I have been working with Texas Custom Patios for a long time now (my family’s business), starting with their original website. This is the third version being used, and has done a lot to improve the design and experience for visitors. I’ve had lots of freedom to try things out with this client as long as it works on browsers showing up in analytics, and I’ve taken advantage.
The previous version of the site suffered from several problems. First, the homepage only had one picture and a small amount of information. This didn’t show off the variety or quality of projects that the company builds. Second, the portfolio pages consisted of photo galleries loaded from Flickr and a block of text describing the category. This made it difficult to explain which photos a potential customer liked and didn’t create much content or put specific projects into context. Next, the contact form had over a dozen fields and checkboxes to fill out. Finally, the SEO company they work with previously said the blog should be at a wordpress.com domain for some SEO reason, and then more recently changed their mind and wanted it hosted on the site instead.
The updated homepage added more pictures as links to the portfolio categories and a large banner image linking to a featured project page. The photo galleries from the old site were dropped in favor of doing these project pages. These pages allow for a featured image, secondary images, detailed descriptions, and meta data like the date completed, the neighborhood and city, and elemental tags about project aspects like “arches,” “stucco,” and “television.” It also allows for a project to fall into multiple categories, unlike before.
To shorten the contact form and set it up to route emails to the new DFW office as well, the Google Maps API is being utilized. When the address and city are input, it looks up the location to determine if it should send the email to the DFW office or the Houston office. It also generates further needed information about the location that the offices collect.
The addition of the blog included building a blog template similar to the existing one and transferring content from the wordpress.com site. Comments were also disabled and removed as they were not productive or useful on the old blog.
This version of the site is more stable, and will be a work in progress for a while. There is still a list of things to add and modify as part of a second phase.