3 Big Mistakes Architects Make With Their Websites

website-mistakes-for-architects

This is a guest post by Nic Granleese. Nic is an architect and architectural photographer based in Melbourne. His professional photographic career was launched in 2011 and he used social media and websites to quickly become one of Australia’s most followed architectural photographers. He subsequently wrote a free “web book” in 2012 called Websites For Architects which he describes as a “brain dump of what I have learn’t so far about the online world.”

In 2012 I wrote a post on Websites For Architects entitled 6 Mistakes Architects Make With Website Design which covered many of the technical problems architects were making with their websites. Things like esoteric navigation, using Flash, having single URL sites, only having pictures with no substantial text content, and more.

A year on I’ve come to realise that these technical mistakes are just that, technical issues. They’re the micro items that can be important, but only if there is a well considered strategy at play. It’s a bit like knowing how to lay bricks, but not having an architectural plan to follow. With this in mind, this post looks at what I now consider 3 of the biggest mistakes that architects make with their websites.

1. No clear action or goal.

Every website has what I call actions. These are things that visitors do while on your site. A couple examples would be clicking on a link, subscribing to a blog, watching a video, pressing the buy button for a product online, sending an email via the website’s contact form, or calling the phone number listed on the site.

At the end of the day, the success of any websites comes down to the quantity of a desired action it creates. For architects the key action is almost always how many potential clients make contact. It doesn’t really matter how many visitors you have, or how big your blog is, if the level of contact you have is low then your site will fail to make a difference to your life. (I should note that there are other strategies than just getting more contact from potential clients, but more often than not, this is what most architects ultimately want)

The lesson therefore is to set clear goals about what you’re trying to achieve and then optimise your site to do just that. For example, an architect’s most important page is their contact page, and yet it’s often hidden behind so many links. A much better strategy is to bring it out to the front page and encourage people to contact you. A simple message like, “let’s grab a coffee” can have a huge impact.

2. No strategy for traffic flows

Most architects work on the principle that “if you build it, they will come,” but we know this to be largely false when it comes to websites. There are some exceptions, but most websites with no strategy for driving traffic to them wallow with very few visitors, and because of this the website delivers few tangible results. It’s a bit like building a pump, but not connecting any water lines to it.

To solve this problem you therefore need to think about which pipes you’re going to connect to your website, and there are quite a few to choose from. Here’s a couple examples:

  • SEO (search engine optimisation)
  • Paid internet advertising (PPC: Pay per click)
  • Blog subscribers
  • Social media followers
  • Podcast followers
  • Third party blogs and media linking back to your site

The lesson here then is that unless you have some form of traffic flow, you’re site is going to be a pump with no water.

3. Lack of content for the media

My view is that an architects website should be the centre of their architecture. It should be the point source of where media get information about your projects, and also where the media link back to. This last part is important because unless media exposure drives traffic back to your site then all you’re left with is soft brand awareness. People find out about you, but it’s only on your site that they can take action and contact you.

To make your website the centre of your architecture you need to provide the media with content. They need images, text and videos about a project, which they then use to create their own stories. If you don’t provide this content then there is far less chance they will write about your work. The solution therefore is to turn your project pages into a source of content for the media. If you’re looking for info on what type of content to include check out this post on media kits for architects.