Competition is high in the HVAC industry. There are often dozens of companies and service providers in a single market and it can be difficult for the smaller companies without a massive franchise backing to stand out. But if there’s one way to emerge from the pack as a definitive and authoritative leader, it’s with your website.
Your website is the “home base” of your digital presence. It’s the central point through which all of your efforts flow – including SEO link building, content, social media, PPC, and other traffic and lead generation strategies. If you can develop and design a compelling website that resonates with your target audience, good things will happen for you.
In this article, we’re going to walk you through some of the key principles of effective HVAC website design, why you need to focus on these elements, and some tips and tricks for putting them into action.
We’ll also take a look at some specific real-world examples to give you an idea of what some of these best practices look like in action.
And finally, we’ll explore the three major options you have for designing your website, so that you have a clear understanding of where to go from here.
Let’s dive in…
The Importance of Good HVAC Website Design
It’s easy to think your HVAC website isn’t that important. After all, you aren’t selling products directly from your website.
Why can’t we just pick the easiest template we find, slap on our logo, and call it a day?
And while you technically can do this, it wouldn’t make for a very effective or high-converting website.
The reality is that good HVAC website design is intentional. It requires focus, discipline, and forethought – particularly when it comes to the details.
To help you understand the importance of good design, let’s briefly touch on a few of the reasons why it matters:
- First impressions. Research indicates that 3-of-4 website users make a judgment about a company’s credibility based purely on the site’s visual design. And for or better or worse, these first impressions are formed in just 50 milliseconds.
- Conversion rate. Did you know that 38 percent of website visitors will actually stop engaging with a website if they find it visually unattractive? In other words, a poorly designed website will see nearly two out of every five visitors leave before ever having the chance to engage with them. That’s what you call a major conversion killer.
- Brand trust. You might not have a way to directly monetize your website in the same way that an ecommerce store can, but your website is equally as important. Because when you push past all of the noise and zero in on what really matters, you’ll realize that you’re in the “trust” business. That’s what you’re selling. And a well-designed website that makes a positive first impression and communicates a clear message acts as a trust builder.
- Search rankings. There’s nothing wrong with paid traffic, but your website is most effective when it’s generating organic traffic. More specifically, you want as much organic search traffic as possible.
In other words, your HVAC website’s design isn’t just for looks. It has a tangible impact on your company’s digital presence. If you take this seriously, big things will happen for you.
9 Powerful Website Design Best Practices
The amazing thing about website design is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. While every website has its own unique visual appeal and design, the same underlying principles hold true across the board. By doing the following, you can almost guarantee you’ll generate a high-converting website every single time:
1. Keep It Simple, Silly
Don’t overcomplicate things. You’re designing an HVAC website, not building the next Amazon or eBay. The best thing you can do is keep the design simple and straightforward.
Study after study shows that website visitors are turned off by visual complexity and would much rather visit websites that have a simple website experience. There are a couple of ways you can take advantage of this:
- Reduce the number of pages you have on your site. Not only does this simplify your website navigation and menu options (which prevents overwhelm), but it also leads to a faster website.
- Avoid lots of flash, movement, and complicated design elements. A standard layout is all you need to engage your visitors. It sounds boring, but it’s true.
Simple sells. It’s why some of the most successful websites on the internet are also the least flashy. By stripping away all of the unnecessary fluff and focusing on the meat, you’ll see your conversion rates soar.
2. Prioritize Website Speed
Speed is extremely important. The longer it takes a page to load, the higher your bounce rate will be. (Likewise, you’ll see your conversion rate plummet.) Even if it’s just a second or two, shaving time off your page loading speed will boost engagement, enhance SEO, and elevate conversions. Try the following:
- Run a site speed test to see where you currently stand. This will give you an idea of how much you need to improve by in order to maximize your conversions.
- Images account for the majority of a website’s total page loading time. If your website is super slow, consider compressing images. There are a number of plugins that will do this for you automatically. Make sure you take advantage of them.
- With a large percentage of traffic now coming from mobile devices, you have to give mobile users an exceptional experience. Responsive website design can help. Not only does it ensure your site is displayed consistently across all devices and browsers, but it ensures pages load faster for mobile users.
These are just a few tips. If you’re really committed to boosting your site speed, there are plenty of other proactive steps you can take. Any time spent optimizing for speed will be time well spent.
3. Create a Simple and Compelling USP
Every HVAC company needs a unique selling proposition (USP). If you don’t already have one, stop what you’re doing and schedule a meeting with your team. It’s imperative that you develop a compelling USP right away.
A USP is one of the foundational pillars of any successful marketing campaign. It’s a concise statement that explains what makes your business unique and why your target customers should care.
Generally speaking, a USP should be short (just a phrase or sentence), should focus on what makes you different from every other HVAC company in the area, and should clearly speak to the niche you’re going after.
“We serve Atlanta homeowners” is not a USP.
“We respond to Atlanta’s HVAC needs in 6 hours or it’s free” is a USP. It’s concise, unique, and niche-specific.
Once you have your USP, you’ll prominently feature it as part of your website’s design. It should be one of the first things a visitor sees when they land on your home page.
4. Embrace the Laws of Visual Hierarchy
The best website designers – meaning those who are focused on producing conversions – make all of their design decisions based on the laws of visual hierarchy. In other words, they have a bag of tricks that they can use to make something stand out. (Likewise, they understand how to design elements so that they’re much more subtle and complementary.)
Elements that are on the high end of the visual prominence spectrum tend to be positioned at the top of the page. They’re large, feature strong contrast, and have unique colors. They may have some movement (like video) and are generally surrounded by negative space.
Elements that fall on the low end of the visual prominence spectrum are usually located at the bottom of the page. They tend to be small in size and feature very minimal contrast. The elements are usually text, though they can contain icons and other simple visuals.
5. Focus Above the Fold
The fold is an extremely important concept in HVAC website design. It allows you to divide any page into two distinct sections:
- Above the fold: Anything that’s located at the top of the page and is visible to the user without having to scroll down.
- Below the fold: Anything that’s located on the lower portion of the page and requires scrolling in order to see.
Naturally, your above-the-fold design gets the most visibility and engagement. Thus it’s important that you place all of your most important elements near the top of the page. (This includes your USP, opt-in form, CTA, and/or social proof.)
Below-the-fold design matters, too. However, there’s no guarantee that a visitor will make it this far. With this in mind, you have to keep it simple and direct. The further someone scrolls, the more likely it is that they’ll lose interest and click away. Keep the visitor engaged by continually calling out a consistent CTA.
6. Give Visitors Fewer Choices
People typically think they like choices, when research shows we actually prefer limited options. (To understand this phenomenon, look no further than this groundbreaking study where people were 10-times more likely to buy a product when they had significantly fewer choices.)
When designing your website, avoid excessive choices. Simplify the user experience by limiting form fields, focusing on a singular CTA, reducing the number of pages, and sticking to one specific goal per page.
7. Avoid Sliders and carousels
There was a time when almost every HVAC website in the industry had a rotating carousel or slider on their home page. But over time, website designers and conversion optimizers have discovered that these design features are largely ineffective.
According to one study from Notre Dame University, the first slide/visual on a carousel gets 90 percent of all clicks. The rest of the items are essentially ignored. Not only that, but people find the movement of rotating carousels to be distracting.
Clean card-based design is almost always a superior option to sliders. Not only do they look better, but they encourage greater visibility by ensuring each item is visible the entire time. 9And without distracting movement, users find it easier to remain focused.
8. Use Original Visuals
Stock photos are free and convenient, but they’re largely ineffective. Not only do they look cheesy and “pre-canned,” but they fail to resonate with your ideal target audience. It takes a little more time, but using original images and custom visuals will amplify your website and help you connect on a much more fundamental level.
Original visuals, which means actual pictures of your team, clients, and past work, humanizes your brand and makes visitors more likely to connect on a visceral level. If you don’t already have these visuals on file, hire a professional photographer to follow your team around for a couple of days. You’ll have plenty of content to choose from.
9. Utilize Social Proof
The final suggestion is to use as much social proof as possible in your HVAC website design. This includes trust badges (like BBB certification, SSL certificates, local business chamber membership, etc.), client testimonials, reviews and star ratings, and case studies.
We recommend using social proof throughout your website design, but it’s especially powerful when placed above the fold. This ensures you’re making a positive first impression right from the start.
Real-World HVAC Website Design Examples
Up until this point, we’ve offered some helpful principles and tips you can use to design a high-converting HVAC website. If we left it at that, there would be plenty of actionable insights for you to implement. But what better way to cement these principles into your mind than by looking at a few real-world examples from the HVAC industry?
While we don’t recommend copying these designs, there are some good elements to pick and pull from each.
Let’s take a look:
This isn’t the most visually appealing HVAC website ever, but it works. They do a good job of using a simple, distraction-free design with only the essential information above the fold. There’s a clear CTA and a very simple and memorable USP.
While this page is a little to “busy,” it has some really strong elements that make it a worthy example. The USP is clear and appeals to the audience’s emotions. There’s also social proof in the form of a 2020 Angie’s List Super Service Award.
This is a really interesting and enticing HVAC website. Not only do they have a really compelling brand and unique value proposition, but they’re extremely clear on who their target audience is. They aren’t trying to be all things to all people, which allows them to create a visually satisfying and enticing website design.
How to Design Your HVAC Website
Now that you understand what goes into an effective HVAC website and have seen some examples of how these elements flesh themselves out in the real-world, you’re probably wondering how you can design a new website or revamp your existing one.
When it comes to designing a website, you have more options than ever. But it’s easiest to think about it in terms of three distinct buckets:
- Do-it-yourself (DIY) is the cheapest option, but it requires lots of time and plenty of skill. You’ll have to learn how to develop and design your own website and/or mess around with some sort of site builder until you’re able to find something that works.
- A done-with-you (DWY) approach typically involves selecting a pre-designed template, incorporating it into your site, and then making a few changes to customize it to your brand. This option is less time-intensive, but can sometimes be frustrating. Because you’re working within an existing template, there are certain elements that are difficult to manipulate or change. Plus, there’s always the chance that another HVAC company could have the same exact layout and design.
- In a done-for-you (DFY) scenario, you hire a professional website designer to create a fully customized look that aligns with your brand’s style, goals, and needs. This option costs more than DIY or DWY, but you have to consider the long-term value. A DFY website will almost always produce better results, which means it delivers a much higher ROI.
The option you choose will depend on your budget, time, skills, and goals. While DIY and DWY can be effective, these options don’t hold a candle to the DFY option.
When you hire a professional to design your website for you, it changes everything. Not only will it get done faster, but you’ll end up with a superior end product that magnetizes local homeowners and establishes trust. You’ll see a massive difference.
Build Your HVAC Website With DEV.co
At DEV.co, we do more than design websites. We architect unrivaled digital experiences by mixing beautiful interfaces with high-conversion elements that help you reach the right people with the right message at the right time.
If you’re looking for an experienced website developer to breathe new life into your HVAC site, we would love to help. Simply tell us about your project and we’ll get in touch with some next steps!
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