Guide to Designing an Architect Website
Learn how to design an architect website that attracts new clients to your business
Website Design for Architects
Just like any major construction project, building the right website for an architect or a building designer inevitably comes down to a bunch of moving parts and components put together perfectly on top of a rock solid foundation.
Any misstep, any mistake, and any oversight during the process of designing an architect website can cripple the project completely – even if it isn’t obvious from the outside looking in.
But that’s why we’ve put together this quick guide.
Below we highlight the core elements that architects and building designers will need to consider before they move forward with a website project. These are the details that need to be focused on, the design elements that really need to be hammered out, and the key pieces of your “web design blueprint” that have to be poured in concrete before you can move forward.
Let’s get started!
3 Key Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before You Start Designing Your Architect Website!
Who Are You?
How did you get into architecture? What lead you to start this business? Why do you exist in the first place? What are the principles that you use to guide the way that your business is operated? Before you decide to re-design your website, you need to be clear on what your business strategy is…if you don’t know how or why you’re doing things, how are your customers going to figure it out?
How Do You Help Your Clients?
What is it that your firm actually does for clients when they sign up to work with you? Most people that hire an architect and doing so for the first and most likely last time. You need to educate them on the tasks you complete for them. Yes you do the drawings and 3D-modelling, but do you obtain building approvals from councils? Do you help with the process to hire a builder? Are you hands-on managing the builder during construction?
What Should People Buy From You?
What is ‘special’ about your firm that potential clients should know? Do you have rockstar designers that have been featured in magazines or won design awards perhaps? Is your design process slightly different which allows you to achieve better results? Do you have systems in place to ensure great client communications? Make sure you’re clear about what makes your firm better to help convince client to buy from you!!
The Value of a Well-Designed Architect Website
In today’s ultra competitive business environment, the cold hard truth the matter is your website is very often the ONLY piece of contact your prospects will have with your architecture firm – especially during the decision-making part of the process.
A quality and well-designed architect website is going to provide important information about the firm, to be sure, but it should also subtly but effectively persuade potential prospects to reach out for more information as well as predispose them to work with your architects as opposed to your competitors (all of which are always just a couple of mouse clicks away).
Unfortunately, far too many web designers build architect websites as little more than “digital business cards” or fancy portfolios.
They don’t really understand the business value a properly designed architect website brings to the table, how it can help secure new projects and contracts moving forward, and how it basically operates as your online headquarters – a big part of your credibility, authority, and influence in the industry.
Outlining Your Website Goals and Your Perfect Prospect
Before any ground is broken on your new architect website it’s important that you understand the lay of the land and have concrete blueprints that you and your web designers/developers can work off of.
Just as you wouldn’t dream of tackling a construction project without knowing EXACTLY where everything goes, how everything fits together, and the step-by-step process necessary to completing the project successfully you can’t go into building a website for your architectural firm with the equivalent of scribbles on the back of a napkin.
Instead, you really need to determine:
- How you hope to use your website in the future as far as business purposes are concerned
- What you want your visitors to learn first and foremost when they visit your site
- The actions you want them to take after they have arrived at your site
- The functionality you’ll need to provide to support these goals
… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
But before you can tackle any of those issues you’ll first need to figure out who your ideal prospect is, who your perfect architectural client is, and who you really want to do business with most moving forward.
This perfect prospect – your client avatar – should inform every single decision you make when it comes to your architectural website (as well as every other aspect of your marketing efforts) from here on out.
Separating Yourself From Your Competition
As we alluded to a moment ago, the internet has made it really easy for clients to find architectural firms they might like to do business with – and that’s created a lot of competition in the marketplace, particularly since these competitors are always just a couple of mouse clicks or keyboard strokes away.
This is why you absolutely MUST come up with your own individual Architect Value Proposition Statement, a simple and easy to convey statement that tells your ideal prospect that your firm (and your firm alone) is the right organisation to help them make their project dreams come true.
You’ll want to be sure that this statement separates you from the competition, is carefully crafted around what your ideal prospect is looking for most, and helps you niche down so that you gain immediate influence and authority necessary to create more clients.
Common Mistakes and Missteps Made on Architect Websites
One of the biggest mistakes made with architectural websites in particular (since they are so visual heavy and media rich) is that they aren’t optimised for lightning fast load times.
This is usually a problem because designers and developers of websites choose cheap, offshore web hosting not located in Australia to act as the foundation of the rest of the website is built on top of.
Obviously, that’s going to negatively impact the experience that your potential clients have on your site. Research shows that if a website doesn’t load within two seconds (two seconds!) most visitors are simply going to click away never to return again.
Another major mistake is including large graphical images, video files, or other multimedia elements that are not properly compressed to maintain visual clarity while at the same time speeding up the actual loading process.
The right designer and developer understands exactly how to squeeze as much horsepower out of your web hosting as possible, compressing the images and multimedia that you’ll want to use to share past projects with your clients in a way that delivers them quickly without compromising quality.
Old and outdated flash style websites that will not render in modern web browsers (particularly mobile web browsers) is a major faux pas that some designers and developers of architectural websites continue to make time and time again.
On top of that, any modern website built today needs to be 100% mobile friendly and mobile responsive right out of the box – particularly as so much of our online traffic moves off of laptops and desktops and onto smart phones and tablets.
Lastly, you’ll need to make sure that you clearly explain what you do, how to contact you, and provide a crystal-clear Call to Action (CTA) that gets your visitors to take the next step towards working with you.
There absolutely MUST be some aspect of your website designed to capture contact information (ideally email information). This gives you an opportunity to be much more proactive with your marketing messages, reaching out as often as you like to potential prospects rather than having to sit on your heels and wait for them to contact you.
At the end of the day, it’s not a bad idea to work with a web design and development agency (like us) that understands EXACTLY how to create perfect architectural and building design websites (custom from scratch).
These kinds of agencies recognise the unique hurdles that have to be cleared in this industry, recognise how to pull all of the disparate parts together to make these projects work, and can help you create a real business asset that brings in more clients rather than sits out on the web like a digital business card.