Five quick website improvement tips for AEC firms

Ben Garfinkel – No Comments

We spend a lot of time visiting architecture and engineering websites to stay up to date with all the latest industry news. It’s a great way to see new innovation and technology, especially when websites have unique designs and are easy to navigate. However, websites that are not intuitive or well-designed can have an impact on more than just user experience—and reflect poorly on the brand.

Architects have reputations for good design sense. Their firm website should reflect this. A website can be one of the most important marketing tools available. It might be the first thing a potential client or employee sees. While there may not be budget or time available immediately for a website overhaul, there are a few short term fixes and website improvements that can help you maximize this marketing tool.

Here are five ways to spruce up your website and make sure it works harder to help you achieve your marketing goals.

1. Photos and Video

You can write a compelling project description, but if you use grainy low resolution photos, you will lose people’s attention. If the photography on your site is not up to par, redoing them professionally is one effective way to improve your site, and engaging potential clients. Video is still under utilized in the AEC sector. It is more involved to create, and expensive, but can bring projects to life in ways still photos can not. Video is very effective in highlighting key projects and features. For architects it can help show end users in the environment and for engineers, video can showcase otherwise hidden aspects of a project.

Whether you produce elegant videos or not, a terrific new feature offered by Google is Business Inside View. This feature is similar to Google’s Street View, but indoors. You simply dispatch a Google authorized photographer to the space, they document the space and it becomes an easy to navigate tour of the interior. This is a terrific and relatively simple new way to show off the inside of buildings. Here’s an example.

2. Digital Content

Websites should have valued content for visitors  but also provide information about those people visiting your site. A great way to acquire prospect information is to add an area where visitors can download content such as reports, white papers, or case studies. Gate your content by requiring an email address and name prior to download. This is an easier way for prospects to interact with you if they are hesitant or not prepared to speak with you directly. Once you get a prospect’s email address, put it into your database and send a follow up email.

3. Testimonials

If prospects see that others are happy with your work, they will feel more confident about doing business with you. Testimonials are a great way to help build trust and establish credibility, and are even more powerful when done as videos. It is more engaging and can give greater insight into the experience of working together (just remember to keep it brief). Make a habit of collecting written and video testimonials from clients at the end of your projects together. Remember, attracting top talent is also something that can be aided with videos of current staff and staff-related activities.

4. Meta tags  

This sounds like a big deal, but it isn’t. All that’s required is to edit your existing posts and pages to ensure they are labeled correctly and learn how to apply tags. It doesn’t take much time, but it makes a big difference for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) results.

5. Ask

Lastly, get some free advice from the people who matter the most—your clients and prospects. They are the end users, and ultimately who you need to speak to. Find out what they like, what they don’t like, and what they want to see. This doesn’t take long and will likely provide some key insights. You don’t have to implement it all right away of course. Some of the suggestions may be easy to do now such as creating an easier-to-navigate Contact page, while others may be worthy enough to make it to the top of the list for your next revision or redesign.

These five quick and dirty tips are easy to implement and are sure to improve not just the user experience of your website, but also its effectiveness as the marketing tool it should be.