The selected case studies are for educational purposes only, intended to show successful techniques of website design for HVAC contractors in Cedar Rapids, using real-world examples.
Website Design for HVAC Contractors in Cedar Rapids
Case Study 1:
LINS Heating and Air Conditioning
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Structural Features and Benefits
This website is mobile-responsive, ensuring that no matter which device is used to view the site, the customer’s navigating experience will be agreeable. The header contains the navigation above the logo and tagline, which still works well. (The current trend is to drop the top navigational menu below the logo, but I believe that is mainly because slideshows have become popular and some separation of images is helpful). The phone number is listed twice in the header, which causes no problems, however, I might have recommended a second or third call to action instead, such as free estimates and like us on Facebook. The website uses a standard 2-column design with a right-hand sidebar on all pages in desktop view. These can be valuable for displaying vital information such as contact details, calls to action, and so on. Especially with desktop views, there can be a lot of unused white space, and sidebars break up the page visually making content easier for consumers to consume. The main content areas are easy to read, with white background and reasonably large text.
Content Features and Benefits
The color scheme is simple and effective, with blues and reds being especially suited to the heating and cooling industry. The logo looks great and can multitask between on- and offline promotional uses. The content pages efficiently highlight the service offerings by residential heating and cooling, commercial heating and cooling, as well as technology-specific breakdowns like air conditioners, furnaces, water heaters, and so on. As an example, if my furnace needed repair, I would immediately navigate to residential page, verify services for furnace repair, and make my decision based on the content I read. Here the content is tight and efficiently written. I might recommend more text-based content over time to ensure the pages are well optimized for all products and service offerings, but as long as the website is being found, the most important function is to lend a feeling of assurance that ultimately initiates a phone call for service. As far as images, most pages have one or two, which helps the eye absorb the content. Many times people only need to see the images of the brands serviced and installed, and this seems especially true with heating and cooling repair issues. On each page, topic areas are highlighted in larger blue fonts, and often that’s all one’s eye will read. I would recommend customer testimonials be added, either as a separate page or interlaced and highlighted here and there on various pages. On the Contact Us page, the owner’s picture is included, and he’s genuinely smiling, which I think helps a buyer’s peace of mind.
Add-on Features and Benefits
A Contact Us form is included, in which the client fills out an email form and clicks submit. The form information will be emailed to the service department. Forms are great when used well. When doing client website design for HVAC contractors in Cedar Rapids, I often recommend a form that also makes scheduling service calls easier, and, at a minimum, adding the form fields necessary to help that process along. This HVAC website lists Twitter and Facebook social media links in the footer. I would recommend a more direct relationship between the website content and the social media–for example, social share icons so happy clients can share select content. I would also recommend a short video be added to the homepage, as those are very easy to do and quite effective at projecting a feeling about the business.
LINS Heating and Air Conditioning has all the vital bases covered. From here, they might consider doing an inexpensive cosmetic makeover, and perhaps getting on a more modern platform. There is some truth to the concept of a website “looking old” after only a few years of dedicated service. Modern website design software in the hands of a proficient designer could fix that up easily. Most of the content and structure is already in place, keeping things simple.
Case Study 2:
JP Plumbing and Heating
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Structural Features and Benefits
This website has several important features that indicate its modern software-based design. As always, rows and columns are used to break up the overall layout from the header area to the content area to the footer area, and the website also sports a nice sidebar, which is held consistent on every page. I can see immediately the underlying platform on which this website is built (WordPress). Telltale signs are the in the header. First, there is a search box for enabling a site-wide search of the content. WordPress is ideal for content creation (and lots of it), so the system has integrated the search functionality as part of the base. That specific functionality is not necessarily useful for the average small business website; however, when the platform is used well (meaning adding lots and lots of content), search functions are very handy. It is the WordPress platform that is most impressive here, because it, by itself is the number one website design platform in the world, hosting almost 25-30% of all modern websites. This website is mobile-responsive and plays well with modern smart phones and tables (including iPhone and iPad). It is very critical for websites to be what Google calls “mobile-friendly,” which essentially means it re-sizes itself automatically to screen size, something older website design techniques do not handle well. (Check out the screenshot links above to see the variations) This website’s top navigation is sound, with the business logo on the left. Given a tablet or smart phone, the navigation changes to the clickable menu link, saving space on the small screen. With a desktop view, the content areas are divided into a two-column rundown that offsets key service offerings down the page with great use of images inside each column. Check out this Screenshot CS2d (Tablet View) to see what I mean. This method very efficiently uses the available white space on the site, giving potential customers little snippets of information for easy digestion. In my experience, it is a wise practice, as confirmed with website design for HVAC contractors in Cedar Rapids, to embed the business phone number near the top of each page close to the logo.
Content Features and Benefits
Which comes first, the logo or the website? In this case, as in most, the logo comes first. A splash of red coloring is all the website designer needs to build from. Here, the rest of the website has been colored using the same red for backgrounds and accents. The content area has been left white, with black text for easy readability. Highlights include larger text with red or gray coloring, helping certain information stand out. One such highlight on the home page points out the ability of this HVAC contractor to repair and install complete heating and air conditioning. The eye goes to this highlighted area, and there are several others through the various website pages, effectively selling services without being overly wordy. Very important is the sidebar content. Find us on Facebook, followed by hours, followed by a quick list of services, followed by areas served. Because this information is enlarged, and in bold typeface, it pops off the screen, once again, giving the website visitor the highlights at a glance. I’d be remiss not to mention the other fancy features present on this website, created thanks to the power of WordPress. The first is the Call to Action text block and big red button on the homepage (“Find Out More”), laid over top a nice landscape image of a comfortable home. While clicking on it simply goes to the about us page, the design feature is so inviting, and so prominently displayed, that a visitor feels compelled to click it. Below that, and to the same effect, are colored icons labeled “Plumbing”, “Heating”, “Cooling”, and “Water Treatment.” These features are no more helpful than simple links to pages, but they do have a more modern look and feel, and because the right WordPress software (and knowing how to use it) does most of this easily, it’s worth doing. You’ll also notice the “Get A Quote” tab that stays on the top-left side of each page. It brings up a simple email form. For HVAC contractors, this type of service quote form can be very helpful in starting a dialogue with a prospective client. My only recommendation here would be to add more details to the type of quote being requested. For example, New Furnace Installation quote, New Air Conditioner Quote, New Water Heater Quote, and so on. In my experience, heating and cooling contractors often give free quotes for the installation of new equipment, but not for repair work. These type of distinctions can easily be made. Finally, the footer area is segmented into four columns, and within each column is information on brands served, etc. These images can be linked to the manufacture’s website, if desired. Manufacturers usually their update spec sheets, etc, so linking to them keeps the HVAC contractor’s update chores minimal.
Add-on Features and Benefits
There are only a few add-on features, including the social media link to Facebook, the Get A Quote contact form, and the Call to Action banner at the top. Since I’ve already mentioned these above, I’ll not cover the benefits again. What could be added to improve user engagement? A photo gallery of service technicians at work, staff members in the office, company vehicles and equipment, and so on. The addition of real photos (not stock photos) makes a world of difference from the customer’s perspective. For me, seeing the service technicians who will be working inside my home, as well as the office staff I’ll be talking to over the phone, improves my feeling of trust and reassurance. Most people prefer to put a face to a name. Stock photos can be used, but in my opinion, real photos always sell better. Two more easy add-ons, given this website’s WordPress platform, could be audio and video. Very frequently, the HVAC contractors I’ve worked with have done either T.V. or radio ad spots, often both, and those can be uploaded easily to the website. Typically, they’ve been professionally scripted and recorded, so adding them never hurts. It usually proves true that video commercials placed on a contractor’s front page will almost always be watched.
Hands down, the best thing about this website is the underlying platform it’s built on. For my clients, I almost always use WordPress, especially over the past five years or so. My website design software is cutting edge for WordPress implementations, so I’ve witness first hand how powerful the platform is at helping bring money in the door, especially compared to other platforms. Simply put, everything a small business website will need or want can be done. Assuming a skilled content writer who understands advanced website design for HVAC contractors in Cedar Rapids, this website could dominate the local search ranking by virtue of it’s platform alone. I would recommend investing a bit more development time with that goal in mind. Otherwise, the basics are there.