Do these websites look "amateurish" to you?

14 replies
  • WEB DESIGN
  • |
OK Warriors, I need your advice (and mods, I am NOT trying to pimp my services in this thread)...

I've started a new web design site – which is a bit of a departure for me. I've based the idea around a few things I read in the War Room. The site is called Local Trader Websites and it's aimed a local tradespeople and small businesses – plumbers, electricians, independently run small shops etc. It's brand new, and so far I've only sold one site – a redesign for a local TV aerial installers. They were very happy with it, and thought it was good value for money, so it's a start.

I researched the market, looked at what competitors were charging, and also looked at the type of sites people in my target market (who already have a site) like. From what I can see, they tend to prefer something fairly conservative, and I've put together some example sites accordingly. The graphics and copy were outsourced to fiverr, and I put the WP themes together using Lubith. So far so good.

To reach my target market quickly, I've been trying to put together some JVs with people who publish local free magazines. These are advertisement supported, and the main advertisers are the sort of businesses my service is aimed at. I notice a lot of advertisements have a phone number or e-mail address (often the sort of address supplied by a broadband company) but no URL.

I've contacted about a dozen of these magazines locally and in neighbouring districts. Several have asked me to contact them again later in the month as they're busy putting together their Christmas editions and things are a bit hectic at the moment, a few have told me they already have similar arrangements with other web designers, the remainder have said flat out they're not interested or simply haven't bothered to answer my e-mails or return my calls.

I did, however, have a very interesting (although not particularly pleasant) conversation with one magazine publisher yesterday. She was quite scathing. She said that my site and the example sites looked very “amateurish” and that she wouldn't have the nerve to offer such rubbish to her clients – words to that effect, anyway.

Here is the URL of the main site
Here is the URL with the example sites:

Do they look amateurish to you?

This woman went on to say most local businesses just want a free, template driven site and singled out Free Website Builder - Moonfruit - Total website design control (not an affiliate link) as a good example. Apparently, they have an arrangement with Barclays Bank and if you open one of their all-singing-all-dancing business bank accounts you can get “free” website. She said that as I'd have to be competing with this sort of thing, and that my designs weren't any good, I was on a hiding to nothing.

It has never been my intention to go after that sort of market. I know that freebie seekers aren't going to buy anything no matter how cheap it is. I also know that anything bundled with a bank account isn't free, and you end up paying for it many times over.

However, this conversation has got me wondering, and as I'm too close to this project to be objective, I'd like some feedback from fellow Warriors:


  1. Am I on a hiding to nothing here? Are the sites amateurish, and not up to the job? If so I'll just stick to making videos
  2. I state on the website that all the sites are bespoke and designed to meet each businesses individual requirements as opposed to the sort of template driven service offered by Moonfruit (and 1and1 etc.). Am I not making that clear enough?
  3. Or is she just being a b**** and trying to put me off, with perhaps an ulterior motive in mind?

Honest and objective feedback would be much appreciated.

Thanks in advance,

Shaun.

<Update 18th November>

I've taken everything everybody said on board, and changed the site and example sites accordingly. Once again, many thanks.
#“amateurish” #websites
  • Profile picture of the author GB Solutions
    Honestly, they look like web 1.0 websites. The web has come such a long way and the sites I just looked at are not up to par. I am not a web design pro, I just freelance on the side of my day job and do some affiliate marketing on my own websites.

    I mainly use WordPress and Magento (for e-commerce) as CMSs. I also deal with local, small businesses and have been using WordPress Themes (Not an affiliate link). I have also used WordPress Themes Loved By Over 200k Customers (Not an affiliate link). Elegant Themes is a plug and play basically, Rocket Themes are slightly more complex, but you can see the major difference between these and your website.

    If you need suggestions just send me a PM, I would be happy to share my knowledge
    Signature
    GB Solutions | Small Business Website & Marketing Solutions

    "To Strive, To Seek, To Find, and Not To Yield" -Tennyson
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8694104].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author mojojuju
    From the perspective of current web design trends, I'd say that those designs might look behind the times. But I don't think having a cutting edge design is necessary to have an effective web site.

    Recently, I was looking for a plumber and I visited all kinds of plumbing web sites. And let me tell you, I wasn't phased by anybody's fancy web design. What I preferred was sites that conveyed the company's information clearly. Things like having a phone number easy to see on the front page, a summary of the company's services, and their hours.

    There was one plumber's site that I had to click two links before I found any contact information. He had a fancy design though. It seems the agency he hired to build his site knew more about showcasing their web design than they knew about selling plumbing services.

    I guess I want things to be simple when I am at an new and unfamiliar local business web site and I want to find the information I need to solve a problem. I don't care about seeing how well their web developer implemented a jQuery image slider. Just give me the information. Over-design and over-ornamentation of web sites can be a distraction. There's a lot of cool bleeding-edge CSS and design tricks, but that doesn't mean they have to be used.

    With the moonfruit sites and Wix and etc... there's a lot of pretty designs, but that's not to say that they're effective designs.

    Yes, your sites could be seen as amateurish - in the sense that they don't look like the most difficult sites to make. But it's not necessary to try to make sites look like they were hard to make.

    I think the graphic text is the most amateurish looking component. It looks like something reminiscent of Microsoft Word Art. Still, it's not going to deter me from hiring Anytown Plumbing & Heating. Like I said, I don't care what my plumber's web site looks like, just as long as it has the information I need. A plumber's job is to do plumbing, and not to impress me with web design.

    P.S. You could position yourself as someone who provides clean and simple web design. It seems like most of the web development agency in my city specialize in over-design and showcasing of their skills, ignoring any other purpose when building sites.

    edit: It's mainly the images that give the amateurish vibe. The header image in this example looks like about 3 minutes of PhotoShop. But I don't think that's going to deter anyone from renting a bike from "Brian's Bike Hire". These are small business web sites. I don't think they need the image of a multi-billion dollar international corporation; I think it's ridiculous when local businesses try to play themselves off like that.
    Signature

    :)

    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8694549].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author TomVa
      [QUOTE=mojojuju;8694549]From the perspective of current web design trends, I'd say that those designs might look behind the times. But I don't think having a cutting edge design is necessary to have an effective web site.

      Recently, I was looking for a plumber and I visited all kinds of plumbing web sites. And let me tell you, I wasn't phased by anybody's fancy web design. What I preferred was sites that conveyed the company's information clearly. Things like having a phone number easy to see on the front page, a summary of the company's services, and their hours.

      There was one plumber's site that I had to click two links before I found any contact information. He had a fancy design though. It seems the agency he hired to build his site knew more about showcasing their web design than they knew about selling plumbing services.

      I guess I want things to be simple when I am at an new and unfamiliar local business web site and I want to find the information I need to solve a problem. I don't care about seeing how well their web developer implemented a jQuery image slider. Just give me the information. Over-design and over-ornamentation of web sites can be a distraction. There's a lot of cool bleeding-edge CSS and design tricks, but that doesn't mean they have to be used.
      .[/QUOTE ]

      ================================================== ====================
      AF***INGMEN that is and will be the best anwser anyone will come up with for this question. Great work. :rolleyes:
      Signature

      Do you need stable WEBHOSTING? https://hpthost.com HEY folks, for a limited time get the first month of service For only $0.01 That's 1 cents. At checkout use coupon code 1cent. This is only for web hosting, and only applies to the monthly services.

      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8694697].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author Delta90
      Originally Posted by mojojuju View Post

      Lots of good text
      You thought the same as me that a simple and clean website was good and he should improve on his graphics. And ofcourse many of the local firms might not want a "showoff" site and just a simple functional one. But if they look to buy one I'd say that OP do need to have a site that at least looks good, it doesn't have to be "showoffy" but as he wants to portray himself as the professional his site needs to reflect that.

      I mean it's like that with everything if I'm going to buy something I might think twice if the store looks a bit unprofessional.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8694793].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author waynemoney
    Im a big fan of wordpress to build sites you need the content management these days.. If I was going to sell design services I would always use Wordpress it makes it easy for the end user to add content and building great templates is very easy with programs like Artisteer

    As far as you site I did find it somewhat amateurish mostly because of the graphics I think you could improve there. Dont get me wrong you are not far off. I like a clean site you just need to use graphics that draw attention to the things you want your customer to pay attention to.

    The other thing to consider offering within your services is local SEO. This is a very easy way to get traffic for your customer and doesn't take a ton of work on your part.

    I think it is a good upsell for any web designer.. You can even sub the work out. Local companies will pay a few hundred dollars for a service like this because it cant help but get them business.

    I think the best advice I can give is if you want to stand out in website design in your local market it will always be about getting your customer business.

    The design helps but there are many upsells that can be very beneficial to your customer and when you benefit your customer you will get a ton of word of mouth business..

    I have built 15 off line businesses for myself and another 7 for others and everyone of them was successful mostly because of my online presence in my local market.

    Hope this helps
    Signature
    You Don't Have to Be Part of the 99% of Internet Marketers That Fail Miserably
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8694685].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Delta90
    To be honest, I'd say that yes they do look amateurish. But I think you could massively improve easily.

    The thing that strikes me immediately is the graphics, you always look at the header when you enter a site and when I enter your Local Trader Websites | Websites for Local Small Businesses the header doesn't look to great honestly. Firstly it's not smooth(my screen is quite big and quite high resolution, so that might be with it's appearing pixely) and it's not the most attractive of fonts(according to me). What I is iether get someone to do the graphics for you, or invest in some good software (ex. Photoshop) and invest some time to be able to create good graphics, they can really make or break a site.

    You don't really need a fancy site something easy and clean with some nice graphics will go a long way. But you immediately notice "beginner" graphics.

    So my point is: A clean and easy site works, but you need to work on your graphics either get someone to do them for you or learn how to create good ones yourself.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8694771].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Matthew Shelton
    Hi Shaun, I have to agree here that the graphics aren't giving the best impression. Here's one example I whipped up for you, taken from your site. The main difference with the 2nd one is that I added a drop-shadow effect to the text, but doesn't it look better?
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8695735].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author mojojuju
      Originally Posted by Matthew Shelton View Post

      The main difference with the 2nd one is that I added a drop-shadow effect to the text, but doesn't it look better?
      I think it looks better and is more readable without the drop shadow.
      Signature

      :)

      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8695836].message }}
      • Profile picture of the author Matthew Shelton
        Originally Posted by mojojuju View Post

        I think it looks better and is more readable without the drop shadow.
        Could be - a lot of graphic effects are, as they say, "in the eye of the beholder."
        Just to be thorough, here's the text from the header area of the site (note that I'm not calling it a 'header', because I don't think it qualifies)
        {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8696144].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author Matthew Shelton
    Really though rather than get into minutiae regarding graphics techniques, it looks like different graphics people worked on different elements of the site - for example the Website Design Service graphic and the Website Makeover graphic have no stylistic relation whatsoever, and the "makeover" one truly does look like it was done in MS Word
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8696379].message }}
    • Profile picture of the author spearce000
      A big THANK YOU to everyone who has taken the trouble to look at my sites and give feedback here. It is very much appreciated


      Originally Posted by mojojuju View Post

      There was one plumber's site that I had to click two links before I found any contact information. He had a fancy design though. It seems the agency he hired to build his site knew more about showcasing their web design than they knew about selling plumbing services.

      I guess I want things to be simple when I am at an new and unfamiliar local business web site and I want to find the information I need to solve a problem. I don't care about seeing how well their web developer implemented a jQuery image slider. Just give me the information. Over-design and over-ornamentation of web sites can be a distraction. There's a lot of cool bleeding-edge CSS and design tricks, but that doesn't mean they have to be used.

      With the moonfruit sites and Wix and etc... there's a lot of pretty designs, but that's not to say that they're effective designs.

      Exactly. I'm sure a cutting-edge design is important if you're running (say) an architects practice, a software consultancy or a design agency. Then the look of the thing is of the utmost importance. However, if you've got a burst pipe and you go to Google and type in "plumber in [whatever the town is]" you don't really give a toss what the plumber's website looks like, just as long as it tells you what you need to know. I don't think anyone is going to choose one plumber or chip shop over another because one has a cooler looking website.

      The typical customer I'm going after for this service is someone who, when you phone up, says something like: "Yes, mate, I've been thinking of doing something like this for a while. My brother-in-law has got Front Page on his computer and was going to do a website for me but he's been too busy, so I might be interested if it's not too expensive."

      Originally Posted by mojojuju View Post

      P.S. You could position yourself as someone who provides clean and simple web design. It seems like most of the web development agency in my city specialize in over-design and showcasing of their skills, ignoring any other purpose when building sites.

      That's sort of what I have in mind for this venture. Perhaps I need to work on getting that point across over the phone to magazine publishers.


      As most of us on the forum know, the copy is what makes a site sell. Perhaps I need to work on getting that point across too.


      Originally Posted by mojojuju View Post

      It's mainly the images that give the amateurish vibe. The header image in this example looks like about 3 minutes of PhotoShop. But I don't think that's going to deter anyone from renting a bike from "Brian's Bike Hire". These are small business web sites. I don't think they need the image of a multi-billion dollar international corporation; I think it's ridiculous when local businesses try to play themselves off like that.

      Originally Posted by Delta90 View Post

      You don't really need a fancy site something easy and clean with some nice graphics will go a long way. But you immediately notice "beginner" graphics.

      So my point is: A clean and easy site works, but you need to work on your graphics either get someone to do them for you or learn how to create good ones yourself.
      Points taken. You get what you pay for on fiverr, I suppose. I've never thought of myself as a "web graphics guy" before, but it you want a job done well... etc. etc.


      One of the other magazines I contacted - who said they couldn't do a JV as they already had a similar arrangement with someone else - said they liked the simplicity of the example sites.


      Originally Posted by Matthew Shelton View Post

      Really though rather than get into minutiae regarding graphics techniques, it looks like different graphics people worked on different elements of the site - for example the Website Design Service graphic and the Website Makeover graphic have no stylistic relation whatsoever, and the "makeover" one truly does look like it was done in MS Word

      I do have to put my hand up and say "guilty as charged your honour" on that one. What was trying to do was get a "before and after" effect. Looks like I need to work on that one. I used Photoshop BTW.


      Originally Posted by waynemoney View Post

      The other thing to consider offering within your services is local SEO. This is a very easy way to get traffic for your customer and doesn't take a ton of work on your part.

      That's on the agenda - along with website hosting, YouTube video commercials and a whole lot of other stuff I have in mind to sell to local businesses. That's one of the reasons (and I can admit it now) I was getting a bit panicked about what that daft bird was saying the other day. She did give me a few thoughts about how to target the truly parsimonious, though.


      Thanks again, everyone. I shall sleep better tonight.


      Shaun
      Signature
      WordPress Security Clampdown – was just for the War Room, now available to all Warriors. Protect your WordPress site from hackers. No opt-in required.
      {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8698437].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author viviandavid
    I think, the graphic text is the most amateurish looking component. Because the structure of site and formatting is not proper, that's why it is not looking good. You have to build a proper cutting-edge design to look attractive.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8703407].message }}
  • Originally Posted by spearce000 View Post

    Here is the URL of the main site: http://www.localtraderwebsites.co.uk
    Here is the URL with the example sites: Site Examples | LocalTraderWebsites.co.uk

    Do they look amateurish to you?
    I dont mean to sound mean or offensive, but YES they look amateur and very outdated, and they're not up to any paid-service standards no matter whether their are just for a local plumber shop.

    Again, I dont mean to sound offensive, but I believe that at the moment you don't have the skills to offer a web design service.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8717435].message }}
  • Profile picture of the author duplication
    Need some help.
    {{ DiscussionBoard.errors[8731489].message }}

Trending Topics