The Best of the Web
The Second Annual Glass Industry Website Contest
The nominations have been piling up since this time last year, when USGlass
held its First Annual Best of the Web contest, as more and more glass
industry companies work to create and update their websites. Now more
than ever this marketing tool is critical as a first point of contact
for engaging new customers.
To find the best of the best, our editorial staff, along with readers
of the www.USGNN.comô daily newsletter, nominated their favorite glass
industry sites. These sites were submitted to our talented judges, who
ranked them based on the same six criterion used by the Webby Awards,
the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet:
Structure and navigation; Visual design; Functionality; Interactivity;
and Overall experience.]
Once our winners were selected, USGlass talked to the minds
behind ten of the industryís top sites about their website dos and doníts.
So if youíre looking for direction on where to take your website, then
we have some tips for you. Once youíve taken these tips to heart, and
feel that your site represents the best of the web, itís not too soon
to submit your nomination for next year by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
MEET THE JUDGES
Manny Hondroulis is the marketing manager for EPD,
and columnist for USGlass sister publication Window Film magazine. He
is an expert in web marketing. www.epdwindowfilm.com
Bryan Hovey is the web developer for Key Communications Inc., publisher
of USGlass magazine.
Scott Orth is a co-founder and current treasurer of the Search
Engine Marketing Professionals of Portland (SEMpdx), organizer of the
SearchFest conference. www.sempdx.org
And the Winners of the
2009 Best of Web Contest are Ö
Best Glass Fabricator Site
According to Christine Shaffer, marketing manager at Viracon in Owatonna,
Website Dos: The two most important factors are visual appeal to
draw users in and keep them intrigued and ease of navigation, so users
can easily find what they came to your site for in the first place and
not get frustrated and go elsewhere for the information.
Website Doníts: Introductory animation that is slow to load.
Best Metal Fabricator Site
According to Karen Zipfel, director of marketing for Kawneer North
America in Norcross, Ga.:
Website Dos: One of the most important things to keep in mind when
building a website is visual design. It is what initially attracts visitors
to the site and often helps entice them to stay online. The visual design
should also be consistent with and reflect your companyís brand and personality
Another important feature in creating a successful website is ease of
navigation. It is important that visitors are able to quickly and easily
access the information/content they are seeking, rather than dig through
numerous pages Ö
Website Doníts: Be careful not to rush when selecting the right
vendor/service provider to create/update your site. Careful selection
will help ensure that you can deliver the kind of overall experience you
want to give your audience.
Try not to make the site too wordy Ö Visitors do not want to be bombarded
with information or have to spend a great deal of time reading one item.
Best Site for Glass Machinery
According to Jay K. Molter, vice president of marketing and sales for
Glasstech Inc. in Perrysburg, Ohio:
Website Dos: From our perspective, the site must
have a clean look and enough information to be helpful to the user. Also,
you donít want to have too many things going on that take too long to
Website Doníts: When creating or updating a website, donít overdo
itóand make sure you have someone experienced helping you through the
process. It is easy to get bogged down Ö
Best Site for a Window, Window Wall/Curtainwall Company
According to Angela Rossi, marketing manager for Novum Structures in
Menomonee Falls, Wis.:
Website Dos: I would say the two most important features that
make a website successful would be useful content and a combination of
being user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.
Website Doníts: I would caution others against not testing the
user-friendliness of the site before making it live.
Best Site for a Primary Manufacturer
According to Chris Dolan, director of commercial glass programs, and
Earnest Thompson, director of corporate marketing and brand management,
for Guardian Glass in Auburn Hills, Mich.:
Website Dos: You have to make the site easy for the users to find
what they are looking for. You need to have an idea of what they might
be looking for and then make sure it is as intuitive as possible to find
it. Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to find some information
you know must be on the site somewhere.
Make sure you develop the site for the specific target audience, as we
did for architects in the SunGuard site. This is more challenging for
corporate or broad-based sites with lots of different types of users,
but even then, be sure to have specific ďpersonasĒ in mind for each group;
what they want, how they want to find it and use it and what sort of tools
they may need to do their job.
Website Doníts: Donít use flashy graphics unless they are there
for a purpose. Sites that load slowly with scrolling text are the complete
opposite of what most people want.
Donít fail to make changing the site easy. The online world moves so fast
that itís important to have an open design and an easy content management
system. The site will need to be updated and kept fresh and thatís only
possible if itís convenient and doesnít cost much.
Best Site of an IG/IG Component Supplier
According to Erin Johnson, director of marketing for Edgetech IG in
Cambridge, Ohio, and Patsie Donisie of AKHIA Public Relations and Marketing
Communications in Hudson, Ohio:
Website Dos: Navigation is the key to a good website. Companies
have two to three seconds to capture a userís attention and give them
the confidence that they are going to be able to find the information
they need, otherwise they will move on to another site. The navigation
of our site is user-friendly, enabling access to any information in two
clicks or fewer. The homepage can be navigated by audiences so that users
will be directed to content that is most relevant to them Ö To further
add to the usability of the site, we incorporated a Google Custom Search
bar on every page to easily locate any information on the site.
Websites also are important for building and maintaining the companyís
brand identity. Edgetechís website was designed to be consistent with
sites from its parent company, Lauren International, and other sister
Website Doníts: Many companies enter into websites thinking that
itís something they will do once and not think about for a few years until
itís time for a refresh. Websites are living organisms that must be built
to accommodate growth, changes and content updates, which are all vital
to ensuring users will want to check back often for updates Ö
Best Supplier Site
According to Aimee Davis, global marketing communications manager
for Saflex, a unit of Solutia Inc., in St. Louis, Mo.
Website Dos: A successful website has two key things: updated and
relevant information that speaks to your target audience and dynamic content.
Seventy-five percent of people in North America use the internet (according
to www.internetworldstats.com/stats.htm), and they are used to the constant
barrage of information that they find there. You need to decide what you
want people to do as a result of visiting your website Ö Ensure that your
content is externally focused on the customer, and does not use a lot
of internal jargon. Also remember that people learn through
a variety of styles, so use plenty of dynamic content, such as videos
and interactive presentations, in addition to the more standard charts,
project photos, white papers and technical data you already have to
convey your message. You want to use all of the tools at your disposal
to clearly communicate your message.
Website Doníts: Everyone these days has a great idea or an opinion
about what a company ďshouldĒ be doing on the web, from creating profiles
on Facebook and LinkedIn to posting YouTube videos, etc. While many
of these tools are powerful and can certainly add to your communications
mix, I would caution against thinking that you have to have all of the
latest bells and whistles to make your website relevant. Before adding
RSS feeds, blogs, podcasts, etc., think about the resources you have internally
to maintain and manage the information Ö
Best Site for a Scratch Removal Company
According to Lori Patch, marketing director of GlasWeld in Bend, Ore.:
Website Dos: Content is by far the most important part of any website.
Visitors need to be able to find the information they are looking for
quickly and easily. In addition, the content needs to be optimized to
help searchability and search engine rankings. Content should be coupled
with strong visual appeal that re-emphasizes the company brand. If you
have a professional-level company, your web presence needs to portray
that professionalism and build trust with visitors. It is often the first
impression that customers or potential customers receive of your company
and you want that impression to be pleasant.
Website Doníts: Consider how any updates and changes to your site
will affect current searchability and rankings in major search engines.
Sometimes it takes a long time for the search engines to start ranking
your site in organic listings. When changes are made, those hard-won rankings
can swiftly fall again.
Best Glass Retailer Site
According to Kenneth L. ďChipĒ Merritt, Jr., president of Merritt Glass
Co. Inc. in Pensacola, Fla.:
Website Dos: I wanted the website to be from a consumer standpoint,
as if they knew nothing about my business. I wanted the customer to be
able to have an easy way to navigate. I wanted to make it simple, very
user-friendly, not too many points or clicks that take them in directions
that they didnít intend to go. If somebody wants a shower door I want
them to go to shower doors when they hit that link without having to through
the commercial, residential and automotive [sections]. I want them to
get to where they want to go to quickly.
Website Doníts: When writing up what we wanted to have on the
website, what I was doing was telling a great story about how great Merritt
Glass wasówhich would put everyone to sleep. I realized I was telling
more of a story than trying to balance it [with letting] my consumer look
through my website and move around. I donít want it all to be ďOh arenít
we great,Ē I want them to look around and find a product.
Best Glass Distributor Site
According to John Dwyer, president of Syracuse Glass in Syracuse,
Website Dos: Our IT fellow maintains our website so what makes
it successful, I think, is that itís very current. Weíre able to very
quickly add content or change content because we do it in-house. We do
a much better job of keeping it current because we have an in-house resource
rather than having to rely on [someone else] Ö Not too long ago we totally
changed the look of it, refreshed it and reorganized it; youíve got to
make a point to do that.
We have a lot of technical information on our siteówe try to really add
a lot of one page or one topic-type resources and it takes a long time
to develop those.
Best Fire-Rated Glass Site
According to Jeff Razwick, vice president of business development of
Technical Glass Products in Snoqualmie, Wash.:
Website Dos: A successful website needs to be both content-rich
and well-organized; it is the front door of customer service. Product
information, specs and industry standards need to be concise, clear and
able to quickly demonstrate product benefits to capture and retain user
Site information should also be easy-to-access and navigate. Let users
know what products can do for them at-a-glance and make sure the website
presents a clear path to purchasing the product Ö
Website Doníts: The main goal of a website redesign should be
to narrow in on who you are as a brand and focus more on your target marketóbut
it can be easy to lose sight of these goals among the new technology and
design trends. Make sure you are balancing brand goals with technology,
and continually evaluating site performance.
Also, in this age of digital communications, donít forget to make sure
your site is search engine optimized. Identify key terms or phrases you
want to be associated withóand that a user would identify the product
withóand then clearly incorporate those in the website.
© Copyright 2009 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.