I was recently asked by a group of shop owners for a list of useful features they should include in their new Web sites. After watching their eyes glaze over at the talk of database- and shop control-migration techniques and customer-specific page generation, I steered them to a computer and looked at some examples of what others are doing with their sites. Then, some lights came on.
Seems a Web site is worth a couple million bytes.
So, for those of you in shops who are wrestling with where to start with your sites, here are some examples of what other shops are doing that might give you some inspiration.
www.polcraft.com—I wrote about Polcraft of San Jose, California, in this column in the April '98 issue. Its Web site is awfully thorough from a services point of view. Most important, the company has kept it updated and fresh. As you may recall, its initial startup and maintenance costs have been minimal.
www.stdmachine.com—Standard Machine Company of Albuquerque has built a Web site that is a bit slight on design but delivers the goods in detailed, relevant content. The company stresses its strengths (precision prototype machining, short and medium run production, CAD/CAM, milling and turning, and so on), shows exactly how it will do them and what it will do them with.
www.batesvilleproducts.com—Batesville Products of Lawrenceburg, Indiana, is a shop that specializes in permanent mold castings, CNC machining and finishing. Its Web site offers a more professional design and a more generalized level of data. Especially noteworthy is the way it has presented its shop's product line (instrument, camera and laser mounts). This is a fine example of how a site can complement its line, whether it is of primary or secondary focus.
www.gtqualitymfg.com—GT Quality Manufacturing of Laguna Hills, California, presents the facts of its milling, turning and CAD/CAM shop simply and without too much fanfare. It also presents quality control procedures in a "step-by-step" format that can be awfully useful to a potential customer.
Now, these sites won't turn the Web design world on its ear. And we aren't advocating these shops by including them in this list. What is important is that you look at, absorb, and maybe apply some of what others are doing to start your own site.