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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Please comment on and offer any advice on our new website: http://buildingvalue.com

It is a work in progress (new projects will be added and some more content) and I plan on adding some more photos of our work, but generally I am pretty happy with it.

After getting an estimate for over $2,000 to design a similar site, I went and built it myself.

It has the photo gallery on the front page, contact page/emailer, and fully embedded wordpress blog that I can update daily to get very good search engine placement.

I feel pretty comfortable with the program too, so if anyone is interested in a similar site, let me know.
 

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Overall, I liked it. I did think the slide show changed a bit too quickly(that's just my personal opinion). You may want to include pics when you can on your blog; people love that stuff. If you tag them right it will help for image engine searches. Also, maybe, as you continue to develop this site, you could add a link for each title on your services page. It would help anyone wanting to see more of your work.

Again, I liked the site, these are just suggestions.
 

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I'd 86 the pictures of demo/unfinished projects from the home page slide show. They don't look good unless they are paired in a before/after format (side by side). You want first time visitors to see your most beautiful work RIGHT AWAY. Keeping people on your site is one of the biggest challenges for a website (think bounce rate). Your first impression grade in that regard is a D-. Save the demo pics for a before & after section.

I like that it's clean... But your section heads (on the home page) don't pack any punch. "Free Estimates" is white noise... As is "Licensed, Bonded, Insured". It's info that should be in an ABOUT US section, but as I said--hooking people into staying is the most important job for your home page. The internet is NOT a glorified pamphlet. Headlines. Write some section heads that are benefit and keyword heavy.

It's great you have a blog--content is king, both with search engines and with your visitors.

You need to flesh out your ABOUT US. To get people to call, you have to connect with them. Tell me a story. Tell me how you got here. Stories are a powerful way to communicate who you are, and why a prospect should want to hire you. Even more powerful, get your past clients to write the story of their experience with you.

You need more eye candy. Get some pictures up there for your articles.
 

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It's not so much that we're being overly critical, we just want to give real advice and opinions. The site is good, and can be even better with some improvements. A site that never changes, that doesn't evolve constantly, will not have it's desired effect... more business leads. He has a good base design, he just needs to (in my opinion) continue to tweak and add to it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for all the suggestions so far. I was really wondering if the demo pictures were a good idea or not. I'm glad that you mentioned it, so now that I have confirmation, they are gone.

Also, the PFD (Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend) is the check that they mail out to all residents in October from the oil reserves $$. A lot of folks use that money as discretionary spending $.

I will also try to get some more images up there so it doesn't look as plain.

Any other suggestions or additions. I have think skin! :thumbup:
 

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Construction Connoissuer
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Tested it at http://www.websitegrader.com/

You scored a 4 which is very low. Don't get me wrong it looks good, but you are missing the most important things like keywords, meta data, and page titles. By no means do I think the grader is gospel, but it will show you what you are missing and some ways to improve it.
You definetly need to go in and set up these other areas, get that stuff figured out and it will help rank your site, and help with SEO. Right now yes you have a site, but it isn't of much justice :no: without a lot more work!
 

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No problem, glad I could help. I am in the same boat as you, I am designing my site, and I have a lot of stuff to still add. I will get it eventually, and I will have saved myself some money. :thumbsup: I was quoted $1800 to build mine,..:whistling I will work my fingers, and mind to save that dough, and in the end I will have educated myself along the way! :clap:

My site has only been up for a couple weeks, and already is a valuable asset since I have had many leads, and sold some work along the way.
Once I figure out some things and update it, I should have even better results. :w00t:
 

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It is a work in progress (new projects will be added and some more content) and I plan on adding some more photos of our work, but generally I am pretty happy with it.

There are really two ways I see people going ...

1) Meet a web designer and have them make it flashy and wow them with amazing graphics. Spend at least $5000 because you really have nothing to say and you need to distract visitors from realizing that you have nothing to say.

OR

2) Build it yourself because you really have something to say about your capabilities.

So start with ...

<html>
<head></head>
<body></body>
</html>

and go from there. This way you aren't being distracted by html software that ask you what color to make the header border etc. and instead you are thinking of what to actually say.

So what if your site looks like it was made in the 1990's. Here are two sites that look simple but are very effective.

http://www.infiltec.com (beautiful site)
http://www.london-counselling-psychotherapy.co.uk

Spend 99.9% of your time on your business creating great products and taking great pictures. Then just add them to you site.

If I were a contractor this is what I would do:

1) learn how to take great pictures. maybe get a low light camera but learn how to get the lighting right etc. There is one person here that has amazing pictures but the rest you you are just terrible.

2) build a site like Infiltec

3) add good content and get links from other sites
 

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Are you guys contractors or web designers?

OK, I know there are some members here who are very capable of building a good web site, but here's what I usually see happening. You get quoted $1800, or $2000, or even $3k to $5k, so you decide to DIY. Next, the choices are one of those instant website builders, a template, or buy one of the fancy web programs like the pros use. So you spend valuable time working on the site instead of your business.

Once you build it, you may get a few leads, or you might not, but unless you have a really good understanding of marketing on the web, the results are rarely all that great.

OTOH, what if the designer quoting you that "expensive" price could build an effective site in a short amount of time? Even at the $5k price, how long should it take to recover your investment if it gave you even a couple extra jobs a month? Why would you want to learn a whole new trade of web design instead of making money doing contracting?

That doesn't automatically mean that every web designer is worth their price, but I can safely say that almost every DIY web site will lack the results you are hoping for. There are some highly effective DIY web sites, but they usually require months to years of hard work to acieve that, just like a good web designer requires that kind of experience to get results for their clients.

I hope that doesn't seem too harsh after you obviously worked hard to create this, but I believe it will help if you take it to heart. A finished web site should reach out and grab the visitor before they bounce off. It should capture their attention and make them want to do business with you. Like Chris said, your content doesn't do that.
 

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Construction Connoissuer
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Sounds like a Sales Pitch to me, Lord knows I have heard a lot of them!

I can't speak for the OP, but I will speak for myself.

To answer your question I am a business owner, with that being said. I have built our business from the ground up over the last ten years, started out doing mostly sub-contracting such as framing new residential construction, and additions (none of which required any advertising and/or marketing). Over the years things have gotten more and more complex. Web presence just adds more to the big picture.
I have always been in charge of: Sales, Marketing, Advertising, Book keeping, Taxes, Purchasing, Supervision, and many, many more key areas. I see every project out to the last detail, and to the last dollar. I take pride in every aspect of our company. Web presence is no different :no:.
Sure I could throw dollar after dollar, at a web geek and say here you go, just make it work. But at the end of the day I would have no personal satifaction about how I got there. I not only want to make the best decisions for our company, but it is very important to me to know what works and what doesn't, and how we got where we are today.
I am not saying I want to be a web designer, I just want to learn what works in my field, construction, home improvements, and remodeling.
To me I really don't care if it takes me years to learn what I need, at least I know I will have a clue how I got there. And joe smo, still won't know what works, and will still be throwing money at it,..Without being able to explain whether his dollar actually worked, or did it?
I have heard from many business owners over the years, that "Half their advertising money is a waste, But they don't know which half". I myself have thrown away plenty of money on attempts that actually had no return at all. I want to know what works and what doesn't simply put!
I don't need someone saying "oh that won't work your doing it wrong". That is my decision to decide.

To be honest your sales pitch doesn't sound any different than the 60 other web geeks that call the office trying to pry into my pocket. :no: If SEO guys can be beating my door down to sell me there great services, and there is sooo many of them. (worse than contractors), That tells me that most of them think "anybody can do it". Reminds me of the hacks in the construction field. I have no doubt your good at what you do, but I am not buying, :no:
I will proudly learn what I need to learn in due time, and will be far more educated then the competition, that pays for there service, designs, etc. but could not tell you anything about ROI.

Enough on my thoughts, hope that my personal beliefs and construction slang, wasn't to harsh for your Web geek/ SEO ears, or aspects. :laughing:

Good day!
 

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Crow, I completely understand your perspective. I won't fault you at all for being willing to learn everything you needed to know to be successful. That is a valid approach and you have proven that it works. You have also demonstrated that it takes a lot of time, and everything worthwhile does.

There are essentially two ways to approach business and every business person needs to choose which they prefer. Personality type pretty much determines which one you will most likely choose so it's not a question of right or wrong because both work. You effectively summed up one of those appoaches. I actually am a lot like you, but I'm learning to switch to the other side because in 20 years I will be 68 and I want something much greater than I will ever have with my natural thinking.

Let me quickly outline some of the difference since I don't need to add anything to what you said.

Many business people want to not only enjoy the rewards of building a successful business, they want to be able to have that business run without them. They want something they can sell or pass on to their kids. This requires setting aside the "control freak" tendencies and giving others they freedom they need to do their job effectively. I'm not fortunate enough to be this way naturally, so I'm forced to learn the skill.

These business people do not insist on doing it themselves, they surround themselves with others who have skills they either don't have, or maybe they do have but they recognize they still need others. Either way, they accomplish much more, much faster than control freaks like you and I ever could. I've had my current company for over 7 years. If you are where I was at 7 years ago in my understanding of the Internet, you could shave 7 years off your learning curve by hiring me. It might not be as satisfying, but it will be profitable.

Besides, if I showed up here wanting to start a contracting business you would classify me as a hack because I have never owned a contracting biz in my life. Since I do have basic carpentry skills, I could learn, but you would still know I will never be as good as you are, and I will be facing many obstacles you learned to overcome years ago. You'd probably laugh at me. Yet when contractors decide to build their own web sites, that's considered normal by the majority. I rarely speak up either because it's obviously a sales pitch when I say anything.
 

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I personally like the layout and design. You have quite a few possibilities with this type of design and room for expansion. I would assume you're using a CMS like WP? I use that for my own site so feel free to contact me if you have questions.

Content wise you have a bit of refining to do but I think you have "the hardest" part done with the layout and design. Just a matter of working on the content that will bring you customers. I'd use a few more pics throughout the site. Come up with a logo. Add an address or atleast city, state, zip code for local search SEO. You can include a google map on your site, there's a WP plugin to include one. Make your email address a link / clickable.

I'd redo the Services page, the Headings and one liner descriptions seems fake to me. A bit blunt but I think it's food for though when you have time.

On your blog page, I'd remove the Blogroll widget (or change the links if you want to keep it) and definitely remove the Meta widget. Keeping those makes the site look amateur IMO. If you do twitter or facebook I'd add a plugin to pull in your updates onto the sidebar. Also if you have pictures or plan to take them regularly of projects, think about a Flickr account and add a Flickr plugin to your site to display "the latest pictures" usually the last 4-8 is common.

Contact me w/ any Q's
 

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I think you'll come across different opinions but hosting on a site like flickr offers SEO advantages. You can get flickr users finding your pics and coming to your site, building traffic, and possibly bumping up your ranking. It's easier to manage your photos. Make sure you copyright them though and don't allow them for commercial use. You can set that up in the settings section. Just use the URL of your pics when using them on your site.

If you're using a content management system like wordpress, you can get a widget/plugin that displays your most recent flickr uploads and people can put the RSS stream of your flickr photostream into their newsreader. There's a limit as to how much you can upload per month but it shouldn't be an issue for the casual user which I think we all fall into. If you're uploading pics everyday... you might reach the limit but you can get the pay account if uploading so many pictures is that important to you.
 
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