The Making of Cypress North’s New Website


How Our Digital Agency Decided It Was Time For a Refresh & What We Learned from the Process

If you’re reading this blog post, you may have noticed things look a little different around here. It’s been a (very) long time coming and it’s taken a lot of work, but we’re so excited to finally unveil the new Cypress North website!

This project was truly a collaborative effort from our whole team. From the moment we decided we needed an update right up until we flipped the switch from old to new, our four departments worked together to design, build, and optimize this new website to set us up for success.

We like to highlight the work we do here at Cypress North as much as possible, but this internal project gave us a chance to pull back the curtain and provide a behind-the-scenes look at our process. It also gave us the unique opportunity to step into our clients' shoes, look in the mirror, and reflect on our processes.

So without further ado, here’s the story behind the new How we got here, what challenges we faced, and what we’re taking away from this internal project to improve the work we do for our clients.

How We Determined It Was Time for a New Site

The old Cypress North website (RIP) was launched in 2016. At the time, our agency had just two departments and under 10 employees. We were still a relatively new company and needed to prove ourselves in the industry.

Now, just shy of a decade later, we're no longer at that point. We have four full departments, more than two dozen team members, and 14 years of service under our belts. As an agency, we're more confident and have proven our capabilities. We've established ourselves as industry experts, and have more knowledge to share.

But our old website didn't show that. We knew we needed a new site to support our continuous growth and better showcase our values, work, and the holistic approach we take in everything we do.

So we got to work.

Our New Site Design Process

Once we knew it was time for a new site, we decided we needed to do it right – by putting ourselves through the same web design and development processes our clients go through. This meant not only treating ourselves like a client – but also acting like one.

It started with our discovery process. Just like we do with our clients, we put out a questionnaire so key stakeholders from each department could have their voices heard, then followed up with a discovery meeting to ensure everyone was aligned.

This step was one of the first things we struggled with. Our agency has seen so much growth over the past decade that it was hard for us to boil everything down and explain what we do properly. Our department leaders spent a lot of time figuring out the best way to put all the pieces together and organize everything on the site in a way that would be easy to understand.

That part was crucial to us – we needed to ensure the new site would serve both our current and potential future clients as best as possible. We wanted the site to be user-friendly and easy to navigate so visitors could find the services, information, and resources relevant to them.

We also felt that our new site needed to showcase our people and culture more than the old site. If you’ve worked with us, you’ve probably heard us say that we bring ourselves to work and value authenticity. The members of our team and the collaborative culture we’ve created here are really what makes our agency special, and we needed the new site to reflect that in a way the old site didn’t.

We have kind of a quirky personality when it comes to agencies. So showing more of ourselves was important and not feeling as stiff because that’s not who we are.

So it did take a while for us, but once we settled on a layout and design, we were able to move forward.

Each team played a crucial role throughout the next steps. Our creative team put together a strategy and positioning document, wireframes, and UI/UX design, then passed the baton to our technology team, which started developing the site.

While the site was being built, our digital marketing team got to work building a sitemap, performing keyword research, and developing a site plan so we could write all new copy and create SEO-friendly title tags and meta descriptions. Before we launched, our data team also worked to set up tracking for the site so we could continue monitoring our successes and gaining important insights.

The Design We Settled On (And Some Cool New Features)

As a team, we felt that the design we settled on offered an improved user experience and better portrayed who we are as an agency.

This new site is much more modern and in line with current trends. Our creative team worked hard to evolve our branding for the site by updating the colors and fonts we use. They also added a new highlight feature that makes certain text pop more.

Our designers also found some cool, creative ways to highlight our team throughout the site. Instead of using stock photos, they dedicated time to taking candid photos of our team over the past few months. You’ll see those photos on our solutions and about pages, and sprinkled elsewhere throughout the site.

Those candid photos are also listed on our Meet the Team page instead of traditional headshots. We felt the pictures of us in our natural element were much more authentic and gave users a better idea of who we are and the culture we’ve built here at Cypress North.

The cultural aspect was critical to us and largely influenced the decisions we made when it came to the site design. Our goal was to establish a level of familiarity for potential clients, and set us up for success with hiring. The new site better showcases our team’s dynamic and conveys to future employees that we’re a great workplace.

Our new design also focused on providing a more seamless user experience. We have more resources on each page and related content, as well as a brand-new Smart Suggest feature that our tech department built.

Smart Suggest uses machine learning and AI to provide users with relevant content and recommend the next pages they should click to based on how they interact with the site and which pages they’ve already visited. (We’re also offering Smart Suggest to our clients now as a feature they can add to their own sites!)

Challenges We Came Across & How We Adapted

The Challenge: Finding Capacity for Internal Projects
As a team, we often joke that we’re our own worst clients. We find it hard to prioritize ourselves because we genuinely care about our clients and are always busy working on projects for them. One of the biggest challenges we ran into during this project was finding and carving out time to work on something for ourselves.

The Solution:
Teamwork was key throughout this project – both for the site build and keeping up with client work that required our attention. Our department leaders kept a close eye on workloads and adjusted as needed. Team members pulled together and helped each other. As a result, we hit the deadlines we set for ourselves with the site and continued to provide clients with the level of service they’ve come to expect from us.

The Challenge: Showing Everything We Have to Offer
Organizationally, we struggled to figure out the best way to present all of our services to visitors without overwhelming them. In addition, we had a lot of conversations about which offerings should be highlighted and made more prominent on the site.

We also had a hard time deciding where certain services would go. We’re a collaborative agency that provides holistic solutions, meaning many of our services involve more than one department. So we weren’t sure where to put those solutions and which department should “own” them on the site.

The Solution:
Mapping out the site and creating mock-ups helped us visualize what the new site would look like with different layouts. Our department leaders met with each other frequently and asked for insights from the team until we all came to a consensus on how we should present all of our solutions.

When it came to our collaborative solutions, we decided to build out a fifth services page in addition to the pages we had for each of our four departments – an Integrated Solutions page. The page was designed to house all of the solutions we offer that involve more than one department – and outline the role each department plays in those services.

A huge asset for us with this new site is how it was developed. Our tech team used more modern strategies and techniques on this new site that make it much easier to adjust and adapt than our old site did.

Our development patterns and techniques have changed a ton since we did the last site. Now, we have way different strategies for building things out that make it a lot easier to expand on and adjust in the future.

The new is built to accommodate growth. If our services change down the line or we want to alter what we’re prioritizing, it’s much easier to make changes on this new site than on the old one.

The Challenge: Loading a Massive Amount of Content to the Site
Content loading was a huge challenge for us – and one that we didn’t expect. We didn’t go into this with a content-loading plan, which was an oversight and a mistake on our part. Content loading is time-consuming and confusing – and without a process in place, we ended up getting a little stuck when it came time to start creating pages, writing copy, and uploading content to the staging site.

The Solution:
Getting the website process back on track required central organization. Lucky for us, one of our amazing digital marketers (Cat) stepped into the role of project manager and knocked it out of the park.

She was instrumental in realigning our team and developed a spreadsheet to track the pages that needed to be built, which copy was ready for implementation on the site, and whether the pages had been optimized. The spreadsheet provided a centralized source of information that clearly laid out what needed to be done and who was responsible for what.

What We Learned From This Project

Now that the official launch of the new site is behind us, we want to share what we learned and how it’s going to change the work we do here at Cypress North.

First, we’ve gained a new perspective. Going through our own processes and putting ourselves in our clients’ shoes made us realize how challenging some of those initial steps of a website development project can be. We now have a better idea of what our clients go through and what challenges they face on their end.

Moving forward, we’ll be able to provide better guidance to clients going through these processes because we’ve been through them ourselves. We know what challenges we faced and how we overcame them, and can offer insights and solutions to help clients align their teams and make tough decisions.

I feel for our clients, sitting there trying to describe services and distill everything down… We went through so many versions of that. I think it’s a lot easier for us to guide a client through that because we’re on the outside. It was really, really tough to be both sides of it.

We also learned how to improve our content-loading strategy and have a better awareness now of how challenging and messy that process can be.

The strategy we used to organize and improve our content-loading process is something we’ll continue to use on client projects moving forward. We’re looking forward to using the spreadsheet our project manager developed, which we feel is going to be a huge asset for us and them moving forward – especially for clients with massive websites.

One of the biggest (and most important) things we learned during this project was how powerful we are as a team. Our whole agency pulled together to completely revamp, rebuild, and launch this new site – all while keeping up with our client work and other day-to-day demands. So shout out to our entire team for making this happen.

Our incredible clients also deserve a shoutout for all of their hard work. Having done it ourselves now, we know how much thought goes into this process on your end and what a collaborative effort it is. We're grateful for the work you put in and the valuable insights you provide that allow us to help you.

We also want to thank you for your support over the years. Without it, we wouldn’t have been able to grow and get to the point where we needed this awesome new website.

Is it your turn for a new site? Get in touch to get started!


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Meet the Author

Content Writer

Heather Monahan

Heather is a Content Writer who joined Cypress North in November 2022 and works out of our Rochester office. She brings nearly a decade of professional writing experience to our digital marketing team.

Some of Heather's daily responsibilities include writing content for our clients' websites and landing pages, writing ad copy, copywriting, and copy editing. She also helps manage our agency's blog, newsletter, and other internal content writing. Since joining Cypress North, Heather has earned HubSpot certifications for content marketing, inbound marketing, SEO, and social media marketing.

Before joining Cypress North, Heather spent more than eight years as a journalist, working as a news producer and digital content producer for local TV news stations. She most recently spent six years in Tampa, Florida, where she helped lead the digital team and oversaw the station’s growing digital initiative. While in Florida, Heather won a regional Emmy for her work on an interactive digital program that provided live hurricane coverage.

Born and raised in the Rochester area, Heather graduated from St. Bonaventure University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication.

When she's not working, Heather can be found taking approximately a million daily pictures of her dogs, geeking out over the latest space news, reading, or sharing tales of her time in Florida. She also enjoys skiing and cheering on the Buffalo Bills - even when they make her sad.