My Role: Design

Conversion-Optimized Retro Website for Michigan HVAC Company

Project Goals

The client’s current site didn’t reflect their new trucks and it felt outdated. They wanted a design to match their honest, old-fashioned, small town values. Primarily, the site’s purpose was lead generation, and there were two ways to get a lead: a form submission or a phone-call. The audience was homeowners and B2B customers.

My design goals:


The only asset was an image of a brand new truck wrap. Because of a mishap with a prior agency, they didn’t even have a logo file. This was unnerving because usually I’m greeted with 10-100 image assets.  Fortunately, we soon realized the truck was chock full of design elements, which became the foundation of the design.

I had a short deadline to produce the design. Our team has recently harnessed Jared Spool’s mantra, “Design is a team sport,” into the design process. The Content team added in a flavor of retro words, and the Dev team matched animations to the feel of the site.

Process and Strategy

Style Guide

First, I set the high-level strategy and add in specific client preferences. Having a clear vision and strong, existing retro brand theme helped me settle on a plan of action for the design.

Next, I found fonts and colors that fit the bill. I researched and brainstormed ways to visualize “small town values” and old-fashioned.” I scrutinized the competition’s answer for a mid-century look and feel. After creating a messy moodboard, sunbursts, textures, and shapes fell into place.

Design Time

I tend to start on the header, then bounce to whatever section calls the loudest, unifying them later. I used bold branding everywhere to help people feel that it’s not a generic site. It’s authentic to the truck locals may see driving around town.

Brainstorming retro solutions

Alternative hero image

How many sunbursts are too many?

Off to the Client

I presented the homepage and subpage designs for critique to the Design Team. With a great suggestions, like making the truck stand out by changing the hero sunburst to teal not red, it was off to the client! Round 2 had tiny changes and the design moved on to be developed.


Because this was a new client, we didn’t have the benefit of previous site analytics. At the writing time of this it has been 8 months since launch and the conversion rate is above our average.

What did I learn?

The biggest takeaway from this project was a new understanding of the value of a brand. Sure, I only had one visual reference to design an entire site with, but I knew the story the client wanted to tell. The client wanted to take people back to a time when business was more personal. When the shop-keep knew you were good for it when money was tight. The story was more vital than the logo file.

To see more designs for contractors, check out this gallery of design snippets or an overview of my work at iMarket.

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