Webvanta Blog: Creating Effective Websites

Modernizing MacBeath Hardwood's Web and Email

Modernizing MacBeath Hardwood

When we first connected with Jon MacBeath at MacBeath Hardwood, he was facing a series of technology challenges he wasn’t sure how to address. His email service had become unreliable, he wasn’t getting acceptable support from the provider, and the company’s website was in dire need of an overhaul.

We don’t host email ourselves, having concluded that using a large-scale provider such as Google or Rackspace provides the most reliable and full-featured service. But we’re here to be the technology partner for our clients, so we were glad to tackle MacBeath’s email problems by setting them up on Google Apps.

Jon commented, ‘Webvanta called us and we expressed our troubles, and within three working days, they had us on a new server and had created 50 new email accounts. We were back online in no time.’

Tackling the Website Overhaul

With the email problems resolved, attention turned to the website. The site had been built by a former employee, and it was badly in need of a redesign. The online store had been built using Yahoo Stores, and it fell short in a number of ways. The beautiful wood products weren’t presented attractively, it couldn’t handle featured specials that the company wanted to promote, and there were challenges dealing with a special tax on lumber products.

Furthermore, the employee who had built the site was no longer with the company. Making changes was difficult for the current employees, and the site was out-of-date in a variety of ways. We were eager to tackle the website, since we knew we could deliver a dramatic improvement. MacBeath considered multiple bids, and struggled with how to choose the right vendor. Webvanta’s proposal was not the least expensive, but we were chosen because of our responsiveness.

Jon noted, ‘Because of the emergency service we were provided on the email project, we decided to go ahead with Webvanta for our website overhaul. I have to say, I could not be more pleased. We are a 60-year-old lumber company, and we needed a little hand holding throughout the process; from the brainstorming stage, to the visualization and development of the site concepts, and finally to implementation. Webvanta’s service has been unmatched, and they were fantastic at verbalizing and walking us through the whole process.’

Tim Blakey created the visually rich design that met all of MacBeath’s goals. In terms of information architecture, the site needed some out-of-the-ordinary features to support the combination of goals: driving visitors into the stores, as well as offering products for sale online. The new site includes both in-store specials and featured items available for mail order, and each product page lists the stores in which the item is stocked.

We built the site using a responsive design, so it performs beautifully on phones and tablets, as well as on desktops. It presents information about all six locations, as well as for company-wide initiatives such as elephant conservation.

The site includes e-commerce for online ordering, for which we used Foxycart. The checkout experience is customized to feel like an integral part of the site, and to deal with special tax and shipping issues unique to the lumber business.

Webvanta took care of migrating all of the product information from the old store to the new one, giving MacBeath a turn-key solution. We trained the staff to maintain the site, and they’ve been handling it on their own since the site was launched.

The Right Partner Makes All the Difference

It can be difficult for many business owners to tackle web and email problems. Most small-to-midsize companies don’t have an IT department, and contract IT providers (and even in-house departments) often aren’t very effective as website providers. The business managers are consumed with running the core business. Internet technology is not their expertise, and it’s sufficiently complex and obscure to be daunting for a non-specialist to tackle.

Finding a partner who understands your business and can guide you to the right technology solutions can make all the difference. Business owners need not just a designer or coder, but someone who can understand their business needs, craft appropriate solutions, and guide them through the process. Webvanta has the business and technology expertise to do just that.

Could your company use assistance making the most of Internet technology? Let us know how we can help.

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