Everything Builders & Development Companies Should Know about Web Design and Internet Marketing
In 10 years a LOT has changed in our business. Smart phones are now the #1 way visitors get to our and our clients’ websites. Smart phones didn’t exist when we started… from tables to HTML 5 & CSS… a lot has changed. But when it comes to the excuses we hear from clients (particularly those in the building industry) about why a website WON’T work for them… a lot remains the same.
Who says a builder or construction company website design can’t be engaging and effective? When crafted with the user experience in mind, coupled with proper planning, a builder website can not only be effective at driving business and home owners to take action – it can downright be the MOST effective tool in your business’ marketing arsenal. Developing a new website is, in some ways, similar to constructing a custom home or office building. The project needs to be planned out, identifies and takes into account all the stakeholders, defines what will make the project a success and most importantly define and set expectations.
Different Buildings (and Websites) for Different Purposes
As you know a commercial space or office building is not constructed in the same way as a house – there are different rules, codes, and people involved. Similarly, a website for a construction company should not look like a website for a magazine or a mom and pop store. To this post, I will share with you some of the elements that are unique to the construction industry and what to keep in mind to avoid getting a cookie-cutter website.
Let’s get started.
Why Your Construction Company Needs a Website
1) Inexpensive Global Reach
A website makes it easy to reach a broader audience in the least expensive way possible.
As one of the top-ranked companies in the world for “construction web design” every day I’m surprised by the websites we manage for clients that receive thousands of visitors. Imagining having to coordinate a room for 1000 people – Every. Single. Day. This isn’t just possible with a website, it’s the norm.
Today, more than 3 billion people worldwide have access to the internet! That is a larger reach than any other advertising medium [like print ads] can provide, and this increased business visibility comes at a very tiny fraction of the price of traditional advertising.
Nowadays, your target clients are using the Internet to search for everything – food, clothes, map directions, restaurants, airlines and even Construction companies – like yours. To be clear YOUR AUDIENCE IS ONLINE.
The #1 excuse we hear, particularly being in sleepy southwest Florida is that “my audience isn’t online…” this is a common MIS-conception. In fact, the older the population, the faster the growth in Internet use, the more disposable income, etc. See our article on Internet Use Among Seniors for more detail.
Even if you don’t yet have a website, because of recent changes to the web, chances are that your business can already be found on multiple websites that list local business information and reviews. Having a professional website representing your company provides you with a public face that you control, and it allows your business to be found by the right people.
In the past, having an internet presence was not a requirement, but was a great way to make your business stand out. Today, having even a basic website is a necessity – it puts you on some equal ground with your competitors. Having a GREAT website can help you lead the pack, and is every bit as essential as the quality of the service your team provides.
A professional website not only gets your name “out there,” it is also a platform for you to show a portfolio of your work and past customer recommendations, and a website allows your client base to more easily connect with your team.
Bottom line, if you want to be seen as a credible, professional business, you must have a website. If you want to maximize the exposure of your business and impress potential customers… you must have a great website.
3) Enhanced Customer Service
One of the best ways to become a top-rated company is to provide excellent service and communication to your clients. It is expected that current (and prospective) customers will have questions about your process, and a website is a great way to make information readily available.
A website is available for prospects and clients to browse 24/7, even when your doors are closed. An FAQ page dedicated to resolving frequently asked questions about your business can do more customer service for your business than a full time customer help desk!
A website can also streamline communication between your clients and your team. Comments, chat, and email, in addition to your phone number and other contact information, are all avenues that you can provide directly on your website so that your customers are connected with the right people – quickly.
Web Development and Design for Builders: All You Need to Know
These days, it is easy to put up a basic website in ten minutes or less… but putting up a professional website takes effort, attention to detail, skill, and creativity.
Here is a breakdown of what you need to know about web development before you start interviewing web developers:
How Much Should a Website Cost?
The cost of any website will vary based on a many factors. From our 10+ years of experience we came up with a very detailed article dedicated to analyzing the cost of several websites. A summary of that article is given below. To get the full article visit this link: What should a website cost
- Basic website: A very simple website costs $50/Month (if you do it yourself) or $2000 – $5000 (if you hire a developer).
- Advanced website: An advanced website costs $7500 – $30,000. We arrived at these values after considering various factors and issues we have encountered while developing websites for actual clients in the past.
- Custom Website: A custom website costs $15,000 – $100,000+. This is most likely overkill unless you plan to take a significant bulk of your business operations online.
Technical Skills for the job
Regardless of whether you choose to develop your website yourself or if you hire a developer, there are specific skills needed to get the job done properly and to keep the website up and running long-term.
- Design Tools: There are several design tools, but Photoshop is the industry standard. Make sure your developer or agency has a good grasp of photo editing tool. You inspect their portfolio page to have an idea of what you can expect.
- PHP / ASP.net / Ruby: These are used for the back-end development of the website – what happens in the background. There are several other technologies but these are the most commonly used on the web.
- SQL: This is a requirement for working with your website’s database (if you’ll be needing one).
Depending on your unique business requirements, many of these skills will be required to create a quality website for your business.
A Primer on SEO & Internet Marketing
It is not enough to simply have a website. To maximize the business potential of your website, you need to consider optimizing it for search engines like Google and Bing, so that YOUR business is at the top of the list when a potential client searches for “construction companies” in your area.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) consists of utilizing various techniques and strategies to make websites more visible via search engines for specific search terms. SEO exists because search engines typically rank websites using various factors for specific search terms. You want your website to show up on the results page whenever someone types something related to construction, and you want it rank high on that list. Think about it – when you search the internet for something, do you ever bother going past the first page of listings?
So many factors are considered by search engines while ranking your website including the quality of your website’s code and the authority of your website’s content (there’s over 198 factors to be considered).
SEO is a game of its own. So when developing your website (or hiring someone to do it for you) you need to make sure that most or all of these factors are considered in the development process.
A Primer on the Mobile Web
More and more internet users are accessing the web from their mobile devices – today, everyone has as smart phone or tablet. This means that your website needs to be just as accessible from a mobile device as it is from a regular desktop computer. In the past this was a challenge – websites were formatted for a computer screen, not the small screen on your phone.
One solution to this was to make more than one website for a company – The mobile website for mobile users and the regular website for desktop users. However, this technique is quite redundant because it requires the creation of multiple websites (and all these websites are meant to serve the same purpose, after all!).
A better solution is to use a technique called Responsive Design. This allows your website to automatically adjust itself to fit the screen size of whatever device is being used to access it. While developing your website, you need to keep in mind that the website must be mobile responsive.
Website Must-Haves for the Construction Industry
The expectations for websites in the construction industry are unique. Some of the must-have elements of a builder’s website are outlined below:
- Project Gallery: Having a project gallery on your website is a visually appealing way to show off your work to the world and to potential clients. The pictures in your gallery should be beautiful (preferably, they should be done by a professional photographer).
- A Services Tab: This is extremely important for your business. You need to let potential clients know the sort of services you can provide to them.
- A Big Bold Header: A big, picture-driven header on your home page is a great way to leave a good first impression with your visitors. A big header adds visual appeal to your website.
- Multiple Contact Points: Your website needs to provide your potential clients with various ways to contact your business – A phone number and a contact email on the home page, a contact form on the contact page and several social media icons linking to social media accounts for your business etc.
- Client Testimonials: Let potential clients know how satisfied your previous clients have been with your services by putting up testimonials on your website.
Marketing your Website:
After completing your new website, no one will know about it yet. New buildings are promoted via publications and word of mouth. Unlike a building, promoting a website requires more tact and skill because there are millions of other websites competing for viewership.
Websites are typically promoted digitally (online or digital marketing). Digital marketing costs much less than traditional marketing and, if executed properly, will bring you more clients.
There are several strategies you can implement to market your website. A strong digital marketing strategy should have a combination of SEO, PPC (pay per click ads), and content marketing involved.
We have a detailed article on our website dedicated to marketing construction companies on the web. You can refer to that article here: Construction Marketing.
A Primer on Website Maintenance
After the initial creation of your website, you still need to think about how you will keep the content on the website up-to-date. Internet savvy users can smell an outdated website from a mile away. If your website content is not regularly updated it will lose its value with time.
Keep these seven points in mind when deciding how to develop and maintain your business’ website. For inspiration, you can check this website we developed for one of our clients in the construction industry: Compass Construction Inc. We also have tons of articles dedicated to providing you with the information and support you need to develop an amazing website for your business and you can check out some of them here:
- Website 101 Introduction to the Web
- Why Website Cost Estimates are always off
- Construction Marketing Ideas for Southwest Florida builders
- What is PPC Marketing
- Top 10 Signs Your Marketing Agency Doesn’t Know Digital
Now if developing your own website is not your cup of tea, we would love to talk to you about your project.