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Discussion in 'Business Fundamentals' started by DaveK, Oct 28, 2001.


Do you have a website for your company?

  1. Yes, I do have one.

    13 vote(s)
  2. No, but I am thinking about one.

    11 vote(s)
  3. No, and I am not planning on one.

    6 vote(s)
  1. DaveK

    DaveK Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    Admin/moderators - If this is inappropriate, go ahead and delete it. If ok, but you feel it should go in the off topic forum, go ahead and move it. Thanks, Dave

    I am curious how many members here have a website. And if you are actively promoting your site. If you have one, the address should be on your business cards, your invoices/bills, even on your trucks. If you don't have one, do you plan on having one?

    I have been designing websites (not full time) since 1996. I created MichiganLandscape.com in 1998 while I was employed at EDS (yup, Ross Perot's company, the guy that ran for president) and listed landscape/lawncare contractors for a fee, among other things. Two years later, I sold the name (MichiganLandscape.com) for a very good profit to a competitor who now has it re-directed to his site MichiganLawncare.com. I now have a couple "sidelines" that keep me busy. One is MichiganWideWeb.com, and any of you guys/gals that are located in Michigan are welcome to submit your website to the business directory on that site for free. Another side business is a company that I am a partner in, readyforawebsite.com I can design (or re-design) a website for your company, and host it, for a very affordable price.

    For those that do have websites, I will gladly take a look at it and offer suggestions for improvement. Whether it is design improvements or improvements that will get your site listed higher in search engines. Since I am not charging for this, and will be doing it in my spare time, it may take awhile depending on how many of you would like me to criticize your site. I'll try not to be to harsh, but it is constructive criticism, and many sites are poorly designed. If your site doesn't look professional, it is hurting your business more than helping it. Just send me your web site address to dave@readyforawebsite.com
  2. snow

    snow PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 1,002

    i have a website, but not for business purposes. it's photos of snow removal equipment , trucks and other stuff. the address is http://go.to/snowplow . i made a website for a friend, and have other personal ones.

  3. CT18fireman

    CT18fireman Banned
    Messages: 2,133

    I have a long term project of designing one for my business. I know it would be a valuable asset but cannot take time off from actual ork to finish it right now. Maybe over the winter.

    OBRYANMAINT PlowSite.com Veteran
    from ohio
    Messages: 534

    i have one but have not promoted it much...stillin progress

  5. DaveK

    DaveK Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    Well, not many people looking for advice, so I'll just give some anyway. :D

    Tips to spot a newbie website (you know, the ones that where designed using a "website design in a box program" or by a inexperienced designer)

    • An annoying background image that makes it difficult to read the text.
    • Everything on the page is centered.
    • The site has a list of links to other sites. Do you really need links to ebay.com or yahoo.com on your site? Most people know about them anyway. And isn't the reason you have a site to promote your products and/or services? Why give the user a "fast get away." Sometimes it is helpful to give links to other sites that have information that backs up your claims, but be careful you aren't sending your customers away for good.
    • "This site best viewed using Netscape" or "This site best viewed at 800x600 using Internet Explorer" etc. Your site should be best viewed by any browser at any resolution that the user chooses, not you.

    And now common mistakes made on poorly designed websites.

    • Using large images and displaying them smaller than actual size on the page. A prime example is here. The images on that page are about 600 x 400 yet displayed as 150 x 100. This makes the images load extremely slow, unless you have a cable connection, most users will not wait that long for them to load.
      A good friend of mine is friends with Trevor (the owner of Omni-Stone, my friend once introduced me to Trevor by saying "tell Trevor why his website sucks." So I did. I could tell by his reaction that it was designed by somebody close to him. In fact, I later found that it was designed by his young teenage son. Here is Multi-million dollar company that has a poorly deigned website, and will probably stay that way because he chose to allow his young son to manage his companies online image. How many of you would hire a teenager to be in charge of your multi-million dollar companies online image? Browse that site a little more and see just how much patients you have.
    • Not optimizing or compressing images. Most jpg files can be compressed to almost half the file size and have no visual difference. Most good graphics programs can compress them.
    • Having a "photos" page with a large number of full size photos.
      This is compounded further if the images are not compressed. A far better way is to have smaller and compressed "thumbnails" on the photo page that display the full size version. One example is on the site of a member of plowsite, so I won't give the link here. Let's just say that it took nearly 10 minutes to load that page over a 56k modem. The only reason I waited was to time how long it would take, most users will not wait.
    • No meta tags. If you don't know what meta tags are, go here.
    • Different pages use different backgrounds, buttons, logo, etc. Sometimes it is hard to tell if you are still on the same site. By "re-using" images on many pages, subsequent pages will load faster since your browser already has the images in it's cache and doesn't need to download them again.

    Well, that's all I have time for now. If you have any questions, go ahead and send me a message or ask it here.
  6. thelawnguy

    thelawnguy PlowSite.com Addict
    Messages: 1,011

    I'll add to the list a biggie on my complaint list; improper grammar and spelling. Theres a loudmouth on another board bragging about million dollar contracts doing dune restorations, you go to his website and it looks as if a second-grader proofread it. Give me a break! Also, there was a green industry consultant who still frquents LS (no not Phil nor Bill) last visit to his site promoting his consulting services, counted 168 spelling and grammar errors on the first page alone! And this guy wants you to spend $250/mo so he can tell you how to run your business, please...
  7. DaveK

    DaveK Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    How could I have forgot that one? :eek: That is a major mistake. As soon as I see a misspelled word on a page, I think "don't they proofread before putting it on the web." Your website is more than a full color multi-page ad in every newspaper in the world. Certainly it doesn't cost that much, but it is your company image. First impressions are important. You certainly wouldn't meet with a new customer looking like you just rolled out of bed, or just finished changing your oil.

    Your website should give a good first impression.
    It should be clean, well organized, and impressive.

    It should not be sloppy, careless (misspelled words), slow to load, or disorganized.

    It never ceases to amaze me how many sites are designed by amateurs. They wouldn't try producing their own TV or radio commercial (I wouldn't either). But for some reason, they feel they have what it takes to design a website. Sure, anyone can buy a webpage design program, but experience and talent don't come in a box or on a disk. I have been thinking about buying Microsoft Open Heart Surgery. Just think, next week I could be saving lives. :D
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2001
  8. Winterworks

    Winterworks PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 97

    Hi Dave,

    Here is our website. It does have a fault mentioned in this thread....it is slow to load. However the vast majority of our customers or potential customers are companies with fast connections. The purpose of this site is information. We are not interested in being found by any search engines. The name is on the trucks and equipment and also linked to the yellow pages website. I would like to have your feedback negative or positive.
    Thanks, Pat

  9. DaveK

    DaveK Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    Well Pat,

    Very impressive. Most Flash® sites are more of a multimedia experience. Whenever I go to a site that uses Flash, I always skip the intro. The same way I fast forward through the previews on VHS movies. I also usually use the non-Flash version if one is available. These are just my personal preferences. I like to right click on links to open them in a new window, so that if that page takes me to more pages, I can just close that window and be right back where I started without clicking the back button numerous times. I spend a LOT of time on the Internet and choose to browse my way, not the way I am forced to.

    Ok, enough about my browsing habits. I only found a few things that I would change. The Links page and the Consumer Tips page load in a new window, while the rest open as expected. Those two pages also are unnecessary. What will your customers gain from going to Boss Plows website? Or the Team2 website? Your customer came to your site to learn more about Winterworks Snow and Ice Management, don't distract them or send them away. The link to SIMA's consumer tips is more helpful, but it shouldn't be a choice on the menu. The menu should only go to pages on your site to avoid confusion. Perhaps put a text link on one of the pages like this: For quality information about choosing a winter services provider, visit the SIMA website.

    Think about having a non-Flash version as well. It can virtually look the same, just less pizazz. I have the latest version of Flash installed, but many people may not. And it can be a pain for some people to have to download and install something just to view a website.

    And finally, it is a good thing you do not care to be found in search engines. Without META tags, let alone a TITLE tag, along with a Flash only site, chances are very slim that your site would ever be indexed in the top 1 or 2 hundred.

    Overall, it looks very nice and is easy to navigate. It is certainly one of the best sites I have been asked to look at. (the other four were requested and answered through email) And probably the only one that was designed by a professional.
  10. Winterworks

    Winterworks PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 97

    Thanks for your input Dave, It all makes good sense. I understand about the Flash concerns (time to load etc.) I expect visitors to our site are one time only viewers that are checking it out hopefully before signing their contracts. I don't expect people to visit more than that therefore I was not really concerned about the load time etc. Most will probably wait until loaded for their 1st and only visit.
    The link to Boss plows was part of an agreement to use their photo on the site and on some of our stationary. We tried to recreate the photo but nearly killed the photographer. The Team II link will probably be removed after this season. I will, as you mentioned, change the consumer tips page to a page of our own using SIMA's info. The site will be revamped slightly when we get some snow and take some photos. We have 5 new employees this year and some new equipment that I would like to show. Thanks again for the help.

  11. diginahole

    diginahole Member
    Messages: 63

    Winterworks- Nice site. I like your salt box at every site idea, great benefit, bet that makes alot of sales for you. I think I'll call Tech-Star and see about getting some boxes for my sites.
  12. landscaper3

    landscaper3 Senior Member
    Messages: 309

    Nice looking site Winter-Works!!!!!!
  13. Winterworks

    Winterworks PlowSite.com Veteran
    Messages: 97

    Thanks folks,

    The salt box program has been extremely popular. They cost me $110 each and another $60 to fill them with ice melter. They have our logo and phone number on them and with the bigger clients such as Canadian Tire I have both company's logos on them with " partners in your safety" printed between them. They are placed at the front entrances. The benefits are excellent promotion, reduced liability, customer relations, and most importantly public safety. Well worth the money.
  14. landscaper3

    landscaper3 Senior Member
    Messages: 309

    Web sites are a good idea for a growing company. It will set you apart from others and any edge in todays market WILL ONLY HELP!!! Home pages are ok but if your going to do it to promote your company go ALL THE WAY! We have a web site and promote it on all our letter heads, business cards, door hangers and proposals and found it does make a difference in the viewers eye. We are on yahoo, lycose and most search engines under landscaping so if a person in state or out of state looking for landscaping in Maine our web site comes up along with our phone number under yellow page search on line. We have got 1/2 dozen profitable jobs from search engines alone.
  15. DaveK

    DaveK Senior Member
    Messages: 420

    Glad to hear it Brian. And I would assume that just one of those 1/2 dozen jobs more than paid for the website. It really is a shame that a large majority of companies in this industry unfortunately under-estimate the value of a website and/or how to promote a current website. It really is a great way to show your clients that you are a professional that is doing business the way business is done in the 21st century.

    The sad truth is that Lawnsite and Plowsite are great tools that the large majority of people in this industry have never used. In fact, I would venture to say that over 60 percent of the people in this industry don't even use email or the Internet. And in contrast, over 90 percent of their customers do. :confused:
    With all the money this industry "gives" to Nextel..... you would think that more would use these other excellent tools that are available.
  16. landscaper3

    landscaper3 Senior Member
    Messages: 309

    Well my theory is alot of people (customers) feel mowing a lawn or plowing is a non skilled related job, infact you look at our lawns there all striped, look at our driveways all cleared and giving our customers or potential customers something to view in there own home (web sites) will see it is a skilled profession done by professionals. This will show them we have insurance, we have pictures, tell a little about our business and our employees. This will help the potential customers feel they know us or at least can see what we do. And most of all separate us from Joe Blow company! Face it its not the 80's not the 90's we are in the computer age and need to use it. Do you do your taxes by hand? or use software like Quick Books. Do you hand write estimates and proposals or use programs like Clip or Lawn Monkey. In todays market computers are at 99% businesses including the ones you put bids on so they get 6 proposal all look great but one has a nice web site with PICTURES showing work performed BAM!!!!!!! the maintenance supervisor views it and now puts you ahead on the list. Yes its just this simple in todays market, with all the scam artist out there and people who do shaddy work this can ONLY!!!! help you grow in todays market.