Hello, I am hoping to get some opinions on this.

I work with a manufactured home dealer, they have four separate companies that work together:
1) mfg home retailer (does the deal for the mfg home)
2) development company (purchases lots and develops them to be ready to accept new mfg homes)
3) real estate office (sells the package, land+home)
4) mfg home service (mfg home service work and installation/setup)

They currently have 4 different domain names and websites, one for each, very poorly made sites as well.

I have been setting up a database for the companies as a whole, and have completed database interface for them to use, the next step is creating the front end websites.

My thinking on this so far leans toward having all four domains point to one website that explains the relationship of the four companies, their roles in the process, etc.

My goal is to not confuse visitors, and I currently believe that four websites with independent identities/looks might cause visitors to question weather they are at the right 'place' to get the information/help they are looking for.

I would like to know what your thoughts are on this subject as web users and developers.

Thank you.

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A common title bar format, title images, and css file, combined with links to the other sites, seems in order.

I get resistance from the company when I try to make them the same, they seem to have it stuck in their head that each company needs to look different from the others, have their own identity.

Problem is that when I question them about what independent services each company provides, there is none really to speak of, these 4 companies work almost exclusively as a team from my understanding.

As a consumer, I don't like to be shuffled around, I want to make contact with a company, and pretty much deal with the same person from start to finish, and if at any point I get confused, I back up.

That is what I want to avoid with the website, I want a customer that starts working with the mfg home retailer to spec a new home to know that "the company" also has a package deal with that home on a 1 acre lot for X number of dollars including a garage, etc. and if they go that route then the final sale will happen through "my good friend sitting at the desk right next to mine", the real estate agent.

If a customer buys one of the land and home packages, they end up using all four companies, I just don't want the customer feeling like they are dealing with four different companies, they have enough to worry about all ready.

That is my thinking, please weigh in :)

I posted this exact question in another web development forum to get as many opinions on this as I can, if I am wrong, which I could very well be, then I do it the company way, if my opinions seem to be the more popular, and since were talking about a website, popular is good right?, I will take the supporting opinions to the company and present my argument with support ;)

That's why I suggested that only the title bar across the top be the same. Make the main parts of the pages individual. You get it both ways.

commented: Thank you for taking the time to express your opinion and experience. +1

i have recently finished a project for one group which owns four companys and i had the opposite. they wanted identical sites with minor differences.

answer is dont fight your customer/client do it their way or you doint get paid!

offer critisism where nescessary if you think it will work better one way or antoher

commented: Thank you for taking the time to express your opinion and experience. +1

Very true Fungus.

I did learn that the Real Estate company does do business other than that related to selling new mfg homes via their land & home packages, so I can definitely see some separation needed there.

When I get together with them, I am going to ask a simple question, "What service does each company offer the public?".

It is my understanding now that at least 3 of them do, but the development company only there to provide land for the mfg retailer to put a home on, so the Real Estate company can sell it.

The old website for the development company only advertised what was for sale on the Real Estate web site, in fact everything was just direct linked to the Real Estate site, so it was confusing, I think I can make them separate site like they want, but talk them out of the confusing cross domain direct linking to individual items for sale.

I think the development site could just explain what they do for the corp. and provide links that clearly communicate that the visitor will be taken to a different website.

To prove my case about clarity I will just use myself as an example, I have worked with these companies, and when they lost the guy that had built and maintained their old website, I have made changes to the content of their old sites, but I still couldn't get a handle on what company did what.

Thanks for the input.

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