As the decision-maker for your dealership, you know how to evaluate purchase decisions at every layer of business. You can value a tractor without missing a beat. You understand the ROI of a new sales manager. But you only purchase a website solution every five years or so, and in that time, digital best practices change.
To help heavy equipment dealers make great website decisions, we’ve designed this 36-point checklist to help you think more like a digital marketing expert.
Understanding your goals before you begin a new website project largely determines your success, so start with the basics. If the website provider you are talking to doesn’t nail these, look for an alternative.
1. How does your solution work on mobile?
You want a responsive design with mobile breakpoints. This is the only way to have a site look good and be easy to navigate on a phone. Avoid a mobile site solution (every update will have to be made twice) or no solution for mobile.
2. Describe how your solution is specific for equipment.
Equipment sites are complex. They live in the gray area between informational and e-commerce sites. The provider should talk about searching for inventory, sorting and filtering, and category-level landing pages if the solution was built for equipment. Avoid solutions like WordPress or Squarespace that are informational by design. Your equipment will always feel tacked on and hard to browse.
3. Can I make edits?
Whether you are technical or not, you need a site that you can make edits to. Find out what the CMS (content management system) looks like and what changes you can control. At the bare minimum, you want to be able to edit copy, add photos and videos, add or modify locations, and launch landing pages without having to pay for help or wait in a ticketing queue.
4. What platform do you build your websites on?
There are lots of possible answers here, and don’t be surprised if it is a platform that was built in-house (remember, equipment websites are unique and there’s no major platform that handles inventory well). If it’s a proprietary solution, ask for a tour of the CMS and for 3-4 URLs of sites built on the platform. Check out those sites and play around with their inventory. Again, avoid sites built on platforms designed exclusively for content (see #2 for additional details).
5. What are my options for customization?
Templated solutions allow for speed and efficiency. That’s great, but all businesses have unique needs. Make sure you’ll have options to customize to meet those business needs. On the other end, maybe you have a clear vision of your very unique business needs. Communicate those expectations and see what is possible (and what pricing looks like for a fully custom site).
6. How does your system integrate with other technology?
Part of building a new website is planning for today as well as for the future, so you want a solution that integrates with your current and future business systems. Look for a partner who has experience with third-party integrations.
When discussing integrations, a provider should clearly understand the complexities. Dismissive words like “simple” and “easy” are red flags. They should ask about APIs, iframes, or feed structures at the very least to give you confidence they know what they are talking about.
7. Who will be my point of contact during the build?
There are lots of right answers here. The wrong answers to look out for:
The salesperson: Websites require detailed work. You want someone focused on capturing those details and moving the project to a successful conclusion—not someone who is looking for the next project.
The developer: To keep the project organized and moving forward to deliver a final product that works for your business, you want clear, consistent communication. If the developer needs to code and they are responding to you in a timely manner, they’re not coding.
A ticketing system team: Again, websites are a lot of detail work. You want a centralized brain managing the project—and it would be better if that brain isn’t yours.
8. What does support look like after launch?
Important: Websites are like any machine—they break and require maintenance. Plus, your business is dynamic and you will want to make updates as your company grows.
Do you pay an ongoing monthly fee? What does the fee include? Or do you pay per hour? Or do they not support edits post-site build at all? A website ties you to a provider for an extended period, make sure you are clear about their pre-, during-, and post-build services.
Want the answers to all 36 questions?
Download our free eBook to get all the information you need when considering a new website.
In the eBook, we cover:
- Web design questions to ensure your website is designed to support your equipment business.
- Equipment specific questions, so users can find and navigate your showroom with ease.
- Search engine optimization questions, so new customers can find your website before they find your competitor's.
- Conversion-related questions, so your website is optimized to generate leads.
- Process questions, so you understand the timeline and resources required.
- Pricing questions, so you understand the pre- and post-launch financial commitment to a new website.
Having built equipment websites for almost a decade, we’re passionate about the right way to engineer websites for sales success and never get tired engaging on the topic. Interested in discussing a new website solution for your equipment dealership? Contact us today.