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How to Build a Web Development Team for the Timber Industry
Building or improving websites is about more than building a good-looking site.
By: Nora McDougall-Collins, National Network of Forest Practitioners - Director of Web Services
A web developer should consider the big picture, including how the website fits into the business. For example, your developer should take into account how much time you, or your staff members, have to update a website. If you are already working with a local webmaster, maybe what you really need is some training on upgraded skills for your webmaster. Or maybe you have a circumstance like many new NNFP Website HELP clients whose original web developer locked up their domain name in their accounts so the website owners can’t move their websites to new web hosts.
Because many of our clients with existing sites start out with no control over their own sites, the NNFP Website HELP Team does more than technical work — we work to build a site that fits into your wood products or services business.
I first realized that working in the timber and wood products industries was going to be different from my previous work in the newspaper industry, when I found out that “log bunks” had nothing to do with the small diameter timber bunk beds my boys slept in! To meet the unique needs of this market, NNFP has put together a web development team that specializes in working with folks in timber and wood products businesses.
Colin Donohue and Scott Bagley from NNFP introduced themselves to me when I spoke about web marketing at the Small Wood Conference in Madison, Wisc., some years back. The NNFP Website HELP Team grew from their initial invitation for me to join them for dinner. We now have a team of six developers in Missoula, Mont., who specialize in friendly, down-to-earth services to help businesses and organizations in the wood chain (from foresters to horse loggers to furniture designers) to market their services online.
“Well, I don’t know much about computers,” is how our Website HELP Team conversations often start with a new client. It’s almost an apology. A fair answer to this comment is that we are totally in the dark about running your log forwarder or planer. Our next step is to learn about your business and experience on the web.
Your website will be very different depending on whether you are a horse logger or have a logging crew that uses the latest equipment to decide what lengths to cut the stems before they get to the mill. Or your operation may be working with high value hardwoods that will be cut into slabs for fine furniture. Every operation is different.
Another area we will want to discuss is how much of the website maintenance you would like to assign to your current staff. Maybe you need a site that would be easy for your office manager to update. Or maybe you are a “tinkerer” who would like to do your own updates.
Why would a logging operation need a website? In today’s economy, many people find themselves doing their searching for a short list of products and services online after business hours. Yep, I bet you do that too! You want a website that gives the searchers accurate and compelling information about your business. Maybe your market wants to see that you leave an area nicely parked out with equipment that is light on the ground. Maybe your market wants to know what your history is for being on time and on budget. One thing about your website is, unlike a brochure, it never gets dumped into the round file!
Your web development team should be people first and geeks second. They should care that the website fits your business style and your business flow. At the NNFP Website HELP Team, we speak “human” instead of “geek.” When you tell us about that new processing head you bought, we will suggest you put a photo of it and the guy running it on your website. We know that the smarts of the guy running that processing head are more important than the equipment. The best part of our technical job is that we get to meet really interesting people in the process. We hope that the websites we build are as interesting as the business owners with whom we work!
Nora McDougall-Collins and the HELP team offer full-service websites and are happy to train you or your staff. They are also extremely flexible; working when you have down time during mud season or coming in while you’re out in the woods.
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