The NEWSasked the following questions in an informal poll of contractor readers:

1. Why did you choose your current Website design?

2. What are some of the best features at your Website?

3. Have you been able to track or validate any results, i.e., feedback, from your Website?

4.Do you constantly update the Website and do you plan to make any substantial changes to it in the near future?

Below is a condensed summation of each answer.

Why did you choose your current Website design?

• We work with a friend of mine who teaches Website design at a local community college and who designs Websites. 

• I hired a firm not experienced with HVAC to help differentiate.

• We liked the layout. It is not cluttered and is very easy for the customer to get information.

• Network solution provides an environment that is completely mine: No go-betweens and no artist consultants to argue with. It’s very reasonably priced.

• Easy to navigate, informative, professional, and promoted our company.

• We chose our current Website design as a user-friendly format that was pleasing to look at and easy to maneuver within.

• I wanted it to be able to tell our story in logical order, be laid out in different areas of our operations that customers would find useful depending on their focus, and be a research tool that they could use to first, find out about us and our business philosophy and practice, and then about various equipment options and manufacturers. The color scheme ties into our corporate image and fleet vehicle design colors as well.

• We had it designed to enable a comprehensive overview of our company along with links to all our principals. We also designed it for ease of navigation.

• Never having built a Website, I wanted something affordable and easy. It needed to be a site that we could manage ourselves. Other companies offered to get us “all set-up” but for a fee of several thousands of dollars.

• It was the best template available offered by Domain Direct.

• We hired a local advertising agency to coordinate all of our customer outreach.

• I have had two design changes of our Website and I’m working on a third.

• It is what my designer chose for me.

• We wanted to be able to present information to our customers in intuitive, user-friendly manner. Basically, we wanted our Website usable by anyone.

• We chose our Website design for easy navigation, explanation of our new products, and for increased sales.

• Our old one would not organically rise up the list.

• We replicated the design based on the ability for it to be easy to use. We want the information for customers to come quickly and easy.

• We choose that format because it was a template on Yahoo! SiteBuilder. 

• We designed our Website with the user in mind. It was redesigned in the winter of 2007, with a goal of allowing each user to find the most relevant content as to their needs for our HVAC services.

• We didn’t so much choose a Website design as we did create it from scratch with a few basic principles in mind.

• It has evolved over the years, we listen to Web designers and just built our own.

• It looks and feels the way that I want people to see our business: clean, dependable, and excellent.

What are some of the best features at your Website?

• Navigation is simple for starters. We stress our involvement with the community as well as our technical expertise.

• Graphic home page, good content, fast, and auto responder.

• The ease of adding pages, changing information, keeping it current with the company.

• I can edit on the fly. I can upload and edit very easily. The search submissions bring a good number of hits each week.

• Online Request Form for Service, Survey Forms for our Customers, Banner Ads, Financing Pre-Approval Link, Testimonials.

• The education information on air conditioning and energy savings. There is a free service on the site where a visitor can sign up to be reminded on a date each month that they choose, that it’s time to change their filter. Also the ability to request service, quotes, and maintenance.

• The home page and animation (project slide shows, logo, etc.).

• Our customers’ testimonials and our Value Page.

• Some of the best features are the amount of product info pages along with the ability to book a service call online and the ability to have over 125 meta tags to help increase the searchability of our Website. Also we have a career opportunities tab.

• Curbside appeal, the homey effect.

• The best features are the 500 information/education pages.

• The ability to schedule appointments online, review our TV commercials right on the Website, and maneuver through the site with ease.

• We have an online store which allows customers to purchase directly from the Website. It also allows us to introduce a new product to the market.

• Organically it is highly rated and has video clips.

• We think that being able to have things like scheduling service or sales calls is key, we think having a savings calculator is key for replacement, being able to custom build a service agreement online is helpful, and a Web store for purchasing filters or other IAQ items. We will be adding installation instructions for thermostats.

• Our site communicates our capabilities quickly. We have a number of pictures that can give an idea of the type of equipment we service and install. One can quickly see we take safety very seriously. The ease of navigation is really important. Click on capabilities and you see it. Click on safety and there it is. An individual can have a resume in our HR department by simply clicking a link.

• The content is always fresh. We try to post an article one to two times a week. We are presently working on a controls glossary. We are first and foremost a HVAC contractor. We have a feature whereby a customer can request our company to “sub” the portion of the job they are working on.

• Very user friendly, gets the point across quickly, but also has very in-depth education features for customer research.

Have you been able to track or validate any results, i.e., feedback, from your Website?

• Through the site analyst tools such as Google tools and other analyst tools available on the site. We can find out what pages were looked at, how long they were on a page, or how they found us.

• I answer every question I get through inquiries by adding content about the questions into the Website. That makes the site complete every time I edit the work.

• We track through Google Analytics and phone verification upon a call to request service or more information about our company.

• Our feedback is very positive. We are able to measure the quantity of requests we get for service, quotes, etc., on the Internet.

• We use what we feel is important but there is more we can do with the available information, time and effort permitting and increasing in priority. Seeing the information available and doing something productive with it are two different things.

• While we do not have “counters,” we do receive inquiries from around the world and actually parts businesses from around the U.S.

• We can see how many hits per month we’ve received. We have gotten a few e-mails asking for someone to call them for an estimate appointment. We also have a link to our Website from a couple of the manufacturers’ Websites.

• We track all our Web stats through a company called Livestats.xsp. They provide a ton of usable info that we use for marketing.

• Not yet, but we are about to hire a local tracking company to drive people to our site with results.

• Monthly we receive a usage report which gives us a lot of information regarding who uses our site, what time of day it’s used most along with what days of the week, and it tells us how they are coming to our site.

• We have recorded numerous inquiries from our online presence along with providing the convenience for our clients to schedule emergency services online. The rise in online inquiries is fostered through organic search engine results and an established Google ranking of “four,” which continues to increase daily through content updates and keyword research.

• We do have analytics set up to keep track of traffic and can easily have the Website generate reports for the number of leads. We are also working on enhancing this reporting and get a clear idea of what searches people are interested in so we can bring in more customers from the search engines.

• We have had visitors post questions, which are answered almost immediately. Recently we added a new feature, whereby the visitor can ask a private question and it is delivered to our e-mail. This has resulted in questions being answered to a specific problem a visitor is having.

• We keep track of where, when and what the visitor is most interested in on our Website. As we see the need, we try to improve the ease of navigation, clarification, and content.

Do you constantly update the Website and do you plan to make any substantial changes to it in the near future?

• We do minor updating continually and are in the process of starting a more major upgrade.

• We add or change at least monthly.

• I edit the site once per week or more when required.

• Banners change depending on seasons and offers. We do change the copy throughout the year. We are currently looking at redoing the site this year.

• We do update it with timely information such as special offers or new information. However, there are areas of improvement we will be making. IAQ information needs to be bolstered on our site and made more robust. Overall, we get favorable comments on our layout and content so a major overhaul is unlikely. Keeping it fresh within the framework already established and the online identity we have will become even more of a continuous process event.

• We have not updated but plan to add some more photos and testimonials.

• Not constantly but I would like to update it, but that costs money and diesel is $4.25 a gallon. I would like to add live web chat and live ordering.

• We are constantly updating the Website and plan to add a link to YouTube for video demonstrations of our products.

• The Website is a living site. It is continually updated throughout every year. We try to make it as up to date as possible.

• One update currently in the works is to allow clients to view complete account information online through a registered account portal. This access will allow our clients to see all open invoices, balances due, upcoming work orders, and completed work orders with technician comments.

• Our Website has been updated several times in the past but it is time to update our site again. I am looking forward to making our site better and improved. We have so many new things to share with our customers and potential employees it is really exciting.

Publication date:05/19/2008