Web Excellence

Simple, Organized, Professional
Adaptive Driving Access’ crisp, inviting site combines efficient design with excellent use of white space and intuitive navigation. From the moment the page loads, it’s clear from both the graphics and the copy what this dealer is all about — wheelchair-adapted vans and lifts. The navigation tool features drop-down menu items, which lets you skip an intermediary page between the site’s top level and the content you want. There is more copy here than on many sites, but it’s well written and formatted for easy online reading. Overall, an effective, well-organized and professional Web presence.

Hometown Feeling and In-Depth Content
You can just tell that the people at Monroe Wheelchair are knowledgeable, friendly people who really want to help. That’s the feeling you get after just moments on the site. It’s not Hollywood slick: They use snapshots of the business, not a virtual tour. And it works. We see what the store looks like and the faces of the real people who work there. The navigation is straightforward. There are a couple of especially nice touches here, and Monroe might do well to make them more visible. One is a set of audio testimonials by clients. We see still images of the clients and hear them talk about their experience with Monroe. On the same page is a professionally produced video overview of Monroe’s wheelchair offerings; the short film imparts a positive, energetic, and hopeful feel to the entire site.

Live in Seattle? Buy a Van in Atlanta!
Amsvans is all about wheelchair-accessible vans. They’re so excited to tell you about it that the home page is a little intimidating at first because of all the copy and links. But after a few moments, it’s clear what’s going on: Amsvans will sell you a van, convert vans, and even install adaptive equipment “at your front door,” regardless of where you live in the United States. The site is part clearinghouse for new and used vans and part digital sales pitch for their conversions. Based in Atlanta, Amsvans offers an online delivery price schedule so customers can easily see how much delivery will set them back. The site puts a featured vehicle front and center on the home page and provides easy links to current inventory and online resources for people needing more information about a wide range of disability and mobility-related subjects.

Low-Key Information Access
While not exclusively devoted to mobility, Economy Medical emphasizes mobility-related offerings on its home page, and its product mix is heavily weighted toward mobility. With its combination of pleasing blue-against-yellow navigation frame and a mixture of product graphics in the home page’s main screen, Economy Medical has an easy-to-visit, easy-to-navigate Web space. Moving around the site is effortless with links provided on a horizontal tab line at the top, as well as links in the left-side frame. The site offers visitors opportunities on almost every page to request company or product information, or to ask that a salesperson get in touch. This isn’t an elaborate site, but its simplicity is calming, a rare quality in anything concerned with health care.

Caring About Clients: It’s in the Details
This is the Web site of a hometown Massachusetts mobility dealer — you can just feel it. Mobility Solutions’ design is sincere and earnest down to the animated .gif of a waving American flag. Based in Norwood, Mass., the dealer launches its welcoming sensibility on the homepage with an enthusiastic, “Let us be your online resource for your adaptation needs!” No beating about the bush here: Contact information and product offerings are front and center along with an easy-to-read, large-type horizontal bar of links to the site’s five major sections. An especially nice touch that demonstrates Mobility Solutions’ sensitivity to its target market is a link to an external site that gives users customized driving directions to the store; all they have to do is enter their address. There is also is a link to various automakers’ financial assistance programs for people purchasing adaptive vehicles. None of these features is fancy, but taken together, they signal genuine care for clients.

You’ve Got to Love the Scooter!
It’s all here in this well-designed site: navigation, graphics, solid design. But the best feature may be the little scooter that constantly traverses the top of each page, continuously crossing and calling attention to the Access2Mobility logo. Any more animation than this would be distracting; but this is just the right touch. A little levity, a hint of fun — it can only help. The homepage graphic layout is compelling and efficient — it uses an oval-shaped space to organize images and labels that define product categories. It feels tidy and avoids the sense of information overload you get with some sites. Inside, the site uses product thumbnails, which could actually be a little larger, to link to detailed product information and specifications.

Online Professionalism and Compassion
It may be the longest original name of an American mobility provider: Central Pennsylvania Electric Mobility Repair Service. That’s the moniker under which today’s Keystone Mobility started life in 1990.

The company’s site is remarkably professional, well designed, understated and well organized. One of the first things you notice on the home page is the sentence, in a bold font, “We build friendships.” This is followed by, “We may not know what you’re going through, but our purpose is focused on helping you get through it.” These lines set the site’s tone: professional and compassionate. This is what CEO Andrew Sterling said he was aiming for. “The site we had up before was too static,” he said. “I just didn’t have time to work on it. So, when we contracted to have the site redone, I wanted something more professional, more corporate, but not cold. I wanted people to sense that we’re decent people.”

There are three ways to navigate the site from the home page: by categories with links embedded in attractive graphics (products, health care professionals, parts, and insurance); a vertical, left-side stack of links; and a horizontal bar of links that is mostly duplicated by links lying horizontally across the top of the page. You’ll be taken to a beautifully laid out page if you click on the category Shopping by Products, from which you can navigate to the items you want to check out.

Links to mobility-related products are integrated with other durable medical equipment, but they’re easy to spot. The page’s main screen features numerous photographs of people using mobility and non-mobility-related products or devices. Photos are accompanied by copy that reinforces the themes of professionalism and compassion, but neither the photos nor copy relate directly to the left-side links, as this is simply a jumping-off page. Click on the links, though, and pages of products and information about them quickly load. Following a link for a product takes you to a large product image (you can zoom in and out), as well as in-depth information about the device.

50 Years in Business, and Less Is Still More
MAC’S Lift Gate is in its 50th year, and the Long Beach, Calif., company uses an enormous home-page graphic to announce that anniversary. Then, in characteristically straightforward style, things get down to business with a brief message from the company’s president, and, then, that’s it — nothing else to do but explore the left-side-frame links. It’s refreshing. You don’t get the sense that you’re missing something because you didn’t follow every last one of a page’s excessive number of text-embedded links. You can just relax and focus on the products and information. You do that by choosing one of the left-frame category links that takes you to a topic page from which you can go directly to specific products and their specifications. Elegant and simple.

“Your One-Stop Mobility Center”
“We’re glad you’re here! Welcome home.” It’s not a greeting you receive at many mobility sites, but these enthusiastic people really seem to mean it. Better Life Mobility wants to be customers’ “one-stop mobility center.” It’s easy to see why they can make such an invitation — the lengthy column of left-frame links makes it clear this company does it all, from vehicles to lifts, ramps, chairs and scooters. And more. While many sites are content to provide a laundry list of links for you to click your way through to what you really want, Better Life takes a different approach. The long link list is there, but the site simplifies things by bundling the links into three categories at the very top of the page. So, if customers know exactly what they want, they can use a fine-grained left-side link; but, if they want to browse a category, they can jump straight to Accessible Vehicles, Wheelchairs & Scooters or Lifts & Carriers. The site’s interior is full of well-presented, substantial product information.

Up the Down Staircase
Specializing in elevators and non-vehicular lifts, Mobility Elevator makes outstanding use of photographs to showcase its products, inspire confidence in its professionalism and competence and tell the real stories of actual customers whose lives were improved by its work. On the home page, the site bundles disparate links into the three categories of Stair Lifts, Wheelchair Lifts and elevators, plus there are immediately visible links to a video demonstration and a guide for planning a home elevator. There’s even a guide to help architects design an elevator or lift right into a new home. The Photo Gallery features a lot of candid images of actual clients using products from Mobility Elevator. There are 26 images taken from various angles in the showroom that help confirm Mobility Elevator’s professionalism and knowledge.

Build It and They Will Come
This is a beautifully designed, substantive and user-friendly site by a supplier of adaptive vehicles and lifts. Custom Mobility’s home page is a deep blue set inside a dark-blue frame, and the text is mostly reverse-out white. The designers give us product images that continuously — but not annoyingly — fade in and out in the right-side frame, as well as three ways to navigate the site’s interior: three link-bundling categories, a conventional set of text links laid horizontally across the bottom, and three quick links on the left side of the main middle frame. Click on any of these, and the new page builds as you watch. It’s not dissimilar to a PowerPoint build, but better. The technique gives a sense of the pieces falling into place and doesn’t come across as a slick, gee-whiz-wow kind of thing. It’s also a relief not to be blasted with a screen of dense text. Here, once you click on a link, many of the main fields start out blank, then a brief paragraph appears, followed quickly by the balance of the page. It conveys a sense that the material is digestible and accessible, a gentle wave rather than a white-capped breaker.

Red, White, Blue and Mobility
This Green Bay, Wis., dealer’s site demonstrates just how far sincerity and diligence can take DME suppliers if they want to establish an online foothold. GT Mobility specializes in vans, lifts and scooters, and its red, white and blue site is not slickly produced. But that’s not the point. What’s important is that it works. And it works well.

“I’m a pretty plain-Jane Web person,” said GT Mobility’s Deb Lohman. “I don’t do Flash and all this fancy stuff that’s out there now.” Lohman said her customers don’t care about design. “The most important thing is to just be out there in the search engines,” she said. Several customers a week tell Lohman they found her business on the Web. “The site helps people make better, more informed decisions,” she said. “Our site tells people that we offer many more brands than our nearest competitor, and that’s to our advantage.”
The  practical home page features images and information about new vans. A list of links hung along the left side also gets you to vans, but also to a range of other mobility aids, including vehicle controls, lifts, accessories, and scooters. The site’s links to disability- and mobility-related resources is surprisingly strong. So, overall, GT Mobility is doing what all HME suppliers must do: Establish a Web presence without worrying too much about whether it’s perfect or filled with bells and whistles.

Finally, Accessible Horse Carriages!
You know Affordable Mobility’s offerings are extensive when, among the expected porch lifts and access ramps, you find a link to a wheelchair-accessible horse carriage. It’s backed up by a huge image of said carriage being pulled by a horse that for all the world appears to be smiling. On the home page, the company proclaims that it wants to “be the best home and auto mobility dealer in the country,” and its site is filled with examples of it trying to do that.

Affordable’s president, Mark Laflamme, said he hears from people all the time about the site. “Everyone mentions it,” he said. Retired from electrical contracting and a spinal cord injury patient himself, Laflamme said he’s as interested now in making his site a resource about affordable mobility as he is in leveraging it for business growth.

A horizontal banner image crawl, which shows various Affordable projects and products, is sandwiched by horizontal bars containing links to the site’s interior. Surprises here include a photographic portfolio of Affordable’s projects, from home modifications and elevator installations to CAD drawings that detail specifications for things like stair lifts and ramp construction. But even these links don’t cover all the site’s contents. Click on the wheelchair graphic on the home page, and you’re off to an extensive index of everything the company does, from air-bag modification to lifts that will put their clients and wheelchairs behind the wheel of a tractor-trailer rig. The link from the home page to the index isn’t obvious, and Affordable may do well to explicitly label it. This is an outstanding site with exhaustive content and plenty of evidence about the company’s track record, experience and expert knowledge.

This article originally appeared in the September 2007 issue of Mobility Management.

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