're a little bit better at SEO too?
Alisa Herr: Oh, yeah. And, and accessibility like you can, you can customize like, as a developer and a designer, you can customize everything. You can download and install WordPress anywhere. And, um, you own it.
Christina Marie Noel: That's good to know, but it does make sense that ownership is important too. Like depending upon what your goals are.
That's so cool. I mean, so it sounds like the big takedown is, I mean, Squarespace is awesome for, you know, certain circumstances and certain uses. But it's, we're processed.
Awesome. And we're all a little biased. I think once you're a part of the Unity team, you start drinking the WordPress Kool-Aid. But it was nice to hear from you and Bud like your thoughts on why WordPress is so cool. Um, I would love to do a takedown on copywriting, um, but obviously, I've poked fun at the copy up top.
Cause I'm like, ah, it's beautiful. But what do you do? Like, I love it. Um, I would, I 'd probably leave it together. We can do so much. And then it just put something in about like an eight. I would put some tagline, like an agency to if her mission or something, just to it's just so like, when people come to your page like you have like 10 seconds it's monkey brain and they don't know what you do.
Alisa Herr: Yeah. You shouldn't have to scroll to get to that.
Christina Marie Noel: Right.
I mean, but beyond that, like, I love what you're that you lead with your mission. I know that must vibe with your early customers. I do love that your imagery is inclusive. I love the photography. Um, I do love that. You said you, like, we share your goal of serving the common.
Good. Um, so the fact that you spoke to them, I think that's good, but it's also a lot of texts. Like I think under, I mean, it's, it's all grouped together, but you know, that takes time and the fact that you build this on a weekend, so like there's not a lot to take down.
Alisa Herr: Well, I was actually really surprised to see this, like, I hadn't read StoryBrand or any of that kind of stuff yet, but the first sentence of each of these is about them.
Christina Marie Noel: Like you're legit.
And then it's like what we can do to help. And so I was like, wow, I, I don't know. Good for me!
I'm very proud of you.
Alisa Herr: Yeah, well, um, I think we should go ahead and rate it. One to five. Five is the best.
Christina Marie Noel: We're rating that three out of five.
Alisa Herr: Yay threes!