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Deck Designer/Builder
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Discussion Starter #1
To all,

Well, I finally got around to setting up my own website through a website provider. I can usually figure out the basics of most software packages I use - I've self taught myself just about everything I use by just playing around. So, I used their WebSite Creator by using a shell and going from there.

Anyway, I know the site I set-up isn't overly sophisticated and doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles. What I'm asking for is some feedback from everyone here as to what you think about the site. The format was a shell from the provider but all the content is mine.

It's www.decksetc.org

I would appreciate any and all constructive comments.

Thanks,
 

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Nice site. Can you move your areas to one side and throw in a pic? I think that it would make a big difference on your homepage.
 

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Upper left hand corner place a picture. There is an empty square now.

Upper center should be your logo, remove the white background.

Under "Our company is based in Ajax, Ontario and we service all of the areas you see listed below:" and next to " Ajax" YOu need another picture.

Your counter counts refreshes. That's bad. Get a counter which distinguishes between viusitors and page views.

consultation requests should be just "Consultation"
 

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I like the overall site. I'm sure you are planning to add pictures which is always a bonus. People love to look at pictures. Your logo on your home page (top right) looks off balance, not sure if its the size or location. I would be interested in how many jobs you get from your site. :Thumbs:
 

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Deck Designer/Builder
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Discussion Starter #5
As always, thanks for the suggestions. Keep them coming.

A few comments about the suggestions so far...

1. Just added a picture to the home page above the service areas.

2. Re: Upper left hand corner. There was a limited number of pictures to select from and none really suited my business. I tried to put my logo there but couldn't quite figure out how - I'll keep working on it though.

3. Re: logo. I had a friend who is a graphic designer do my logo. The only format of it that he could give me was a .jpg file that had the white background. I didn't have a program that would read his design software format. Now that I have the site up I'll see if he can help me out again. I don't really like the white background but it works for my contracts, letterhead, etc. The original image he did is much, much clearer too. Also, I may just abandon the whole left corner and put a larger logo right in the centre like you suggest grumpy.

4. Re: counter. I added the "stock" counter that the software provided and didn't really fiddle with it. I don't like the fact it counts the "refreshes". I really do want visitors only. Again, I'll go back through the software and see what I can do.

5. There are pictures on the "photos" page or where you referring to the home page?

Thanks again guys!
 

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Deck Designer/Builder
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Discussion Starter #9
Grumpy said:
All images are not linking. You messed it up.
Grumpy, I'm not following you when you say the imapges are not linking.


Paul, thanks for doing the .gif format for me but when I save it and then upload it, the white background is still there partially and it looks really messy. I'll keep working on it.
 

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You are looking good and on your way!

Okay, now for the fun...

What the hell is the deal with the strawberries?

.org - what are you a non profit?

Seriously, looks good, I like the work you have done, nice stuff!
 

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Deck Designer/Builder
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Discussion Starter #11
.com was gone and .org seemed like the next best thing.

the strawberries are gone - that was an "oops" that was there for less than 5 min. It figures you'd be the one to see it!
 

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Grumpy, are you talking about the second photo? It's just slow to load. I thought the same thing and then, there it was.
 

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Deck Designer/Builder
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Discussion Starter #14
I was thinking about making the photos smaller to fit more in but I didn't want to have them too slow loading. It's hard to know exactly how many to post.

The testimonials were great to get. I'll be using the feedback form idea this year and then adding more as they come in. Customers get an added sense of pride when they see their testimonials and photos of their own decks on a website. I'm thinking it will help with the "word of mouth" type of advertising too. People can tell their friends " go to this guy's website. You can see some pictures of my new deck!" - that kind of idea.
 

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Some opinions....

I hope that my critiques will be taken as constructive criticism... I am NOT slamming your work. In fact many of the things that people tend to leave out you covered and I like the general setup and "flow" of the site. I have developed my opinions from the several sites I have made.

Here is my input for improvement for what it is worth:

1) The red coloring just does not do it for me. You are selling a warm rich earth-based product, not shampoo. ;) I would think that a wood grain or at least tan-brown might give you more of the "feel" you want. Wood especially decking is 'warm' and 'homey' I'd consider this in selection of color for the site.

2) Slightly related the red print on grey background can boggle some people's eyes and make it hard to see, much like bright royal blue writing on black backgrounds. To some it looks great others have a hard time with it.

3) You might want to consider a mailing address on your contact page. Also I'd consider the line about booking a consultation. Sounds too pushy to me. Rather you might want to invite questions and offer help. Sure it means the same thing, but it has a nicer edge to it.

4) Most importantly, I would consider getting a TOP NOTCH or better yet a professionally done photo for the front page. Again, you want it rich and looking particularly lovely. The (please forgive me) snapshot-like photos are fairly okay for a photos page, but you need someting that looks like a shot out of fine woodworking magazine for the front page. It should have depth, warmth, be easy on the shadows, be crisp and clear, be colorful, and be well staged. I would lose anything that has eye-pulling background that pulls your eyes away from the deck. You want your visitor's focus to be so totally on YOUR work that they don't see anything else. The cool house in the background and the covered BBQ in the current photo are examples of what I'd lose. Particularly for a front page photo.

5) As for your photo size worries, you can make the initial photos small and then give the user the choice of loading big, bigger, and stupidly-big size photos. Hit this page and scroll down toward the bottom for an example of what I am talking about. You are VERY astute in keeping the page loads quick, but for those who are really interested there is nothing like an oversize photo (if it is a good one of a great product) like this one to get the customer on the phone. Do give visitors the option of more eye candy link to a larger photo from small ones.

6) Finally, you want your pages to be STICKY. That means you want the visitor to stay on the site as long as you possibly can. This will mean that they go to many pages on the site, each time seeing your logo and being tacitly invited to click to your sales area. How to do this? One way is a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page or better yet set of pages. This is a good start. Better still is a detailed guide to selecting product, choosing a contractor, different materials and their relative value to a project, and whatever else you feel free to share with the competition and the world. Remember YOU know your product, the public does not. Giving them a chance to understand how a deck is made, what to look for in materials and workmanship etc are all important. They have time to kill on the web, let them kill it and learn it from your site. Thats your first favor to them, the hope is they will see it as such and CALL. It also keeps them on your site longer.

Click here for my more general ideas about website design if you are interested in the mindset.

I hope this helps a little.
Charles
 

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I want.....No! I NEED one of those pistols, maybe 2. What a functional work of art.
Charles may fit in nicely here, I've been thinking of a site, had a domain for years.
 

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I want.....No! I NEED one of those pistols, maybe 2. What a functional work of art.
Tetor, John Jardine does simply AMAZING work. He runs a closed shop but has allowed me to watch him a bit .... I have never met a man more in tune with detail and more passionate over his work. His semi custom stuff is the Valtro line. last I heard he was taking orders 2 YEARS out on those.... Unsure how far out the ordering is for a full-on custom but I bet its longer.

I had the opportunity to shoot several of these guns and I can not say enough good things. Accuracy is the least pleasureable part... and it was the most accurate handgun I have ever had the opportunity to use.

Charles may fit in nicely here(...)
:eek: *blush* Well thanks Tetor.... I must warn ya however that I am one of those DIY /homeowner bums that you guys were talking about in this thread I was refered here from TheHighRoad.org when I asked about a certain project and before I read the link above I'd already posted my dumb questions :)

Still...
I wanted to address this before but thought better of it.. I think I'll do so now that I have been bestowed such a fine compliment.

Does anybody else get the feeling that we are becoming a DIY source of info? In other words, slicing our own throats?
The problem with the DIY sites is that they have either low volume or are populated by other DIY people that are barely qualified to use elmer's glue on popsicle sticks. When dealing with an investment the size of my home, I cherish the opportunity to have a exponentially better caliber of advisors.

As for cutting your throat... perhaps, but perhaps not. Most will DIY either way and with your advice they may well DIY RIGHT rather than DIY WRONG. In my case, I do not have the money to hire someone to caluk my shower, and rahter than learning by trial and error, getting help from you guys first would have been a godsend a year ago.

Similarly, I also am well aware of my limitations. If a project is over my head or I am not comfortable with it, I WILL hire it out. Leaning from this site is part of that process. Talking to you, perhaps getting a referal, and ceratinlty learning the questions to ask a GC or specialty person makes me a more informed buyer and keeps me from posting a note elsewhere badmouthing the trades in general. You provide me with a service that keeps your fellows honest.

Charles may fit in nicely here, I've been thinking of a site, had a domain for years.
If there are any questions I can answer for you PLEASE do let me know. I have been pretty inactive (by choice) on webdesign for the last year... It's not my main income source and we had one customer that just blew me away with the GARBAGE I had to put up with for the long hours we worked and the incredible number of revisions and re-do's we did trying to make him happy. (we contractually only had to do one revision before bail-out - we did something liek 27 trying to please this guys changing whims) . My wife and I got VERY frustrated and just set it aside but for the sites we were maintaining currently.

Still, for you.. :Thumbs: Lets jsut say I have a good impression. I have been online since the internet was ARPAnet and you get a feel for folks to some small degree. I have watched you answer lots of people and help out on a couple of sites...I'd be happy to answer most anyhting you might have on your mind having to do with website creation and search engine tuning. Please do not hessitate to let me know. I'm NOT an expert just an opinionated hobbiest. :cheesygri
 

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Terry, I like it. Looks like you've incorporated alot of the items in the posts above. I'd agree that the logo needs work, but otherwise, looks pretty respectable to me..
 
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