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Design Trade


Technology web site basics


increase functionality to increase business By Kelly Sweeney


the design industry today, whether a showroom, manufac- turer or designer, have Web sites. A crucial component of any business, a Web site creates public awareness for your business and provides valuable information for potential customers. What may be surprising is that the majority of interior design related Web sites still lack basic function- ality and easy navigation. A survey of home furnishings manufacturers’ Web sites by Design Trade revealed that more than 60 percent scored below average when com- pared to our functionality and navigation criteria. The information you should include on your Web site


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will vary depending on your company type, but there is certain information all sites should have. Contact infor- mation is a must, regardless of the company type. Ideally, company Web sites should include the company’s address, phone number and an e-mail address, so prospective busi- ness contacts can choose the contact method that best suits them. The contact forms many Web sites offer allow peo-


t should come as no surprise that most companies in


ple to submit questions or certain requests, but they are limited in the types of request and the length of the request or question. Minimally, your Web site should contain a phone number and e-mail address. An important piece of information for manufacturers


to include is where to find your product. A current list of showrooms is a must for all manufacturers, preferably with each showroom’s contact information and hyperlinks to their Web site. The premise is the same for showrooms. Designers need to know which manufacturers they will find when they visit your showroom. Again, it’s preferable to hyperlink back to the manufacturers’ Web sites where possible. The goal is to give designers the information they need to access your product or patronize your showroom. This means your list of representative showrooms or repre- sented manufacturers should always be up to date. Design Trade’s research indicates that more than 75 per-


cent of designers regularly visit interior design sites and more than 60 percent go to a company’s Web site first to get information on a product they saw in a print advertise- ment or magazine. With this many designers using the In- ternet to acquire product information, maintaining a full online product catalog is recommended for a manufacturer. In addition to the photos, descriptions, measurements, fin- ish options and other details should be included so design- ers can determine if a specific piece will meet their needs. A full online catalog also allows designers to learn about new pieces that may not be in local showrooms yet. Along with these essential items, there are a number of


The McGuire site (www.mcguirefurniture.com) functions more with less as it combines simple navigation featuring two product category links and a third catch all link on the header against a timely home page slide show backdrop. The Where to Buy link provides a list of their showroom representatives.


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other things you should consider adding to your Web site. Social media is growing daily and should be part of your business model. Adding links to your blog, Facebook page, Twitter page and any other social media outlets you engage in lets designers know where else they can find and interact with you on the Internet. To learn more about social media, see our previous technology column at www.designtrade. net/socialmedia. An About Us section with your company history and other pertinent details about your company helps designers get more familiar with your company. If

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