What Is It?
A Website is a collection of documents, information and utilities that are hosted on a server that allows access to anyone with a connection to the Internet. The primary elements of a well-constructed site include navigation, your business contact details, and information that accurately and completely differentiates your business from your competition – capabilities, equipment, expertise, qualifications, history, facility details, and any news or events that elevate your stature as a dependable supply chain partner. Until fairly recently, the creation and development of Websites required specialized and often expensive technical expertise. However, many ‘open source’ platforms are emerging as technically sophisticated, affordable options for small job shops & contract manufacturers to launch and maintain effective Websites with less time, investment or reliance on experts. These platforms include Drupal, Joomla and several other emerging products in this rapidly growing market. These options can save you money in development costs when professionals are needed. For small manufacturers with a primitive, outdated or no Web presence, utilizing a Blog for a primary Web site may offer your best option. Blogs offer many advantages and great flexibility to small shops with limited resources. Wordpress is often referred to exclusively as a blog platform, but it has recently evolved into a sophisticated option for basing an entire site upon. The benefits to small manufacturers in following this path include flexibility in adding content without the aid of a programmer or expert, built-in Search Engine Optimization features, and low costs to launch & maintain. For little effort or budget, a small shop can get an extremely professional & effective Web presence in a matter of days.
Why Is It Important?
Your Website is the center of your business’ marketing universe. It’s where your prospects and customers are getting to know you to assess your value as a supplier and business partner. The preferences of your prospects, engineers, sourcing professionals and purchasing reps at businesses looking for your services have forever been changed by the Web as a sourcing tool. The amount of time to assess potential suppliers, compare and research their capabilities, and create short lists of candidates now takes hours or days instead of weeks or months. Also, your potential customers can now conduct this research without you knowing that they’ve researched you at all. In the past, buyers and prospects had to contact you to get the information they’d need before continuing their research of sources. Today, that equation has completely reversed – they now collect the information they need, and then make contact. This simple but crucial shift makes what you say, how your Website is found, and the context of the information presented especially important in the extended sourcing and research efforts to support technical industrial and manufacturing projects.
Key Elements & Considerations:
Most contract and custom manufacturers' Websites focus on company history, equipment lists and facilities information. Buyers can find anyone with a Mazak or Okuma – what they’re looking for are examples of what you’ve done with that equipment for others – it is your greatest online asset. Include examples of the work you’ve done for others. The more, the better
Don’t just include pictures of parts you’ve made – complement photos with related information – specs, materials, cycle times, project highlights, qualifications required. Not only will these characteristics elevate your stature with prospects, but you will naturally add the keywords and phrases they search for when seeking suppliers or solutions
Get a good URL (uniform resource locator, or Web site address) for your business’ Web site. Too often, small businesses overlook the SEO value of a URL with the company name, and the overall value of a prospect remembering it for future use. An excellent site to search for and buy a URL for your site is www.godaddy.com
Include your company’s contact information – email, phone, fax, and mailing address – on every page of your site
Include an easy-to-use Request For Quote with an option to upload prints, with a prominent link to it on every page of your site
Your customers and prospects go to the Web to work, not to read. Long narratives do not play well online, especially for technology sourcing professionals with problems to solve. Be brief
Include full navigation to all sections and items of your Website on every page. Often, the most visitors into an industrial Website enter via subpages from search engines because they will contain more specific descriptive information. Make it easy for them to learn more about your company’s strengths
Don’t get fancy with the design. Manufacturing professionals don’t like fancy. Use a white background with black or dark print, in an easy-to-read font. And yes, they will often print your Website pages to share with colleagues or include in reports. Keep it simple – professional is important, but simple is better
Avoid splash screens – the greetings screens that require another ‘click’ to enter your Website. They are speed bumps to the value of your company
Do not use clip art or stock photography of people not affiliated with your company. It looks fake and implies deception
What your Website SAYS is much more important than how it LOOKS. A professional look is important, but what a prospect learns about your business is paramount.