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Custom Woodworking Website

CodyCCodyC subscriber Posts: 1
edited January 2009 in Website Critique
Hello All,
This forum is just what I have been looking for.  I have recently published a website and am ready for some expert advice.  Here is a little background about me and my business...
I have been active with woodworking as a hobby for about 4 years and have decided to start a business to provide my services as a custom woodworker starting this year.  The business name is Rugged Cross Woodworks and the URL is http://www.ruggedcrossww.com.  I would like to be able to sell my product locally as well as through online sales.  That being the case, I plan on producing high-quality items that will be heirloom quality.  I would like to market my smaller items (jewelry boxes, small furniture, etc.) more towards the online consumer while also providing larger custom pieces locally.
Feel free to critique any aspect of the website you`d like (design, layout, logo, etc.), but please keep a few things in mind.  First, I plan on converting all pages to flash, which is the reason why the pages currently load as images.  I know it is not technically sound, but it will make the conversion easier for me which I plan to do very soon.  Also, my experience level with web design or graphic design in general was minimal before this project.  I designed every piece of the site myself and am open to changes.  I have experience developing computer applications, but design is not my strong suit.
Ok, enough of the disclaimers.  Let me know what you think. 
Cody Crisp


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    WeblineWebline subscriber Posts: 13 Bronze Level Member
    For a first effort, the overall look isn`t too bad, although it does feel a bit "busy", and more imagery of your work would help.
    Just wondering. What do you feel is the benefit of using all flash, other than looking "flashy"?
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    CodyCCodyC subscriber Posts: 1
    The "busy" comment is the same thing my wife said when she first saw it.  I`ll brainstorm on a way to compress a few things.  As far as converting to flash, I mainly want to do the "Gallery" page and the "Buy" page in flash because I have some simple animations that I would like to add...nothing cheesy, but just something to catch the eye a little better. 
    The "Contact" page is already in flash with PHP driving the email functions.  I also agree about adding more images of my work.  I have been working on getting my pieces to look more "professionally" photographed and I just put some temporary pictures up for now while the gallery page is "under construction".  Good feedback, keep it coming.
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    WeblineWebline subscriber Posts: 13 Bronze Level Member
    Just my opinion .... use flash just where you need it ... not entire pages, just the needed areas. Even at that, you can implement AJAX image galleries that are really nice if wanted.
    Get rid of all-image pages. Use html/css and a lot of text; images alone get you nowhere in search results ( and yours have no alt tag information, which is beneficial ). You need relevant, textual content for any chance at high search results, with solid, basic SEO added.
    Refine your meta tag titles and descriptions, and don`t worry so much about meta keywords.
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    vwebworldvwebworld subscriber Posts: 40
    Your home page is one big image file.... nothing a search engine can "read". ... en&strip=1

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    JmesJmes subscriber Posts: 4
    I agree that having whole pages in pictures is a bit `busy` plus keep in mind that on slower computers and connections they might cause trouble, which might lose you some customers
    Also, your pages lack a heading. e.g. the `buy` page is titled as `buy`. you should title it as `business, page` e.g. `RuggedCross, Buy Page`
    You should also work on your meta tags, to be more crawler-friendly
    Another thing I would add, is your home address and your phone number in the contact form. You`re selling custom products so that means you`re kinda like selling yourself..
    In the buy page, I`d give your products a name, to be more easily referable. You do not present a catalogue with 50,000 products. so your items should be unique. not as "product#"
    Additionaly, in your homepage I`d raise the `showcase` part to the top of the page. You want people to understand right away what you`re doing here, and you won`t get them with text
    Lastly, I`d add a site map, for search engine crawlers (especially if you`re planning on later having a page for each of your products) and a FAQ or a Terms and Privacy sort of statement
    All in all, Your site looks good, and quite user friendly. keep up the good work
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    CodyCCodyC subscriber Posts: 1
    Thanks guys, I agree with pretty much all of your comments.  After taking a step back and looking at the big picture, I already have quite a "to do" list.  I am already in the process of making changes and I`ll probably come back again asking for another critique after I release "Version 2". 
    As far as the reason for wanting to do flash development, it was also because I am more familiar with it than most other web design techniques.  I have been in application development for a few years, but just starting web development.  It may be a couple of weeks before I get a new version of the site ready, so feel free to keep browsing and giving more suggestions.  Thanks.
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    PilothouseFilmsPilothouseFilms subscriber Posts: 2
    I see a couple of comments about how Cody has "religious stuff" on his website. I have to ask, how many customers would choose not to buy products from this guy because of his religion? Seems a bit bigoted if you ask me.
    Part of this man`s faith is honoring God with his work. If he wants to carry that over to his website, what is the problem? We wouldn`t suggest that a Muslim skip some of his daily prayers so that he can stay at the front counter of his business. Would you choose not to buy furniture from a Jew if you noticed an Old Testament scripture on the wall of his shop?
    If a customer is offended by that, I`d say the problem lies with the customer. If Cody really wants to maximize his dollars, I guess he could hide his faith and try to earn money off the bigots as well. Cody, I`d say keep the "religious stuff" on there.
    Just my two cents...I hope don`t offend anybody.
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    CodyCCodyC subscriber Posts: 1
    Thanks for the honest opinions.  I actually debated with myself for quite a while on whether to mix my religious views in with business.  I came to the conclusion that I should try and do it in a way that does not thrust my beliefs in anyone`s face, but just give information about myself and what I believe. 
    I do not want to alienate or try and seem "holier than thou" by doing so, but it is an important part of my life and I would like share my views with others in a non-forceful way.  If anyone has a suggestion on how I can accomplish that through the design of my website, then I`ll be glad to consider changes.  I have already started making a few changes based on the feedback I`ve received here. 
    As far as the "under construction" page goes...yeah, they annoy me to.  Sorry about that but it`s more of a reminder for me to do some work on that page than anything else.  I haven`t officially tried to start marketing my website publicly yet, just trying to get some good feedback.
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    CodyCCodyC subscriber Posts: 1
    I am sure there are about as many opinions on mixing religion with business as there are people on this forum.  For those that disagree with overlap between the two, I have a quick question.  Do you think that having "Rugged Cross" in the business name is what gives the preconceived notion of forcing religion on others?  If the business was called "ABC Woodworks" and I had a Bible verse posted on the home page and a description of my religious beliefs in the "About Me" page, then do you think people would still perceive it as forceful?  Just an honest question, not trying to prove any kind of point.
    Anyway, we`ve gone on a bit of a tangent, so back to the original topic.  I have "de-cluttered" my home page a little bit and converted it to flash.  I may change it later since flash is so resource intensive, but it was easiest for me for now and a better option than what I had before.  I am in the process of making improvements to the other pages now.  For those that saw the original, let me know if this version is easier to look at.  Thanks.
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    CodyCCodyC subscriber Posts: 1
    Thanks Craig, that definitely makes sense.  Also, I meant to ask in my last post if someone could test it out that with a different connection type than I`m using so you already took care of that for me.  I`ve tried it out on a few computers but all of them have a cable connection and it loaded in about 2 seconds, so that`s good information to have.  I`ve worked up quite a to-do list, so I better get to work...
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