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  Net Worth

Posted 4/14/2004
By Colby Horton

Shop Site of the Month

Alex's Auto Haus Inc. - Murray, Utah
www.alexsautohaus.com

shop site

This site offers a unique and fun navigation scheme on its home page. An "Ask Alex" section allows visitors to ask questions regarding automotive repair or inquire about estimating and pricing. A comprehensive "What Alex Does" section is divided into several informative sections that make the site dynamic in nature. An employment classified section completes this useful Web site.


Web Wise

Redesigning Your Shop's Web Site - Part 2

Last month's Net Worth column dealt with the first two steps in redesigning your shop's Web site. This month, we continue looking at the overall process of changing the look and content of your site.

So you've decided to redesign your site. You've determined your new site's overall purpose; now what? It's time to decide whether you want to construct your new site yourself or pay a professional to do the job.

Bottom line - decide if you have the time to construct a new site. For all of you shop owners who constructed your first site from the ground up, remember what kind of time it took when you initially implemented your site. Now with all the bells and whistles you can add, not to mention the expectations of a professional-looking site, you can expect to double the amount of time for this time around.

Designing a Web site for today's industry, if done correctly, requires different skills that most people do not have, unless they construct Web sites for a living. This is not to say you can't build your own site. But evaluate the following qualities and decide whether you have the skills to build a good site for your customers.

Good design software such as Microsoft Front Page or Dreamweaver is a good start. But to fine-tune your design, a basic understanding of Hypertext Markup Language (HTML) is a necessity.

Nothing exemplifies a poorly designed site more than fuzzy graphics and photos, and a weak color scheme. Unless you've had graphic design training, this is a feature that can't be corrected using Web design software.

Do you want your site to have a "Contact Us" form, an appointment scheduler, or a vehicle status mechanism? If so, are you familiar with database and CGI programming? Even something that seems easy to implement can be difficult without proper training.

JavaScript enhances a site dramatically. JavaScript improves navigation and helps with the overall look of the site. Luckily, many of the Web design software companies have included creating JavaScripts as part of their package. But you must understand the key components of JavaScript to use it correctly.

I'm not necessarily advocating outsourcing your Web design, but oftentimes it proves to be a good investment. On many occasions, you can hire a Web site design firm to design the templates for your site, including graphics, navigation elements and scripting. Then, you can build the rest of the site using their elements.

Next month, we'll take a look at navigation menus and dividing your site into logical, easy-to-follow sections.

Net Numbers

Forty-nine percent of mechanical shops and 54 percent of collision shops maintain a Web site.

Source: AutoInc.'s "How's Your Business?" survey, December 2003

ASA Web Ways

ASA Launches New Legislative Web Site

The Automotive Service Association has continually advocated grassroots efforts on both a local and federal level. But as more and more legislation is being introduced on the state level that directly impacts the automotive service industry, it has become more difficult to meet the needs of members in individual states. To that end, ASA has launched a new government affairs Web site, www.TakingTheHill.com.

Hot Sites

Play Ball!
Ball Parks of Baseball: www.ballparksofbaseball.com
Baseball Almanac: www.baseball-almanac.com
Baseball Links: www.baseball-links.com
Baseball Portal: www.baseballportal.net
Major League Baseball: www.mlb.com
Minor League Baseball: www.minorleaguebaseball.com

Colby Horton Net Worth is written by Colby Horton, ASA's electronic communications manager. He can be reached at (800) 272-7467, ext. 234, or by e-mail at colbyh@asashop.org.


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