Qualified Remodeler Magazine

OCT 2014

Qualified Remodeler helps independent remodeling firms to survive, become more professional and more profitable by providing must-have business information, namely best business practices, new product information and timely design ideas.

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M ost technology companies sell- ing to builders are reputable. B u t h o w d o you narrow down your choices since most builders did not start building houses with a degree in information technology. Here are some questions for you to see behind the smoke, so to speak. Knowledge is power and directly tied to money. DO I HAVE TO HAVE A SECURED HTTPS TYPE OF WEBSITE? The answer is, "Of course not," but the real answer is "Yes, you do." The S in HTTPS, versus just HTTP, is a secured server essen- tially. On the surface, you may think since you don't process credit cards on your site and are not sending highly confi- dential information, you don't need the extra step. Google has recently changed formulas and ranks sites with HTTPS slightly higher. Everyone needs help get- ting higher search engine rank- ings. TIP: If your site handles any payment processing, make sure you test all the way through as a real transaction. WILL YOU BUILD US A .MOBI SITE FOR MOBILE DEVICES? They can, but will they? They shouldn't. Websites only built for mobile (.MOBI) devices are dead. Any Web development company can say yes, but they shouldn't. If they do, that's not good. You need a site built with "responsive design," which shows correctly on a tablet or a regular browser and all as a single HTML file. Websites are giant money pits if you don't use a company who knows your industry, the psychographics of your target demographics and what resonates with them, not to mention the latest technology. TIP: Test your site on someone else's smartphone and/or tablet and preferably with someone who has never gone to your old website. DO I HAVE TO PAY EXTRA FOR YOU TO DESIGN A WEB- SITE WITH SEO IN MIND? Most Web development com- panies also offer other servic- es, like builders offer options. One is SEO (Search Engine Optimization), which helps your site get found. That is good. You can get found with- out it, but usually very deep in rankings. That is not good. Your SEO results are partially based on coding and design, but algo- rithms constantly change. Some companies lump the SEO work in with the website. They should be building your site with SEO in mind, regardless of whether you are going to pay them to do ongoing SEO work or not. There is an art to getting found online, but that is an ongoing investment, not one-time; roll it into your website action plan so don't fall for that. TIP: Images that contain words are not seen as text; but simply as images, no different than an image of a tree. IS WORDPRESS THE BEST WAY TO BUILD A WEBSITE? If you get an automatic yes as an answer, you need to look for another choice in Web devel- opment companies. They may be trying to sell you what they think you want or what they know is cheaper. But that com- pany, answer or solution is not your best option. Look for a company that knows technol- ogy, your industry and answers with integrity, not just based on what they can sell. WordPress was initially developed for blog - ging, and it is still great for that. It is an inexpensive tool for any average consumer to be able to create their own website, about anything. The "about anything" part is the issue of concern. Using home building as an example, essentially, any- one can take a floor plan and build a house. However, that house won't be the best built home and may not even func - tion well. That's the same with a website. Builders need websites built on a custom solution spe- cifically for home builders, espe- cially since it impacts how your site is found online — which is, after all, the objective. So ignore the hype, although it may be the inexpensive choice. It may leave you more vulnerable to server errors and unsatisfied in the end. Larger companies, where brand and image are critical, do not generally use WordPress. Yes, it has many plug-ins to do other things, but you, the build- er, will not be able to contact those companies or talk to those people (most assuredly foreign anyway). TIP: As in all things in life, cheaper is not usually better, but you can have whatever you want. QR Secret questions tech companies don't want you to ask about websites Erik Cofield is a consultant, strategist, speaker and content provider to the residential construction industry. He can be reached at buildertech@yahoo.com. 58 October 2014 QR ForResidentialPros.com PROFITS: Technology | By Erik Cofield, CGA, and Amber Merrifield Photo © iStockphoto/Thinkstock

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