What are you looking for in a Website

Discussion in 'Digital Marketing' started by Hansen's Lawn Care, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. Hansen's Lawn Care

    Hansen's Lawn Care LawnSite Member
    Messages: 93

    I was pretty much clueless when I first decided to have my website built. I didn't know exactly what services , keywords, etc. to write on my site...anyways.

    A good guy from this forum helped me out and built my site and does my maintenance still...

    But, I'm wondering what everyone else looks for in a website? More specifically, what do you look for in a website builder?

    Thanks for info.
  2. tonygreek

    tonygreek LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,915

    I think three or four of you have now well established that "a good guy from this forum" put together your web site. I have no doubt he's a good guy.

    Now that you have a site, isn't it a little late to ask that question or is this a purely altruistic learning exercise for the lawnsite membership at large? I'm trying to figure out how much effort to put into this as my posts tend to be a bit more detailed and take a fair amount of time. Thanks.
  3. greg8872

    greg8872 LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 300

    What do you mean in terms of a website builder? The software that makes the site (CMS), or a person/company that builds it out for you?

    I myself take interest in what people say in regards to both of these as I have my own web development company, and as well writing my own custom CMS for clients (note to mods, I am NOT fishing for clients here, I target other industries for business) and I always love to see input on these on how to make my services and product (CMS) better and easier for the "non-geek" to use.

    I have worked with Drupal a little, Joomla a little, Word Press quite a bit, and have worked at a web development firm that had two versions of their custom CMS while I was there. What made our team's clients happy: making the workflow simple and keeping the sites as optimized as possible. I like to build it out so that the client could pretty much "guess" at how to do it and come out right. Company owners love it when the website is an extension of what they do, not something they have to learn and "work it" each time they are in it. (believe me, one other thing I did was take people's existing sites and modify and/or fix them, and wow the stories I could tell you for how complex some CMS's were just to do basic things!! Need a road map to even get in and change a few words on some!)

    One of my peeves about WP, Drupal and Joomla is that unless you white label it to remove a bunch of the admin features/settings, clients will either shy away from actually using it because so many admin features are there, or you get the ones who see all those settings and start playing with everything till it breaks something.

    (There are some technical aspects behind the scenes with WP especially that irk the crap out of me as a programmer, as plugins are far from efficient, but again that is coming from someone who knows how they are programmed and how they are (mis)handling the data. But that is their model to make it "universal" for plugins to be written for it. Hint, this is why a caching plugin is so crucial!)

    One tip for anyone running WP, make sure that at least once a month, if not once a week, go into the admin and apply any updates you have. I have personally seen a version that is less than 6 months old, get hacked badly, and I'm not talking about changing the site content, I'm talking using the site to mass spam and host illegal files. WP is good in that it's code is available and open for people to help improve, but that also means that people can also find the holes, and most installs giveaway what version is installed (if you have WP, go to http://www.yourdomain.com/readme.html current version at time of this post is 3.4.1 )

    Back to things I like to see in a site builder, as in a tool you use to make/edit your own site, one of the big things I see as a problem are ones that do not properly handle uploaded images. Many will be wasteful and "display" a full size image at a smaller size, very bad practice. Usually, when I am evaluating a CMS platform, the way they handle images/files you upload is one of the first things to turn me off from them

    Also a builder should be able to make decent URL's to your pages, they should pretty much make sense when you see them.... http://www.yourdomain.com/page.php?id=32433 vs http://www.yourdomain.com/landscaping-services (as far as extension, none/php/html, don't worry about that as much)

    Make sure you have some type of analytics reporting going on too, these are worth the time to learn them. The most obvious is Google analytics (free), another common one that is on a lot of hosting platforms, AW Stats, which provides more basic reporting. These come straight from your server logs. (Google Analytics requires the user to have Javascript to call it, AW Stats, as long as it is called from the server it is logged). I may when I get time next month write a guide on what I like to look at in AW Stats.

    I didn't mention SEO issues so much here, as well, that gets mentioned in about review request here, but it is good to have this in a site from the get go.

    Lastly, make sure no matter how your site is done, you test it in different browsers (at least make sure you see IE and Chrome and Firefox, those three will cover most differences in CSS and Javascript engines). Try them on phones and tablets (head to local cell store and play on those browsing your site on different ones) see what it looks like on a Mac vs PC (their are sites for this, or check your local library, I just found the one here has iMacs available for the public to use) Speaking of IE, all the versions being used now handle some aspects differently based on the site. Try to see it in IE 9 and IE 8, and well sadly, enough people use IE 7 too should make sure at least nothing majorly breaks in it.


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