Architecture Websites // Construction or Destruction?

July 15, 2015
Ken Beasley

Forget Mike Brady and his giant pink powder puff. Architects are cool, smart, sophisticated, and STYLISH… but you’d never know it from visiting most architecture websites.

In recent years, Push10’s worked many architecture firms. Although champions of design and function, the negative trends perpetrated in architecture websites are plentiful. In our experience, many architecture websites tend to fall into one of two categories: Obnoxiously Over-Designed or Extremely Obvious Afterthought.

 


Let’s illuminate these 2 web design faux pas to avoid pitfalls on your site.


 

The Afterthought Website

Architecture firms are not unlike any other business with too many plates spinning in the air. With most of these plates represent actual client projects and a few representing operational necessities, the attention is paid to those first, with the firm’s own marketing being the plate in the back, left to wobble the most.

They feel as long as it doesn’t fall and break, it doesn’t matter how scary it looks. i.e. “Something is better than nothing”. Unfortunately, this is simply not true. A poorly executed site is certainly going to have a negative impact on your business. It’s critical that even a one-page site is polished, professional and has the user in mind.

That moment when you realize you're an afterthought not a priority, architecture website, web designAs mentioned above, an architect is like any other business, and bringing in new clientele is of the utmost importance. This is done through brand awareness, visuals that reflect the company’s skill level and position in the industry and easy access to team members or more information.

It’s not uncommon for a firm that creates stunningly beautiful buildings to have an outdated site with images lacking supporting descriptions, long, verbose paragraphs of text, and no blog for thought-leadership content. So, the look is not doing their high-quality work justice and there’s nothing of value to share with their target audience. With the today’s standard of edge-to-edge photography and relevant story-telling, anything less is being left in the dust.

 

The Over-Designed Website

When architects are quick to put time, energy and money into their web presence —  the result is often misguided and way over the top.

A fair amount of current websites for firms who see themselves as forward-thinking web advocates boast BIGGER than big images, time-lapse video and portfolios with glistening interactive transitions, but they still have not taken the users needs into account.

It’s ESSENTIAL for any client, including architects, that they first uncover the reason for their website, and do not take the approach of doing “because we can.” More does not equal more, and when a firm focuses on their accolades, their logo or the ground-breaking innovation of their site navigation, it’s very possible that they’re losing potential clients who simply don’t have the time or attention span to solve puzzling site maps.

architecture websites, web design basics, web design tips, tips for web design, website designIn the end, both of these categories are failing their audience, just in different ways. Websites are definitely great canvases for fluff about your team, mentioning your marquee client and showing off how you got-it-going-on when it comes to design, but if it ultimately is not leading to more conversions, then it is not doing it’s job and brings more harm than good.

A strategy needs to be put in place before design begins. The strategy should focus on who the audience is, what are they interested in, and how to best answer their questions. Basically, who would be searching for an architect, what are the criteria for selecting an architect and why should they/how can they hire you. After all, most architects are brilliant minds with fascinating things to say. They just need to say it the right way to the right people – with the right website.

 

Strategic Digital Marketing Can Make All the Difference

Here are a few initial tips that can help you get pointed in the right direction:

  •  Research = Knowledge.  Know the landscape. A simple web-search of companies in the same space can help define look and features you find pleasing or annoying.
  • Determine Hierarchy.  Decide what the most important information is and how a user can get to that information quickly and easily.
  • Call To Action.  Provide users a path, and make it easy for them to get in touch.
  • Clean Usability.  Legible text, white space, attractive images, understandable navigation all contribute to a pleasing experience for the user. Cluttered design is a turn-off, plain and simple.
  • Professional Photography.  Images are incredibly important for architect websites. Whether it’s design renderings or photos of completed projects, the image quality needs to mirror the quality level of the firm’s work.
  • Create Content. Relevant content that speaks to your audience generates return visits and cultivates relationships. Relationships leads to business.
  • Make it Mobile.  Accept the fact that people consume content on their phones and tablets. Responsive sites with fast loads are now the standard. Don’t remove yourself from the pack by ignoring this critical trend.

 

So How Can You Avoid These Mistakes?

Bottom line: Keeping the user in mind, is keeping the customer in mind. Since the website is built primarily for your customers, make it informative, responsive, and easy-to-use, bearing a clean design that’s not distracting or overwhelming. In doing so, your website can facilitate long lasting customer relationships, prominence on the web and distinction in the industry.