First impressions have always been an important part of business and now that we live in a digital age that also goes for websites as well.
Research carried out by a university last year revealed that it takes users less than two-tenths of a second to form a first impression when viewing a website, but it takes a little longer — closer to three seconds — for the user to land on the area of a website that most influences their first impression.
Either way, in less time than it takes you to read this sentence, a person is likely to have formed a favourable or unfavourable view of an organisation based on what their eyes have just seen.
Quite understandably, website development hasn’t traditionally been a priority for catering equipment distributors, as most will point out that lead generation and sales development is driven by other means, such as tenders, word of mouth and repeat business. That said, many dealers are appreciative of the fact that a good website can speak volumes about a business and the service that a prospective customer might expect.
Here, we highlight 10 distributor websites that have caught our eye for a variety of different reasons. How do they stack up against yours?
(NB: We have only evaluated distributors’ company/corporate websites. The list does not include ecommerce websites or online shops.)
Given that a sizeable chunk of ABDA’s turnover comes from interior design and fit-outs — that, after all, is where the business sprang from — it’s hardly surprising that its website ticks all the right boxes on the aesthetics front. In particular, the high quality photography that provides the backdrop to each page gives an element of depth rarely seen on other distributor sites.
Commercial kitchen design is one of three strands to the business, but ABDA does a great job of illustrating each one on the website without making the site too busy or confusing for those surfing it. This uncomplicated approach achieves the goal of succinctly articulating its services rather than leaving users overloaded with info.
WE ESPECIALLY LIKE: The live Twitter feed in the bottom right-hand corner. The fading in of the latest tweets creates immediacy and ensures the website doesn’t just look static.
– Airedale Group
Airedale’s easy-to-navigate website does the size and stature of the Bradford-based distributor justice, making it simple for visitors to get hold of the details they want. Scrolling images at the top of the homepage bring life to the site and are a clever way of highlighting key customer testimonials.
Sector case studies are clearly identifiable on the right-hand side of the site, while the areas that Airedale specialises in — from project management to fabrication — are made immediately obvious. The menu bar even contains a link to a ‘finance’ page detailing the lease options available to prospective customers.
WE ESPECIALLY LIKE: The prominent buttons encouraging customers to get in touch. Users can ‘Get a Quote’, request a ‘Free Design Consultation’ or ‘Send an Enquiry’ at the click of a mouse.
– Carford Group
Dorset-based Carford Group introduced a new company logo as part of a brand revamp at the end of last year and that project also involved breathing new life into its website. The new logo is designed to illustrate the various areas that Carford plays in — from kitchen design to light equipment and fabrication — and the website does an equally grand job of conveying those specialisms.
The site has a good blend of case studies, departmental information and company job vacancies, mixed with links to its online store and warehouse clearance offers.
WE ESPECIALLY LIKE: The Carford Group video. Users that don’t fancy browsing the website in search of information about Carford can learn all they need to know by clicking on the company video.
– C&C Catering Equipment
Visitors to the Cheshire-based distributor’s website get an instant idea of what they can learn about the company courtesy of a menu-driven landing page that clearly categorises what content it has to offer. Furthermore, each category is supported by some sharp photography which all adds to the professional feel of the site.
As well as a regular flow of company news and project details, the addition of a ‘C&C blog’ that opens up in a separate browser is a nice touch and well laid out. Kudos to C&C as well for daring to use a website domain that isn’t just based on the company name.
WE ESPECIALLY LIKE: C&C’s ‘Meet the Team’ page. This feature contains quirky pictures of all the staff who work for C&C, as well as their direct contact details, and succeeds perfectly in capturing the personality behind the team.
– JD Catering
If you haven’t been on JD Catering’s website yet then you have been missing out on a visual treat. The company’s homepage features an animation of a commercial kitchen, complete with a boiling saucepan, smoking Panini grill and authentic sound effects.
It certainly helps the Northern Irish distributor stand out from the crowd and won’t fail to capture the attention of anybody that stumbles onto its site. Fortunately JD Catering hasn’t spent all its time focusing on the animation at the expense of good content. Company background, corporate activities and even a virtual showroom are all easily accessible.
WE ESPECIALLY LIKE: The kitchen animation. Could we have said anything else? For originality it wins hands down and that alone merits its place on this list.
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– Prestige Catering Equipment
Like any good corporate internet portal, Prestige’s website tells an instant story of the services it offers and makes it easy for visitors to obtain the sort of information they could usually expect to want about the company.
Core activities, track record, testimonials and contact details are immediately visible in the top right-hand corner of the website, while quick links, accreditations and brand partners give the site a nice balance further down the homepage. The Northamptonshire-based dealer’s choice of imagery also makes a powerful impact.
WE ESPECIALLY LIKE: The ‘what we do’ menu. Companies often fall into the trap of being unnecessarily superlative when attempting to describe their areas of expertise, but Prestige provides a clear and comprehensive overview of the five or six core categories it excels in.
– Red Squared
With expertise in both the catering and laundry sectors, Red Squared has ensured that visitors to its website can find exactly what they are looking for with a clean and well-structured design that perfectly encapsulates what the business is all about. The site was only launched a year ago, but the Rugby-based distributor has done all the basics well, including striking the right balance between text and images and ensuring the company’s contact details are visible throughout.
Red Squared even offers an online chat function for existing or potential customers that want to make instant contact with a representative through the internet.
WE ESPECIALLY LIKE: The downloadable flick book brochures. Red Squared’s ‘Company Brochure’ and ‘Key Suppliers’ brochure have been converted into a page-turning digital format, so they can be downloaded and viewed with ease on a computer or mobile phone.
– Space Catering Equipment
Visitors to Space Catering Equipment’s website are greeted by a summary of four key reasons why they should choose the company for their catering supply needs, which gives the homepage an interesting but effective twist.
Sustainability is a massive focus area for the Gloucester-based outfit and that is evident right away, with a green footprint logo within its menu bar helping to direct visitors to that part of its offering. From there, visitors can download its Sustainable Kitchens Guide, which was created in association with the SRA. The site gives a lucid account of Space’s history and accolades, as well as the key manufacturers and brands it works with.
WE ESPECIALLY LIKE: The sustainability page. Given Space’s expertise in this area, it would appear there is plenty of scope for it to add more resources to the content already contained in this area of the site.
– Tailormade Catering Equipment Solutions
Tailormade’s homepage leads with concise summaries of the most recent projects it has completed, and up to now the firm has succeeded in keeping the material original by updating it on a monthly basis. The white text on black wallpaper gives the site a really slick feel and this undoubtedly helps to enhance the imagery and banners that are spread across the site.
Tailormade has also put a lot of effort into providing a comprehensive overview of each product category it has solutions for and this — combined with a guide to eco-friendly kitchens and downloadable datasheets of equipment it sells — ensures the site is full of useful content.
WE ESPECIALLY LIKE: The lay-out and formatting of the website. An overview of Tailormade’s core areas of expertise is immediately visible on the homepage, avoiding any ambiguity and making it crystal clear that the company specialises in design, supply and installation.
– Whitco Catering & Bakery Equipment
With the trials and tribulations of everyday life to contend with, it can become quite easy for a catering equipment distributor to neglect their website in favour of other more pressing issues, but commendably Whitco appears to pride itself on keeping its site fresh and current.
The Northamptonshire-based outfit has posted multiple news items on its site since the turn of the year, helping to paint a picture of its activities in the market and its wider engagement with the industry. Visually, the site has a clean and tidy look to it, which is all the more impressive given it is packed with interesting content about the company and its core expertise.
WE ESPECIALLY LIKE: The attention to detail. Whether it’s the carefully-crafted ‘Partner’ section detailing all the brands that the company works with, or the PDF archive of completed projects and product brochures, Whitco’s website is a hub of valuable info for any new or existing customer wishing to get to know the business a little bit better.
Web envy ‘sweeping Britain’s businesses’
Despite the critical position a company website has in an organisation’s sales and brand armoury, more than a third (37%)of people actually think their closest competitor’s company website is better than their own, giving rise to a new breed of ‘website envy’ among British businesses.
One in five people (19%) polled by Decibel Technology last year don’t actually think their own company website represents their brand. Yet nearly half (46%) of people say they would consider not even doing business with a company that had an out of date or hard to navigate website and a third (38%) of people would be put off working for a company with a poor web presence, signalling significant revenue and talent loss implications for UK businesses.
Interestingly, companies who profess to wanting to make changes to their web infrastructure often find themselves thwarted by bureacracy. 54% of people claim the process for signing off budgets for website development takes up to one year, while 18% say it takes between one and two years.
“Web envy is good if it inspires businesses to maximise the performance of their own website but the consequences of not acting on this are rather more sobering, ” said Ben Harris, managing director of Decibel Technology. “What these findings really dramatise is that UK business could potentially be losing hundreds of millions of pounds by deflecting their trade — and even talent — to the competition.”
51% of people agree that a company’s website influences their opinion of an organisation.
46% of websites have been overhauled in the past two to three years.
37% of companies overhaul or rebuild their company websites as part of a rebranding exercise.
32% of companies overhaul or rebuild their company websites due to significant growth in the organisation.