We live in a world where virtually everyone has instant access to the World Wide Web through a computer, phone, or even a smart watch. Due to this increase in access over the last decade, the need for an amazing website is no longer a luxury—it is a necessity.
So what makes a website “amazing”? What makes a website stand out in this era where every business, every person and every concept has its own web presence? Well, it is all about user experience (a new phrase known as ‘UX’ in the media world) and how easy it is for users to navigate through your site to find what they are looking for (or what will catch their attention). With that said, let’s first talk about the actual template design: the overall structure and “theme” of the website.
Years ago, everyone got excited about flashy imagery and animated or catchy pop-ups. The more information that was presented in a visually stunning way sent your eyes in a million directions to every concept you could fit in to one space.
However, the expectation of customers has changed over the years and the design trends of 2016 are much more simplified and direct. According to www.awwwards.com*, Simplified, flat designs are the current popular trend in web structure because they are simple to see visually and easy to navigate. Large, clean imagery with bold text and buttons and organized sections throughout the site make it easy to focus your eye, as well as giving the site a complete look from top to bottom.
With simplicity in the structure, there also needs to be simplicity in the actual navigation. Customers are coming to your site for a service. They aren’t just browsing the Internet to see what’s new (especially in the HVAC, plumbing and electrical industries) and to read up on different equipment specs. They are looking on your site to see if you have what fits their need. Having direct buttons or links to help them focus on what they are looking for is crucial to your website performance. A great way to portray that is to have your service buttons or links in an obvious location, such as on the first fold of your website, readily visible without scrolling when a visitor lands on your homepage.
Here is an example of an older webpage designed years ago vs. one of our current favorites—an updated template layout with a very clean, themed, graphically appealing design:
(View the screenshot examples below)
Most people are coming to your site for one thing: they need a repair and are looking to hire a contractor to do the job. So, with that knowledge, when a customer comes to your website, there are a few things they are looking for, whether specifically or subconsciously:
(Click on the image to enlarge and see full page view)
Visit Liberty’s current website by clicking here to see how it looks live
- “Does the site look like the company is professional enough for me to trust?”
- A professional looking site is simple to portray with clean graphics and a sense of ownership. Pictures of the owner, your team, truck images and/or building images show that you are local it helps build a sense of trustworthiness. Including a good, professional photo of the owner’s family is a lot more powerful than using only stock photos. Potential customers love to connect with real people.
- “Does the site have easy navigation for me to get to what I need?”
- Is there a schedule service button that is visible and obvious?
- Is your phone number one of the first things you see?
- If I am looking for a specific, specialized service, is there a button or link that guides me right to it?
- “Is the site relatable?”
- Does the website focus on me, as the customer, or does it focus on the industry?
Contractors have a tendency to want to focus on the products or services they are pushing. However, that approach can be lost on the everyday person. In order to attract visitors to specific products and services and allow the customer to have a good experience on your site, you need to make your site relatable.
Sell the destination, not the plane. Tell your customers why they need a product or service. Instead of a banner that has a picture of an air conditioner unit and a manufacturer logo that reads “New product Unit style XXX in stock now”, portray a picture of a comfortable family in a living room that says “Keep your family comfortable all summer – install a new air conditioner today”.
The focus is still on the product and service, but it makes it relatable to the customer. After all, the reason they are likely on the website is because their air conditioner is broken and it needs fixing so they can stay comfortable in their home. The customer connects better with visuals that relate to their emotions and experience than to a metal piece of equipment. So, taking the time to capture pictures like these is to your advantage.
Personally, I am excited for this new trend of simple, clean, themed designs on websites because it allows us to pull your website together in a way that helps brand you as a company and easily cater to your clientele at the same time. So, if you currently don’t have any personalization on your website, or have found that it is not as easy to navigate as intended, remember to keep these trends in mind when freshening up your website.