I met Gerald Van Woudenberg ten years ago when we built our house. Gerald owns Van Arbour Design, a custom millwork business. He builds cabinetry, custom furniture and built-ins. We loved working with Gerald. Firstly, he and his staff do beautiful work. But also, Gerald has a great sense of humour, a down to earth nature, and a practical, efficient mindset. When Gerald asked me to design and build him a website, I was delighted. I practically salivated at the opportunity to work with all his beautiful images of what my brother calls “house porn”. I couldn’t wait to get started!

Van Arbour Design WebsiteFast forward ten years, and we’ve just launched a brand new site for Van Arbour Design, now under the WordPress platform, where I felt we’d do a better job managing and displaying his various custom millwork image galleries, especially on mobile devices like iPads. Having just wrapped up the project, Gerald and I were discussing what he likes about his website, and why.

Here are the business problems Gerald’s website solves:

The website speeds up the design process by helping clients formalize their needs.

Building or renovating a house can be very overwhelming. I know this first hand. There are decisions you need to make literally every day of your project, and you have to make these calls way earlier than you ever thought you’d need to. Gerald’s website helps his clients make these decisions, and in turn communicate those decisions to him. Say, for example, a client is looking for a contemporary kitchen with a stainless steel apron mount sink. Gerald can pull out his iPad, open the Contemporary Kitchen Gallery, and say “do you mean like this one here in “Contemporary Kitchen 2“? Or, the client can flip through the galleries on their computer at home, and later say to Gerald “I want white shelves with lights underneath that stick out from the tiles like Contemporary Kitchen 16“, and Gerald knows they mean “white lacquered floating shelves with corbels and under-mounted puck lights”. The website speeds up the decision process, and makes Gerald’s job getting to final specs easier. And that, in turn, saves Van Arbour Design money.

The website negates the need for a showroom, which saves Gerald $50,000 in display millwork alone.

Van Arbour Design serves clients all over the world, but most come from Metro Vancouver. However, their workshop is in Aldergrove. Aldergrove is at least an hour’s drive from Vancouver. It’s unlikely a client would be happy trekking out to Aldergrove on a regular basis to look at cabinetry finishes. Luckily for Gerald, they don’t have to. His website serves as “virtual showroom”, showcasing their craftsmanship, presenting ideas and concepts, and helping clients decide what they like. Gerald figures that if he had to maintain a showroom, his cost just for the millwork alone would be over $50,000. And then there’s the rent…and those fancy showrooms in Yaletown don’t come cheap! Plus they need full time staff. Gerald’s website is his showroom, and he’s saving money on it every day.

Once a client has narrowed down their finish selections, Gerald then provides customized samples and display boards. Many of Gerald`s previous clients will also invite him to bring current clients into their homes to see his work. Everyone is always happy to show off his handiwork! This strategy, in tandem with his website, saves him big bucks every year.

This was a great gig for me, and I look forward to updating Gerald’s galleries as he completes more projects. And if any of you out there are thinking of renovating or building, I’ve got a fantastic guy for you! Visit www.vanarbourdesign.com, and tell him Annemarie sent you.

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