Website Critique

A cabinetmaker gets a bushel of helpful suggestions to make his new website more effective as a marketing presentation. March 21, 2012

I have just committed to updating my site and intensive SEO development. I am getting a lot of hits to my site, but not many leads. My web designer has asked me if I can send some examples of sites that impressed me. I have seen a lot of nice sites here, but cannot find one place where I can view them easily. If you have a professional site would you be able to share some information?

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor M:
Could your web designers show you some examples of lay outs and templates? I would think they should have some ideas since that is their job! Start looking at some of the most profitable companies you can think of. Their websites are usually quite nice and you could get some ideas that way.

From contributor Z:
Look at your website through the eyes of your customer. If you and your wife needed some cabinets what would be important to you - pictures and prices. What are my options? What do they cost? How can I make it cost less? How can I make it take less time?

Ask your wife what else she would want to know. Don't benchmark your website to your competition. We aren't buying cabinets from you. We may be impressed with the certificate of accomplishment from Wood Products Magazine but your customers have never heard of the magazine and couldn't care less about that. Keep it conversational. If you could sum up what you do in three sentences at a party don't write a big paragraph.

Use words that someone with an eighth grade education can understand. Pay attention to what shows up above the fold. Newspapers put the stuff that sells newspapers on the top. You should do this too. Page one is what brings them in. If they don't like page one they will not make it to page two.

Leave good bread crumbs. An interested customer is highly motivated to learn and they will burn through your pages if you are actually under consideration. If they see something they like or want to show to others make it easy to find. Good navigation is key. What do you want them to know about you? What do you think they want to know about you?

You seem to have a niche in kosher. This is a good button for the top of the page. If they are interested in this they will click but everybody is interested in pictures so give these the prime time real estate. Use an optimizer so it loads quickly.

SEO is great to make them show up but if you bore them when they get there they will rabbit in a heartbeat. Pay attention to web safe fonts. The user's computer will dictate what the fonts look like so use something that is compatible with the top three browser systems. Go minimal on graphics. They take a lot of time to load. Don't assume they like the same music that you do. Don't put any on your website.

From contributor K:
Your website covers a lot, but the one thing that is missing is the "call to action". A website is just a permanent brochure that advertises. An advertisement without a call to action is just like a brochure, it just gets tossed and they move on. Fortunately, you can update it as often as you'd like. All your info is good, although it could be organized differently to guide the person to make a decision to contact your company.

Your home page says you've been building cabs for 30 and 31 years, and then your "about us" page says 25 years. That's kind of weird for a reader to see. Your home page has a "featured project" detailing a commercial project, whereas the rest of your text leans toward residential. I understand you are targeting two markets (residential and commercial), so I would suggest having your main page give the reader the choice of residential or commercial and then gear the sub-pages towards that market. An example of a commercial project means little to a residential customer and vice-versa.

On your "media" page, instead of talking about generic articles, give them a reason to read them. Use the publication logo, and talk about how you wrote them. Your "about us" page should really contain the text info you have on the main page. Instead of having your testimonials on your "about us" page consider putting them on the main page and say - "what people are saying" or "in their own words."

I love the hand-written letters of recommendation, but consider adding project pictures to give it context. Additionally, take a one-liner from each letter and put it in quotes underneath the letter as a tease to get them to read it, but also so it focuses on the positives of doing business with you.

Your "professional certifications" are dated back to 2009. A dated award is one thing, a certification is another. Consider getting them updated. On your fabrication page, consider showing a slide-show of an actual project from start to finish.

Instead of talking generically about "custom", give them a choice of the types of cabinetry that you offer - laminate, European, face-frame, Kosher, Eco-friendly, etc. with a link to each that talks about the details of each - or have a link titled "what do you mean by custom?".

Think of your webpage as a presentation. Gear it towards bringing them to the conclusion to call you, and then ask them to do so. You've been doing it for 25, 30 or 31 years, so you should have an understanding of what people are most concerned about when talking with you about a project.

The simplest concrete message is the one that gets through but it also needs a "call to action" to accompany it for it to be effective. One of the best ways to get through to your audience is to gear your text towards your audience talking in their vernacular not yours as a cabinetmaker. For example, most customers don't know what an "elevation" drawing is. Instead talk in their terms, and say that you provide three sets of drawings - one from overhead, another where you are looking at each wall and a color 3-D version so you can see it and almost feel it.

From the original questioner:
I really appreciate the time you took to look at my site and the constructive ideas. I will be forwarding these responses to my new web site designer and go over them one by one. I am still looking for some good sites to get some more visual inspiration from and have found a few. Although it is true that I am paying a web designer to remake my site, these guys are into marketing and layout, but cannot be in the know for every trade and the more examples and why I like them will help.