Flash sites, broken online stores, broken links all over the place, slow loading images, massive page errors and just a boatload of horrible design. Why? These problems filled almost 75% of the sites I looked at. There were some good ones as well which I will discuss but overall the industry is riddled with some crap websites. I will let you in on a little secret; I love the custom motorcycle building industry. Whether it is a raked out chopper or a cafe racer there is something about the industry that I really like. I am an artist at heart and there is something about welding metal to create something beautiful I really enjoy. The other day I took a few moments out of my day to explore the top custom motorcycle builders in the U.S and I found that many had very horrendous websites and a good portion of them were 100% flash! Now we all know just how poorly a flash website can operate in the search space which leads me to ask, why is this hot & trendy industry using such mid to late 90’s website techniques? It doesn’t matter if you are on a TV show or not motorcycle marketing on the web is very important if you own a custom shop. It is a competitive space and you have to do everything you can to stand out.
In my opinion this industry should be very visual leading to clean robust websites with heavy social media efforts in place.
Paul Teutul Jr. from Paul Jr. Designs probably has the best site and approach in the industry but he still has some website issues. I would even take it over his rival, Orange County Choppers website due to it’s slick layout. The SEO of the site can be a little better, the URL structures are a bit sloppy, content can be a little stronger and I didn’t even see a blog but the approach visually is great and the branding is strong. The SEO elements can be cleaned up but if the brand isn’t there it simply isn’t there. Paul great start but get someone to clean up the technical aspects.
Orange County Choppers is up there with a quality online approach as well. Sure the obvious reason is most likely because they have been on TV for almost a decade and their online trust is impeccable but their site layout is clean, URL structures are optimized and overall the user experience is great. A big downfall is that I do not see a blog anywhere on the site and important pages like the wheels page for example has virtually no content. Orange County Choppers if you are listening fire up a company blog and get someone to start snapping photos while you are building bikes and start putting blog posts together. Call me we can talk about it.
Big Bear Choppers are a staple in the custom bike building community and their website is right up there with one of the better ones I have come across. Great user experience, clean layout, nice URL structures and a decent amount of content. But once again no blog! I guess bike builders do not want to maintain a blog. Sure it takes time and dedication but so does owning a custom bike building shop.
Now I don’t want to tick anybody off but some of these guys I am going to discuss are pioneers in their space yet their online web marketing approach is quite poor. I don’t expect all these guys to have a robust online marketing approach for the custom motorcycle building shops but some of these sites look like they where built in the mid 90’s.
Billy Lane is one of the coolest guy’s in the industry but one thing that is not so cool is his online approach to build his brand. First thing you have to do when you arrive to his site is install flash players? If you even make it past that point you have a choice of three different website versions. Billy, get someone to just make one clean version without this horrendous splash page entering your site. If you do even have the energy to make it past this point you will find endless amounts of broken links and online stores that don’t even work. Billy if you read this please don’t hit me.
Bourget’s Bike Works is one of the worst websites I have seen in the custom bike space. A splash page that goes on and on with random buttons and photos is just horrible on the eye. Come on you guys are the leaders in your space. You have been around since 1992 you should be the benchmark from an online standpoint. Once you do enter through the splash page the site is even built in flash =(. I don’t even know where to start.