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Need advice on websites, i want to take my business to the web but i'm having trouble choosing a site builder, i may choose to build and maintaint myself. Anyone have any ideas? what service do you use for your site? did you build it? etc... THANKS!
 

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Non-conformist
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Welcome to the forum. This discussion has taken place many times here, so I suggest using the search feature to go through some of the posts here, especially the difference between DIY and hiring a pro.

Since I am a web guy, you can expect me to advise against the DIY approach. I won't disappoint you because there are a lot of good reasson to hire a pro. The one key point I think is important in choosing that person is how long they've been in business. Most web sites are a big disappointment to their owners, so choosing someone who has kept their clients happy over the long haul is important.

Another good reason to hire a pro vs. DIY is the learning curve. Unless you have already studied web marketing and feel very confident about it, you could be looking at months to years to get a decent return off your web site. An experienced web person could have you making money very quickly rather than stumbling through the learning curve while you could be making a profit.

Even if you only get a couple jobs or so per month, what's that worth? Thousands probably. And it keeps going month after month if you hire the right person. If it takes 6, 9 or 12 months to get decent sales, you miss out on a lot of profit. Also, the web site is rarely a stand alone marketing tool. Don't spend money on a web site at the cost of not doing other marketing. You might already know this, but I thought it was important to mention.

Since you are new, I hope you will look through the threads in this section. There are a lot of great ideas to market your business both online, offline, and combining the two for effectiveness. It will be well worth the time you invest.
 

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Anyone have any ideas? what service do you use for your site? did you build it? etc... THANKS!

Try short, light flash videos. They don't need to download until you press play and so don't slow down normal browsing. Here is a video I placed in the header.

I grabbed it from the YP directory to test the setup but it is hosted on my server and so no branding needed.

If you have a $100 flip HD video camera you can take these as often as you like, convert it into flash and upload it to your server. If you look on YouTube you see lots of companies are doing similar things.
 

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Project Manager
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Definitely find someone to build and manage, not a DIY thing, especially when you have a business to run.

Product will never look as good as a professional, and they know the ins and outs of keywords, graphics, adwords campaigns, etc.

Find a local guy or I know we have a few in-house experts.

Definitely worth the extra $$ to have a professional handle it.
 

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The Old Master
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92 Posts
I use Weebly.com and for our purposes it works very well.
When this post was made the other day I sent a private e-mail to AmeliaP. I asked her to give me a link to her web site using weebly.com
she did and I was impressed for I was looking for a place to store and link to ... Reason I had this stuff on Yahoo's Geo-Cities but that is going be taken down (end) on 10/26/2009. Well thanks to Amelia I signed up on the weebly.com site (no charge). First thing I put on was a mock up piece about the former Bethlehem Steel. You can see it at www.plumberbill.weebly.com I called the site "a little of this & a little of that".
 

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Pay to have it done. Joomla is great because once they lay out everything, then you can add content to it, like articles on jobs you did and those towns. It helps out.

Joomla is a great program, once you figure out how to install it, and use it.

I for one right now, am using Site Builder with yahoo, and Have no Complaints, But i will be having a professional re do my pressure washing site, In the coming weeks. Find 2 or 3 key words or key phrases that you want to target in each page, and optimize those key words, it will give you a great benefit in search results. Also building up links to your site is very beneficial.

Forums like thease are great for link building, While the quality of the back link may not rank so high, So link its self is better than nothing, So make sure your signature has a link to your site.


John
 

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Web Dude
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153 Posts
My $.02

I'm definitely from the get a pro to do it camp (mostly because that's what I do for a living, but also because I know the results are far better).

When you are building a new website, or having one done for you, always always always have it built on a Content Management System (CMS).

There are tons of commercial and open source (read free) options available, but every single one of them would benefit from having a pro at least set up the site (working in php and databases), and designing the site (coding in html, xhtml, and css). Not including the experience a web company brings to the table when building a site to make you money. If that was a lot of geek speak for you, you could probably benefit from a web pro.

Or web dude, which is much, much cooler. ;)

As stated above, Joomla is the second to last free CMS when it comes to usability for newbies. Drupal owns that top spot, I wouldn't even waste my time checking out Drupal if you don't understand and love coding.

However, like most things, once you get past Joomla's initial learning curve (or have someone build and set up the site for you and you do the updates) I find it to be the most powerful free CMS in town. Tons of functionality, tons of flexiblity, it can do just about anything I ask of it.

I love it so much I built my site on it, and probably 90% of the ones I do for clients.

Wordpress is another good option, and is super easy to use. However, it lacks the same amount of flexiblity and is really suited towards the bloggers than more static type content users (business owners).

No matter which road you go down (open source or commercial) make absolutely sure your website is built on a CMS!!!

It will save you so many headaches down the road you will consider naming your first born child after me just for giving you that advice.


It is a million times easier to update content, add pages and functionality (forms, plugins, galleries, slideshows, the flashy stuff), and to change the design of your site.


@ JustLoveGarde

This is the second time I've seen you advertise this free SMS thing, and the first time it sounded kind of spammy to me, and now that you have used almost the exact same text I'm getting nervous.

"If you have the term free as a keyword and you have a free service on your website, search engines pick this up and your site will be featured in the search results on the main part of the Google page."

That part isn't true and is horrible advice.

I'm not here to pee in your cheerios if you are legit, but here is the HUGE problem I see with using that script.

Since you aren't hosting it, you don't control the list
.

It's a third party program, it's not yours. That means that when someone submits their phone number, that goes into a database for you AND the third party company supplying it. Why would they offer this free of charge? My assumption, and it's pretty obvious, would be that they are creating a spam messaging list.

If that is the case, guess how pumped your customers are going to be when they find out you "gave" their phone number to a spam company?

.... Not very pleased at all, I'd imagine.

Not a good way at all to control the safety and privacy of your customers contact information. There are a couple of scripts that I know of that are SMS enabled, that are self hosted on your website. They aren't free, but they are also only controlled by you. No leakage to unsavory salesman.

Basic Law of Free Software That Collects Contact Information For You and Isn't Hosted By You Personally #493-1 Section A Part 1

DON'T FRIGGIN USE IT


In summation, a legit web dude is always a good investment, and stay away from 3rd party contact capture systems.

In the words of Arnold, I'll be back...

...to answer any questions you may have.
 

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The Finisher
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1,396 Posts
Let a pro build it for you. If you track your leads, you'll quickly notice the quality that come from your website are the best you will get. It's just as good as a refferal from a past customer.
 

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Web Dude
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153 Posts
Two quick things

@ Zinsco

First off all, SEO isn't brain surgery. It's not hard to grasp the basics, for sure. But saying it's going to take 5 minutes to learn is incredibly misleading, and is a HUGE problem as to why people fail online. Not only is it going to take time for someone to learn the skills, it's going to take an even longer time for them to get ranked highly, if at all.

SEO is never and will never be a one shot deal. You have to consistently work at maintaining your rankings or you're going to drop. Paying for SEO is a fantastic way to prolong your life expectancy, because doing SEO sucks. It's boring, it's tedious, and it's time consuming. Pay a pro to get your ranked quicker, and save yourself the hassle.

If it only took 5 minutes to learn and it's easy, why isn't everyone getting top rankings?

@ Hammer and Nail

This may come off poorly, but don't take it as a personal attack.

Your statement is the exact same as if I said "DIY your addition, all contractors will rip you off. Go here it's free (insert DIY forum link)"

You certainly can DIY a website, and there a ton of great free tools out there to help you, your results will almost always be far less than what a pro can do.

While there certainly are some shady web developers (just like contractors), I would say they are in the minority.

When it comes to something as important and long lasting to your business, as well as a major marketing tool, why would you risk it flopping? It sounds like you got burned by a web fella, and if you did that sucks.

I just checked out your site, and I could understand your comments better if your site was grade A.

Here are the things I picked up on just your home page

Page heading is in three different fonts (regular, bold, and italic underlined) Why?

Design is poor, way too cluttered, there is no hierarchy. What's important? What should the visitor do? Why should the visitor continue into the interior pages?

Difficult to read and scan text, testimonial fonts are way too small

No compelling call to action for the visitor, not moving the process along

No way to capture visitors contact information so you control the marketing

Incredible keyword stuffing at the bottom of the page, Google will slap you

That's just design. Then I went to SEO.

Your Title Tag is way way way too long, and is going to hurt your rankings.

Same with your description tag, you cant just stuff it full and expect to rank. It doesn't work like that, and negatively effects your rankings

The keywords in your keyword tag are all mashed together, and again, you have way too many. You only separated a few of them with commas like you're suppose to, so Google sees it as one giant long tail keyword. Just because I know it was a mistake, I separated them and did some keyword research on all of them.

Of the 20 unique keywords you have listen in your keywords tag (which I am assuming since you put them there you want to rank for them) you are in the top 100 pages of Google for 5 of them.

keyword a window that operates poorly You are position Number 1

keyword illinois window and door service You are position Number 2

keyword door adjustments and replacements You are position Number 10

keyword illinois window You are position Number 24

keyword glass inserts for doors You are position Number 71


For the other 15 keywords you have targeted you aren't even in the top 100 results.

I wouldn't think the ones you do have ranked are exactly bringing in the traffic.

(if you want more detailed analysis I would be happy to do it for you completely free of charge)

I don't do all of this to bring you down, or say you're a web hack. I do it because you're saying that web designers will rip you off and DIY results will be the same.

Clearly, this isn't always the case. Don't lump us all in with crooks, some of us know what we are doing
 

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Non-conformist
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Justin, you're much nicer than I am. I wouldn't have even dignified those posts with a response. Blanket statements are never true and no successful business person would have been influenced by such nonsense. I do suspect you may be right about Hammer Nail being taken by a web designer, but assuming the entire industry is corrupt is an extreme overreaction. For the most part, I'm glad some people feel this way. It makes my job helping clients who know better much easier. If every site I built or optimized had to compete with real pros, the prices we'd have to charge would have a lot more shock value than they do now.
 

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Building a website

I may be a little bit late into this conversation, but here is my two cents worth.

I was just asked this question at a seminar I gave for the Home Builders Association in Chattanooga, my answer is this, if you enjoy the techie type stuff you may do well building your own website.

If you don't enjoy it or just don't have the time to invest, just pay to have it built.

Some of the things you may want to think about:

  • Keyword research -This is really important for getting your website found in search engines where you want it to be found.
  • Search Engine Optimization - Submitting your site to search engines and social sites is critical.
  • Ease of use - if your site isn't easy to use and find info people will click out and go elsewhere.
If any of those three things looks like it may give you problems you may want to hire it out.

If you decide to hire it out, be sure to ask if keyword research is included and what if any Search Engine Optimization is included.

When I build a website for someone I have a form I fill out with a lot of questions that allow me to know exactly what you want your website to do for you and who your target customer is.

Of course I sign a non-disclosure agreement and I would go as far as saying if the person you work with doesn't need a non-disclosure agreement they may not be getting enough information from you to provide the best website.
 

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Proprietor
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If you went to an estimate and the homeowner said: "We've been thinking about doing this job ourselves, but..."

What would you say?

The same is prevalent for aspects in dealing with your marketing.
Sure, you can't print business cards in a $50 printer at home on some tear apart Avery sheets.
You can print flyers on neon green paper and stick them in people's newspaper slots.

Or, you can subcontract things like building a web site to more qualified online marketing persons who deal with these type of projects on a continual basis.

I would start by defining who your target market is.
Are they homeowners? General Contractors? Commercial business?
What are the demographics? age range? where are they located?
What are your users interests? How do they think? What makes them buy?

These are some questions to help build "personas" of the different users that will engage in your site.

There are some other considerations to designing a website other than looks that I wrote about in a past article.
 
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