Construction Websites-What’s The Minimum?
Construction Websites…and more specifically, website design, isn’t a set it and forget it proposition. Especially not in today’s fast-moving world of algorithm changes and SEO updates. And since the competition is fierce to gain new customers, it’s essential for contractors to develop an online presence through social media and other forms of contractor marketing to develop a solid campaign and website design that brings in plenty of marketing opportunities. The most vital part of your company’s online presence is your website, so it must have the essential elements required to draw people in and keep them there.
Your brand image must be consistent throughout your company’s communications. A shared color scheme, logo, and tagline should be an essential part of any printed material and signage you use. This applies to your website as well. For those who know you, your website should be immediately identified based on these familiar elements. For new or prospective clients, your website is often your initial contact. This first impression should set the stage for your relationship with them and express your brand image.
Navigation & The Construction Website’s Design Element
More related to the nuts and bolts of your website than the attractiveness of its appearance, the ease and responsiveness of navigation is vital. There is no better secret tip or secret sauce to construction marketing than this one point; your website navigation is THE key. With millions of pages to visit, blogs to read and social platforms to interact on, people are not going to feel around in the dark to find what they are looking for. Navigation must be intuitive and quick, with menus and links making all important information easily located with no more than one or two clicks.
Mobility and Construction Websites
No longer are your customers seated in front of a large PC monitor when they view your webpage. In fact, chances are they are doing the opposite and trying to find something on your website while using a two-inch-wide smartphone screen. As more and more people turn to phones, tablets, and other mobile devices for web browsing, you must ensure that your website is designed to adjust to these channels. If your website cannot be easily viewed or is functionality limited on mobile devices, you could be losing sales.
Content and Construction Websites
It’s an old adage but no less true, “Content is King.” If your website is not giving potential customers the information that they need, they are going to find a competitor’s website that will. Feature well-written content that serves your client’s needs, not just what you want them to hear. Include an impressive gallery so they can see past work. Offer to answer questions with a contact form that is not simply a request for a quote. Also, consider writing a blog for constant communication and a way of offering helpful tips and specials to your clients. More on content below.
Each of the images on your webpage must be professional quality, but keep them to the minimum size required for optimal viewing without slowing down the performance of your website. You can insert watermarks on your images so when images are shared across social media, you gain additional impressions for your brand. More on images later.
The goal is to create an interactive conversation on construction websites. Invite comments on your blog posts and respond when you receive them. Encourage website visitors to sign up for your email newsletter or contact you for more information on a construction project they are considering. Have clear, easy to use social media share buttons and plenty of calls to action that invite your clients to do something. The more interaction they have with you, the more loyal they will become.
Understand, the items listed above are the ante, they are the minimum needed for a high-performing website. If your site isn’t delivering on its promise, maybe our contractor website design is exactly what the contractor ordered!
Construction Websites: Design is Like New Construction
Designing a great website is a lot like building a house. As a contractor, you know that it is important to use quality materials and expert skills at every level of home construction. The same is true for your professional construction website design. If you do things right the first time, the work is less expensive and stressful in the long run. Skimping on quality rarely pays off.
The basis of your website has to be a quality design that can be developed to change and expand as your business does. When you build a house, the first weeks are spent laying a foundation that will enable the house to stand secure for years to come. Your construction website design works the same way.
It is possible to pay less for a website than what you will invest in a professional, customized site, but will those inexpensive options stand the test of time. You know that a home needs to be built with high-quality materials by skilled tradesmen if it is to last. For your website to effectively serve your business, it needs to be built on a firm foundation of good design.
A professionally designed website will be responsive, SEO optimized, and easy to navigate. All these are expected elements that visitors notice if they fail to be present. The design of your website is the secure structure that houses your company’s brand and message. As with home construction, the development of your website requires the right tools and the right people to ensure successful results.
Once a home is properly built, it is not a home that can be comfortably lived in until the rooms are filled. The house may be beautiful, but it lacks usefulness. This is the way your website content operates for your construction website design.
Content is important for two vital reasons. First, it drives your website’s SEO, or search engine optimization. When search engines crawl the internet looking for the best websites to match the terms entered by your potential customers, they need to find those terms in your content. If your content proves to be unsatisfying, your search engine ranking will plummet. Therefore, you cannot just populate your website with text, but you must fill your rooms with functional, inviting furnishings.
The second job of your website content is to keep your target audience engaged. The first challenge of having them find and visit your site has been met. Now you need to keep them there and convince them to frequently return. This will only occur if you have website content that serves a purpose for them. In other words, it can’t simply be a sales pitch. Your content needs to give them information that they need or entertain them in a way that is different than what someone else is offering.
In the case of a construction website design, your content should be valuable to homeowners who may eventually need work on their home or decide to perform renovations. Maintaining a blog that offers homeowners advice on home maintenance, seasonal tips, or exclusive notice of special offers will help you build your customer base. We may enter a beautiful room now and then to admire it, but a useful room is one that we use every day. Make sure that your website content is the kind of thing that your clients will return for.
Curb Appeal: Images
You know that the interior of a house can be gorgeous, but potential buyers will only know that if the exterior draws them inside. The curb appeal of the homes you build needs to be inviting and attractive for clients to notice how practical or appealing the inside might be. In the same way, your website needs to be professionally attractive. It cannot have the appearance of an amateur website or basic template design.
High-quality images and graphics give your construction website design the curb appeal that it needs to catch people’s attention. The finishing touches to your website draw attention to the quality content and encourage readers to share it with their friends, generating leads, and increasing sales. Professional construction website design will make sure that curb appeal includes strong branding, so that visitors recognize and remember your company and your website.
Practical Construction Websites and Design: Your Gallery
When you go to an art gallery, do you see the blank canvas hanging on the wall? Do you see a perfectly formed tube of paint sitting there on a stool along with a brush still stiff from it’s packaging?
No, you see a painting or sculpture presented to you in all of its finished glory!
So why on earth would you put before pictures on your gallery page? I know the answer, but it’s wrong. Your galley is supposed to be your verifiable proof that you can do what you say you can throughout the rest of your site.
Having a picture of a tattered home’s exterior with the shutter falling off next to a shiny new image of the same exterior DOESN’T help you sell. It confuses.
People look at these pictures and wonder ‘what did they do here?’ or ‘what am I supposed to be looking for?’
I can hear your response already…But Darren, how about if I label them before/after?
Which “Gallery” is more appealing to Your Clients & Customers?
I refer you back to paragraph one and ask you this question…Do you prefer to think or dream?
If you like to think more than dream, good for you, but your prospect is on your gallery right now dreaming. She is imagining herself in her new space and dreaming about it. Sure, she will think about it at some point, but right now, she is living in a fantasy world where she doesn’t want to think ‘does this picture go with this room or is it over here?’
In good construction web design, the trick is to not make people think, and this is especially true with your gallery page. You can use before and after pics in other places on your site (we normally don’t. but you can) but leave the gallery for the pretty pictures!
Since each page of your site ranks independently, visitors may never see your homepage. This means you have to make the topic of the page the most visible part of the page. For example, if you are a remodeler and the reader shows up on your bathroom remodeling page, make those words the biggest text on the page. Put it in your headline, sub-heads, bullets and bold and italics.
Not only is it giving the search engines a better idea as what the main point of the page is, but you are helping your reader get at what they want…information on what they searched for in the first place!
When you design your site, design it with passion. Passion is what conveys from the pages to your reader. And readers buy with passion. If you can write content for your website that has YOUR passion for your work baked in, I promise you will have more clients or customers contacting you.
Setting Your Site Up To Succeed!
Knowing a little about site design and website optimization can go a long way in organic search, especially locally for contractors. Many SEO’s try to pretend optimization is a secret sect of web design where they have their own membership cards and handshake.
And that’s not far from the truth
But, paying attention to some of the basics can really help move your website up the search engine results page. If you just understand two key elements of the web, you can then design your pages to rank better.
The two key elements to developing a solid contractor website are:
1. Search engines neither like nor dislike your site; their function is to simply serve the most relevant result to the surfer’s query.
2. To do this, search engines continually scour the net trying to find the most helpful, easy-to-understand, information-rich websites that get traffic for the particular search request and are linked to by other relevant websites.
If you go into your site design meetings focused on these two elements, you will come out the other side with pages that are written for readers but will attract search engines too.
And regardless of which search engine you try and optimize your site for, there are a few key factors that will remain constant and are important when laying out your site to attract search engine traffic.
One of the biggest mistakes contractors make is using their website as an online brochure or simple placeholder for your brick and mortar business. Nothing turns your online visitors off faster than a site that does nothing more than list prices, show product, and comes off feeling cold.
So how do you make your site pop?
You don’t need flashing banners with clapping monkeys to create a splash on any contractor website. If you make it feel real, with real content and real conversations then people will be more inclined to hang around.
Other ways to avoid having your site look like a brochure is:
Video – Instead of using typical production photos of your inventory, use video to show how the product is used. You really have the opportunity to make this a great time for staff by using them and their families in the videos.
Product Keywords – Do your keyword research and find the best keywords to describe your contracting company and use them all over your contractor website in order to attract search engine traffic.
Scheduling/Ordering – My Grandmother isn’t going to order from your site. Don’t take it personally, she isn’t going to order from mine either. But she will call my 800 number in a second! So make sure you have one, and if you don’t check out these services to get one.
I realize that the “online brochure” look and feel of a website are better than nothing, but maybe some of the things I talked about are above your technical expertise. You have two choices, learn them or hire someone to do it for you because not doing it means online suicide as your competition gets more acclimated to the web. If doing anything online scares the hell out of you, check out Rentacoder.com. There you can get all the technical help you need to get your website humming along!
The Contractor’s Toolbox
We provide construction websites to contractors for $199/month. We have three campaigns, Apprentice, which is social media management, Journeyman which includes social media and blogging, and Master, which gives you social media, blogging, and a fantastic website. Click here to find out more about The Contractor’s Toolbox.