Let’s talk websites. Obviously you’re on one right now — so you know how important it is for a company to have a web presence (otherwise, what are you doing online?). But just like there’s a difference between the bunny-ear box TV you watched the first season of Star Trek on and the flatscreen you yell at when you watch football… there’s a difference between a functioning website and a good website.
It’s especially important for a contractor to have a really great website, because that can lead to a phone call or online request for an estimate that you don’t get from foot traffic. Our field isn’t like a grocery store or boutique, where we’re trying to bring people to our storefront. In many cases, our offices are small and intended for meetings AFTER we’ve met the customer, not as a background for a first meeting! So where do your customers first meet you? In 2017, it’s online.
Using White Castle Roofing as an example, in our research (read: we ask everyone how they heard of us), 27.5% of our business in Omaha in 2017 has come to us from people who came across our page on Google. That’s HUGE — especially when you consider that, in the same market, in the same time period, TV and radio accounted for 3.3% of our contacts, or phone book advertising accounted for a mere .3%. (As a side note, if you aren’t tracking this information in your own customers, start now — this is essential information for any business to know.)
Getting yourself in Google search results is another topic for another day. For now, let’s focus on what customers would find when they get to your page. The big three things to make 100% sure you have down are your ABCs: accessible layout, beneficial content, and consistent style.
A: Accessible Layout
What’s the most common thing you use your cell phone for? Odds are, it isn’t making phone calls. In October 2016, worldwide mobile web browsing overtook desktop for the first time — and that trend has continued. For more than two years, Google has used mobile friendliness as a ranking criteria in its listings, meaning sites that are not optimized for mobile viewing will show up in the listings below those that are.
It’s also a better experience for your customers to have a mobile-friendly page. How annoying is it, when you visit a website on your phone, to have to do a bunch of contortions on the page to be able to read a simple paragraph? To pull and stretch the page to get the text big enough that you miiiiiiight be able to read it with only a small magnifying glass, only to then have to keep moving the page across your screen, back and forth, so you can read a sentence? Here’s a hint: no one wants your services badly enough to do that. Mobile friendliness is a MUST when it comes to your website.
How do you know if your site is accessible on a mobile platform? Well, the simplest way might be to pull it up on your phone. Does it look right? You can also use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test tool to make sure The Powers That Be are reading your site correctly. If it’s not mobile friendly, don’t give up that traffic willingly — fix it NOW.
B: Beneficial Content
Now that you have your website in a format your customers can actually read on a desktop OR mobile platform, let’s look at what it is they’re reading. Again, if this is an introduction to your business, you want your content to be really representative of who you are as a company. This can vary somewhat from field to field, but some basics you’ll want to include are:
Your address and contact information, in a really obvious place — preferably in your template so it’s on each page, and also on a page of its own that people can navigate to easily. You don’t want the website to be their ONLY interaction with you! If it makes sense for your business, you may also want to consider having an online form to request an estimate while they’re on your site — that gives you an opportunity to contact THEM in return.
Photos of your work and employees — so customers can put a name AND a process to your words. Outside of a blog, giant blocks of text aren’t really ideal. Show AND tell your customers who you are! CompanyCam will be rolling out a new feature soon to make adding photos to your website a breeze, so stay tuned for that development.
Awards and testimonials — so your customers can hear what others say about your work. It isn’t bragging in this circumstance! You’ll want to have comments from both past customers (just make sure you have their permission to use their full names; otherwise, a first name and last initial can suffice) and any pros who have honored your work. This could be BBB accreditations, Angie’s List awards, local contests, and any certifications from your field that you hold. Show off! It’s fine.
C: Consistent Style
Ever read a document where someone uses one font for a while, and then halfway through switches to a new font? It’s jarring to the eye, and distracting from the actual content of what you’re reading. By the same token, what would you think if you pulled up the McDonald’s website, and it was full of blues and purples instead of the iconic red and yellow palette they’ve developed? It wouldn’t look right, for the same reason — it’s inconsistent with their brand. You know their colors. You know their fonts.
If you don’t already have a brand style guide, begin developing one. What fonts do you use in your documents, like proposals and contracts? What colors are your logo? What does your truck wrap design look like? It should all be homogeneous — you’re one company, and your branding should look like it. That also extends to your website.
Come up with one or two primary colors, and two or three primary fonts (one for content, one for headings, and possibly one for emphasis). You can bring a pro in here to help you, or play with color schemes and fonts on your own (Coolors.co and Canva’s font design guide are some great resources). When you have those — follow them and DO NOT deviate! Those are your rules that define what your brand says, visually, about who you are. Until Ronald McDonald shows up with blue hair, don’t go off track.
One more hint: Nothing says “I’m stuck in 1993” quicker than using Comic Sans font. It’s not jaunty, it’s not edgy, and no one takes it seriously. Don’t use it.
BONUS D: Developer
The absolute best advice I can give to put this all together: Hire a pro to do it. A web developer will be able to optimize your site to best pull into Google’s listings, ensure mobile friendliness, and make it all look good. Unless you’re a pro at both painting houses and online metadata, don’t take on a task this important by yourself. This is one of the fastest-growing fields out there, and criteria is constantly changing to build and keep a site relevant. You know how important this is…don’t do it alone. It’s worth the investment.
Your website may very well be the most important piece of real estate your business has. Don’t make it an afterthought or a “when I have time” task; instead, constantly be looking for ways to keep your site fresh, full of useful content, and always telling your story. It isn’t hard — just remember the ABCs! — but it’s 100% worth the effort.