The selected case studies are for educational purposes only, intended to show successful techniques of website design for HVAC contractors in Iowa City, using real-world examples.
Website Design for HVAC Contractors in Iowa City
Case Study 1:
Brandt Heating and Air Conditioning
Iowa City, Iowa
Structural Features and Benefits
This is a really great website! At the top, before anything else, Brandt displays their phone number and email address. This holds true in all mobile views. The underlying platform is modern, which lends to the sleek design and 100% responsive to screen size. In desktop view, the header (including the phone number, email address, logo, and primary menu) remains “stuck” at the top, often called a fixed header, and this is a smart feature for maintaining navigation during long vertical page scrolls. There are quite a few navigational links at the top, indicating the amount of time and attention Brandt has given to their website. Most of the menus include sub-menu drop-downs to neatly nest sub-pages within categories. For example, under the main Heating links, there are sub-pages for the various manufacturers Brandt installs and services. The home page is inviting, showing off design elements that have become visually appealing over the past couple of years: a slideshow with four full-width slides, another four-column row with graphical icons, another row with an image gallery of fireplaces, another with manufacturers’ logos, also a call-to-action section inviting prospects to join the “comfort club”, then a row of photos of current Brandt managers, also a row of testimonials, then the footer section. Down the page the prospect scrolls, seeing several eye-catching sections. This is modern design. Off the homepage, all of the other pages are straight content pages with a right-hand sidebar. A very effective structure overall. Very professional looking, constructed with modern page-building software on top of the WordPress platform.
Content Features and Benefits
This website also uses colors efficiently, sticking with just three–red, charcoal, and white. Photos are used generously on each page, adding color to the mix without being overly fancy. Red accent colors are used well, highlighting such things as hover links, drop down menus, icons, buttons, and so on. Without a doubt, the desktop version appears clean and simple, which is my preferred method of design. The mobile responsiveness is top-notch, transitioning easily to various screen sizes while holding consistent with the design aesthetic. Overall, the content (especially the choice of images) lends a feeling of personal service and high integrity. I believe this has been accomplished, in large part, courtesy of real photographs of happy staff and clients. I always recommend using personal photos rather than stock photos for my small business clients, including my website design for HVAC contractors in Iowa City. There is an abundance of content on Brandt’s website, equating to top search results on Google, and most likely on Yahoo and Bing as well. The benefits of using a competent website designer appear to be paying off.
Add-on Features and Benefits
I’ve already mentioned slideshows, and so on, on the homepage, which I consider added bells and whistles. I’m in favor of them as long as they are added over time, rather than being a primary focus from the start. Brant’s website has clearly been developed to include lots of solid content in support of the extra goodies, so on this website they work, adding a strong sense of professionalism and assurance. Included add-ons are social media links like Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. A quick hop to the LinkedIn profile proves that Brandt has a marketing manager, and I find this so unique to most small businesses that I’m infinitely impressed. I would normally only recommend extensive use of social media to small business clients who have a dedicated person on staff to handle those platforms. My top recommendation for this website would be to add some video, especially on the homepage–people are busy, time is short, and videos have proven to engage most prospects.
I can’t say enough good things about this website. I will say with confidence that it’s an excellent example of how to do website design for HVAC contractors in Iowa City. Any small business owner or manager seeking sound ideas might study this website as a great example.
Case Study 2:
Kelly Heating and Air Conditioning
Iowa City, Iowa
Structural Features and Benefits
Quite similar in many ways to the previous case study, Kelly Heating and Air Conditioning’s website has been built on a relatively modern website platform. While not specifically WordPress, the platform is likewise a content management system (CMS). Structurally, the two platforms have evolved in similar directions. I will say, however, that WordPress has a much larger community of independent developers to support it, whereas Kelly’s website is dependent on a smaller pool of qualified web designers who understand how to develop on it. In fact, this is the only use of this other platform I’ve seen in several years’ work at website design for HVAC contractors in Iowa City. Setting the platform aside, there are several structural features that are working well here. First, we have a responsive rows and columns layout, with good use of contact information in the header. Next, the main navigation makes good common sense, including drop-down sub-menus under the “Products and Services” link. The site is mostly a no-sidebar design, so fuller page widths are used for content. I especially like the links to furnace and air conditioner specification pages, although I might recommend the use of manufacture created PDF spec sheets to a larger extent, since models change from year to year and PDFs are easier and more efficient to update when promoting new installation products. Regarding the business logo, I would encourage a minor change on Kelly’s website, separating the logo from the image slides on the home page and bringing the logo up into the header area of the website in the same manner as is done on the other pages. The way it sits currently, the slideshow banners must be maintained with logos embedded (not as easy) and mobile responsiveness suffers somewhat by needing to haul in a completely different logo than that which is displayed on the desktop view. Perhaps this is a limitation with the CMS platform being used, or with the design theme being used. Updating to WordPress would be my number one recommendation, because I know the platform handles such basic structural issues well.
Content Features and Benefits
Several content goodies are worth noting for those interested in website design for HVAC contractors in Iowa City. I find most prospects who call for heating and cooling services greatly appreciate testimonials. Kelly’s testimonials page is eye-appealing and presented in such as way as to be unique and very readable. Blocks of text in quotation marks sell very well. Here, these are listed under the About Us main menu, and the testimonials are written out as “Customer Reviews.” Another great feature on this website is the Rebates section. A perfect example of how proper use of a business website can be a major time saver. If I buy a new furnace or air-conditioner, for example, I’ll want to apply for rebates from the utility company. For an HVAC contractor to provide these rebate forms online is ESSENTIAL, in my opinion, because it saves administrative time in mailing, emailing, or hand-delivering the forms. As business owners, we often overlook the benefits of providing all our forms online via our websites. Imagine the IRS website…there are hundreds or thousands of forms available on IRS.gov, and when you need one, it’s just a few clicks away. Most HVAC contractors should take a lesson from Kelly and get their forms online. The last thing I’ll mention under content features is Kelly’s use of Service Agreement Customer Referral Program, which is a form they uploaded to their Products and Services page. Such a form would be an ideal example of what a heating and cooling contractor might promote via Facebook. Simply push this page out as a Facebook post, or email it to previous customers. This is a very savvy page, which, if used correctly, can help generate desirable word of mouth.
Add-on Features and Benefits
Facebook is listed, as well as Twitter. I’ve yet to find Twitter helpful for business websites, but I suppose it could be for someone who really knows and uses that system. I discourage my clients from taking on social media just for the sake of “doing it all.” Far more effective is to use the systems you know and love in your own daily interaction with friends and family. In that regard, Facebook seems to hold the magic elixir for most people. On Kelly’s homepage, the image slideshow is nice (I particularly find the thermostat slide the most appealing). With images and slideshows, a great way to choose photos is to ask fellow employees, friends, and family to select their favorites. You could also ask your website designer, who is impartial, to tell you which of your images might show you in the best light to potential customers. Keep in mind that conveying an image is the main reason we add photos, and the photos that best fit how you’d like to be perceived are the ones to add. For example, as an HVAC contractor, you may care a lot about projecting a family-friendly vibe, since you will be invited into someone’s home, and so the pictures should project a trustworthy image. Additionally, you may want to appear competent in tearing open a furnace and working on the inside, and so action photos of service techs are great. Videos and audio work well, too. Just imagine a t.v. or radio commercial designed to give a family-friendly impression and a feeling of confidence in workmanship. On Kelly’s website, in my opinion, there is a lack of “real” photos, and I’d highly recommend adding more.
What Kelly has going for it’s website is a great start. There is enough information present to make for a well rounded, engaging website. What needs to be added next, from an objective and impartial point of view, are more images and maybe a video or two to personalize the site. As it sits currently, it appears very industrial to my eye, and each page should be warmed up a bit. Given that every eye is different, take my opinion with a grain of salt. I would encourage a revamp of the platform to WordPress, and a fresh set of eyes from a designer who know how to work it. I would also reduce the number of pages by a judicial merger of content, because several of the pages have too little going on to be effective with either prospective clients or search engines. I might suggest going from 20+ pages of content to say 10, without losing any of the valuable textual content, product links, etc, that currently exist. From a customer’s point of view, excess clicking is a handicap, especially with the proliferation of mobile devices. Scrolling is better and easier for most people, and so to make people click (and wait) for a single paragraph has become less desirable in the modern world of web surfing. Overall, this website does many things right, so it’s worthy of study.