Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Dizzie
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby Dizzie » 10 Apr 2013, 8:52pm


ukdodger
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby ukdodger » 10 Apr 2013, 11:06pm

horizon wrote:In my search for a new bike I've relied heavily on websites. This isn't necessarily a great idea but given that I am in the market for a niche product and live in Cornwall it's pretty inevitable. What has struck me however is that small builders seem to pay little attention to their websites. They themselves probably don't like that side of things (and who blames them) and rely on a local clientele that they can talk to and discuss things properly. However Thorn manage to sell their bikes all over the world and I don't see why the likes of Vernon Barker cannot use the web to sell much more widely. What I am looking for is a website that is technically very simple but loaded with information (the opposite of the big boys). It is probably much more information than they think you need. Even Paul Hewitt's was difficult to follow, slick though it is. I really don't like flashy websites with their anodyne and meaningless prose ("you can go round the world on this bike") written by copywriters: I am sure that Vernon Barker and others have a great deal of interesting things to say about themselves, if only they would. I wondered what other people thought about cycle websites (I don't mean the vast e-commerce websites like Wiggle but the "brochure" style websites of small builders and suppliers).


That's a problem not unique to framebuilders. It's infuriating wanting to know more of a product and having no way of finding out more. But I read somewhere that companies have discovered that less information leads to more sales. Dont ask me why.

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horizon
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby horizon » 11 Apr 2013, 12:38am

mrjemm wrote:I use Paul Hewitt's shop/services, but the website is nothing like the shop, and tells you very little.

I do believe SJS (Thorn) shop is nothing more than a couple of desks though.



Given that we were told that the era of the local bike shop was over, I used to have this romantic idea that skilled bicycle entrepreneurs would turn their attention to the web and find niche markets in all four corners of the world. Their websites would become their (virtual) shop windows and express thereupon all the character, usefulness and idiosyncracy of their physical forerunners. How wrong I was! I think what impressed me about Thorn is that they seemed to assume little knowledge on the part of the customer (we don't know everything), assumed that you would make your purchase based on the website and talked you through the whole process from beginning to end. Some websites are indeed slick (but meaningless), many seemed to have adopted the basket and checkout business (but don't let you feel sure about your purchase) and others really intend you not to buy at all over the interent and assume you just need their telephone number to make an appointment to pop in (Dave Yates, as much as I would like one of his bikes, is about 400 miles from Cornwall).

PS The suggestions in this thread have given me food for thought though! :D
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tatanab
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby tatanab » 11 Apr 2013, 7:22am

At half the distance from you is Argos in Bristol http://www.argoscycles.com/ They build and adapt all sorts of things, including building for Ian Hibell all those years ago.

Like many custom builders there is comparatively little on the website other than information about tubing which you could find in many places, but this is precisely because they are custom builders and build what the customer wants tempered with the frame builder's experience.

For a British builder in a truly niche market who really has penetrated all corners of the world you should look at http://www.trykit.com/ No good to you because this is probably a niche too far. But the point is that his website has lots of pictures of machines, frames and bits - even the frame building process, but there is nothing about tubing qualities, braze ons, colours etc because frames are all custom built.

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danfoto
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby danfoto » 11 Apr 2013, 7:42am

531colin wrote:The simple answer is that people who set themselves up in the bike trade are bike geeks first, philanthropists second, and computer geeks not at all.


All of which is of course perfectly fine - providing that they don't expect to make a decent living from what they do.

deliquium wrote:"Why small cycle builders have such poor websites?"

Why do they need them?


Because not everybody in the market for a "niche market" bike is part of the club scene or reads the cycling comics or whatever and listens to WOM. For whatever reason, some of us prefer to do our research on the internets. I certainly can't be doing with any firm which doesn't have a halfway-decent website - or for that matter with one whose site is all presentation and no substance.

horizon wrote:Given that we were told that the era of the local bike shop was over, I used to have this romantic idea that skilled bicycle entrepreneurs would turn their attention to the web and find niche markets in all four corners of the world. Their websites would become their (virtual) shop windows and express thereupon all the character, usefulness and idiosyncracy of their physical forerunners. How wrong I was!


Me too.

horizon wrote: I think what impressed me about Thorn is that they seemed to assume little knowledge on the part of the customer (we don't know everything), assumed that you would make your purchase based on the website and talked you through the whole process from beginning to end. Some websites are indeed slick (but meaningless), many seemed to have adopted the basket and checkout business (but don't let you feel sure about your purchase) and others really intend you not to buy at all over the interent and assume you just need their telephone number to make an appointment to pop in .


Couldn't have put that better myself. It's exactly why we spent over £3000 on a couple of Thorns two years ago.

PS I speak as an ex-self employed businessman who would have had to pack up in 2005 if I had not managed to master the very basic skills of creating an effective website on the cheap, and that within 12 months of sitting down at a computer for the first time ever.
A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.

mrjemm
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby mrjemm » 11 Apr 2013, 12:07pm

Dizzie wrote:Or my brother in law http://www.taylormadebikes.co.uk/index.html


Nice bikes he's made there. Do you know if there's a reason he doesn't mention anywhere on the site where his workshop is, despite several mentions of going there to be fitted?

I have seen on the Ceeway builder list- http://www.ceeway.com/custom_uk_bicycle ... ilders.htm that it's in Banham, Norfolk though, so maybe far for Horizon. But you could make it a jaunt with a visit to the zoo!

pete75
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby pete75 » 11 Apr 2013, 2:25pm

Some have no website whatsoever.
Try a search for Kevin WInter - one of the best UK frame builders. From what I've heard he's never short of work.

Then there's Dave Marsh and his mates who have this http://www.universalcyclecentre.co.uk/repairs.html . Read what they've done and it's obvious they can build whatever you want in steel or even titanium.

mrjemm
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby mrjemm » 11 Apr 2013, 3:04pm

pete75 wrote:Then there's Dave Marsh and his mates who have this http://www.universalcyclecentre.co.uk/repairs.html . Read what they've done and it's obvious they can build whatever you want in steel or even titanium.


Who was asking about gold bottles the other day? That last site has one-

Image

Seems they're a skilled bunch, and lots of interesting bits'n bobs there. Only show speedy bikes though they do refer to 'all types' of bikes.

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Audax67
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby Audax67 » 11 Apr 2013, 4:53pm

Dizzie wrote:Or my brother in law http://www.taylormadebikes.co.uk/index.html


Now those look great. Site's pretty good, too. I could wish for bigger pictures in the gallery, but then I'd have to clean the drool off my keyboard.
Have we got time for another cuppa?

700c
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby 700c » 11 Apr 2013, 5:30pm

Same for LBS. We have 4 in this town none of which have a e-commerce website. 2 of them have some rubbish home-made type efforts that are illegal and the other two have a holding page (bought a domain, then done nothing).

In the next town over, is a LBS that has a great ecomm website - this website sells more online than the 4 LBS can even dream of.
None of the LBS in my town are at all interested in a properly coded ecomm website.

It seems to me that running a LBS is a lifestyle business and not a business for actually expanding and wanting to break new boundaries... I suspect being a framebuilder is similar. So long as the artisan is able to pay his bills by making a frame now and then, why bother with a website?

Mark1978
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby Mark1978 » 11 Apr 2013, 6:02pm

Why would their websites be illegal?

AndyK
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby AndyK » 11 Apr 2013, 6:30pm

Mark1978 wrote:Why would their websites be illegal?


I don't know which websites he's talking about but three common ways company websites fall foul of the law are:

  • The requirement under the Companies Act 2006 for any company to display "the company name, number, place of registration, and its registered office address." (I think later legislation added some more to that list, but I can't remember what.)
  • The requirement under the EU Services Directive to make it clear to a visitor if you are using cookies or similar tracking techniques to collect information about their visit, and if so what for. (Online shopping baskets are largely exempt from this though.)
  • The requirement under the Disability Discrimination Act to make "reasonable" adjustments to your services for people with disabilities. It's quite easy to build a site that can be used comfortably by blind people, partially-sighted people, people with motor control problems and so on. Sadly most websites still aren't.
Actual prosecutions under any of these are, as far as I know, rare to non-existent.

AndyK
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby AndyK » 11 Apr 2013, 6:34pm

By the way, I've just seen an advert for the Bespoked Custom Bicycle Show in Bristol this weekend - dozens of independent bike builders exhibiting, including the likes of Hewitt, Condor, Roberts... if Horizon can make it that far from Cornwall it might be worth his while.

700c
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby 700c » 11 Apr 2013, 6:50pm

Exactly as AndyK points out; for a trading website there are a number of laws in place. Prosecutions are rare as rocking-horse-poop, but that does not make infringements any less worrisome.

I find it quite sad that a good business (eg, LBS, framebuilder, whatever) cannot see the upside of running an extra outlet for sales (or just info).

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meic
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Re: Why small cycle builders have such poor websites

Postby meic » 11 Apr 2013, 7:00pm

What if they are a sole trader and not a registered company?

Then their websites may be legal after all?
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