As I surf the Internet looking at different Websites from different industries, I am very impressed with some of the designs that HVAC contractors have come up with. I would imagine that these business owners have something to do with the final content, but I think more and more of them depend on other people with more Web design savvy. After all, these contractors are in the indoor comfort business, not creating streaming video or dancing icons.
Personally, I like a clean Website with little clutter, some eye-catching graphics or pictures, and lots of hot buttons to other features and other pages. What about you?
IF YOU ARE INTO DESIGNING...You may be the hands-on type who likes to dabble in new technology. I know your type - the owner who likes to sample the latest combustion analyzer or wireless PDA before passing it along to the employees. You like gadgets and would rather test drive them first. That way, you are the expert on the product before any of your employees. I get that and I understand that.
So why not dabble a bit in Website design? With all of the user-friendly tools out there, Website design is becoming more commonplace for non-techies, witness the book "Complete Idiot's Guide to Creating a Web Page & Blog." If a topic makes it to the "Complete Idiot's Guide To..." then it is time to sit up and take notice.
If you are simple-minded like yours truly, you look for the easiest way to seek a successful means to an end. I have tried designing a couple of Websites using tools from Yahoo! Small Business help. It is pretty easy to follow along using their popular SiteBuilder software (free to download if you are a Yahoo! Member). You can insert your own text, pictures, graphics, page effects, form elements, etc. If you want a simple, how-do-you-do Website, this is not a bad way to start.
If you want more bells and whistles and very good tutorials, you might want to contact Dave Squires. Squires is the founder of Contr@ctors Online-Access (www.online-access.com). Besides designing Websites, Squires also makes a feature available for would-be designers. It's called the PagePilot HVAC Web Site System.
I have to admit, I've been playing around with the PagePilot in a sample Website I am designing. Squires gave me an onsite demonstration of the product during a recent trade show we both attended. For those of us whose knowledge of Website design is slightly above nomadic, this is a great way to add many of the features to your Website that professional designers use.
THE NEWS IS A GREAT EXAMPLEIf you want to see a great design with many different eye-catching and informative features, you should look no further than our own Website at www.achrnews.com.The NEWS'Website has a lot of features beyond just reporting current news and who to contact. Those are key elements of any Website and one that HVAC contractors should have on their own Websites, too. Keep viewers informed and let them know who runs the company.
But we go beyond the basics to include a lot of features at our free Website and the paid area (for NEWS paid subscribers only). Take a moment to browse through our Website and find items like "Dot Comment," "Regional Reports," "Product Gallery," and "Media Kit" information, just to name a few.
We do have some of the best Website tools around, and I don't mind if you copycat us. You know they say copying is the best form of flattery.
John R. Hall, Business Management Editor, 734-464-1970, 248-786-1390 (fax), firstname.lastname@example.org
Publication date: 04/10/2006