12 Horrible Mistakes To Avoid When You Finally Get A Website For Your Architecture Firm
When you're an architect, it's hard to know where to begin when it comes to designing your own website. You might be tempted to use one of the many free templates available online, but these aren't always the best choice for someone in your field. A better option is to hire a professional web designer who can create a site that looks great and meets your needs as an architect.
However, even if you have a professional design your site, there are still some things that you need to avoid if you want your website to stand out from the crowd.
Here are 12 mistakes that architects make when designing their own sites:
1. Not defining target audience before building a website
The first step to building a website for your architecture firm is defining your target audience.
You may be thinking, “Who cares? It's just a website.” The truth is that if you don't have a clear idea of who you're trying to reach with your website, you're setting yourself up for failure.
A few years ago, I created a website for an architecture firm that didn't have any idea who would be visiting their website. They had no target audience in mind, and they hadn't even begun to think about the purpose of the site.
They simply wanted me to create a website for them, so I did what all good designers do: I created one!
After it was complete, I asked them how they were going to market it and what they hoped people would do once they got there. They had no idea!
The first step in building a website is to define your target audience.
Why? Because it will help you choose what type of website to build and what features it should have. A website for architects is different from a website for dentists, for example.
If you don't know who your customers are, how can you design a website that will appeal to them?
So, how do you define your target audience?
Think about who your ideal customer is. Write down their age, education level, income bracket and other characteristics (like job title or industry).
Do they live in the city or suburbs?
Are they male or female?
Do they have kids?
What types of plans do they want for their home project?
Is there anything else about them that might influence what kind of website they want? For example, if they're wealthy, maybe they'd like a flashy design with lots of bells and whistles — but if they're middle class and have less money to spend on renovations, maybe they'd like something more simple.
After you do this, you need to go a step further and map your customer's buying journey. This allows you to walk in your customer's, to feel, see, and think like them. To do that, follow this step-by-step guide.
2. Writing content after the website is finished
Your website is not a brochure. It's not a static piece of information that you can simply post online and expect people to find you. Your website needs to be built with an audience in mind, and it needs to be updated regularly.
You should never start writing content until after your website is finished and all of its pages are up and running. A good rule of thumb is that if you're not thinking about what customers would want to see on a particular page, then don't write anything at all.
You can always come back later and add more content if it makes sense to do so based on user behavior or feedback from potential clients.
3. Not having a website marketing strategy
With the rise of social media and how easy it is to build a website, many firms have jumped on the bandwagon without considering if there's a strategy behind it. In fact, some firms still think that by having a website they're doing their job.
But having a website isn't enough. You need to build a strong online presence with the right strategy in order to attract clients and grow your business.
It's tempting to just launch your website and hope for the best, but that won't work. You need to put together a plan for how people will find out about your new site and what they'll do once they get there. How are you going to convert visitors into leads. How will your nature the leads and eventually make a sale.
While that might sound like extra work, it's actually a good idea because it will ensure that your new site doesn't just fall off the face of the internet after only a few weeks or months.
If you're going to invest time and money in building a website for your architecture firm, make sure that it's part of an overall marketing plan as opposed to an isolated effort. Without that strategic plan in place, it'll be difficult to measure success or ROI (return on investment).
Launching a website without putting together a concrete plan for how people will find out about it is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. After all, it's not enough to just launch the site and then hope for the best. Constructing a clear plan of action outlining what you'll do when you launch and how you're going to attract visitors will go a long way toward ensuring that your website isn't just out there by itself.
4. Not tracking your traffic
You need to know how many visitors come to your site and what they do once they get there. You also want to be able to see how long visitors stay on each page so that you can optimize for better conversions. This is why not tracking your traffic is such a mistake!
You'll never know what works and what doesn't unless you track where people are coming from and where they're going. A web analytics tool like Google Analytics will give you this information.
5. Not using analytics software
This is the number one mistake I see with websites. There are so many great tools out there that can tell you what people are doing on your website and how they find you. It's important to know which pages people are visiting, where they're coming from, and what they're looking at.
You don't have to be a data scientist to know that you need to know how people are using your website. Analytics software can help you identify where people are coming from, what they're looking at, and how they're interacting with your website. You can then use this information to make improvements to your site so that it drives more traffic and leads.
6. Not understanding visitors' behavior
If you don't know who visits your site — or what they want when they get there — how can you expect them to convert into paying clients? Before you start building out any pages or sections of your site, make sure you have a clear idea of who your target audience is and what they're looking for when they arrive at your site
7. Focusing on SEO (search engine optimization) at the expense of usability
Many people mistakenly believe that having a high ranking on Google is more important than making sure their site is easy for visitors to navigate. If you don't have a clear hierarchy of information on your site, it will confuse visitors, and they'll leave without finding what they're looking for — which is bad for both search engines and users alike.
8. Ignoring customer feedback or complaints
It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day operations of running an architecture firm. You have deadlines to meet, projects to complete and clients to please. It's also easy to ignore customer feedback and complaints when they come in because they aren't urgent, and they take time out of your day. But ignoring them will only hurt your business in the long run because customers who feel ignored will leave sooner than those who feel listened to and cared for.
When someone has a problem with your business, they aren’t going to just disappear. They will tell their friends about it, ask for refunds and leave bad reviews online. You need to address these issues head-on and resolve them quickly so that your customers will come back again in the future.
10. Not having a contact form on your site so that visitors can contact you directly
If people want more information about your firm or want to schedule an appointment with you, they need an easy way to reach out — and email isn't always ideal. Having a contact form on your site ensures that all inquiries can be handled efficiently without requiring users to send emails back and forth through social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter.
11. Not updating your site with fresh content frequently enough (if at all)
According to online marketing expert Neil Patel, "if your content is outdated, Google won't rank your site well." That means an outdated website might not even show up in search results at all!
A great way to keep your website with fresh content is to blog regularly. A blog is an important tool for keeping customers engaged and interested in what's going on with their favorite brands. It also helps drive traffic back to the home page of your site by featuring links to other pages on the site itself — which should help increase overall conversion rates as well!
12. Using stock photos instead of original photography
Stock photos are fine if you're just starting out or if you don't have much money to spend on your site. But if you're going to spend any time or money at all on creating your site, then make sure everything looks original from top to bottom.
If there's one thing that makes people look at a website less than anything else, it's seeing stock photos used in place of real photography. The biggest offenders are those "professional" smiling headshots that people use for LinkedIn profiles, which I see all over the web in architecture firms' websites and other places where they should know better.
Although you may feel overwhelmed with all the options around, don't. Focus on who your audience is and what you want them to do, which will guide the design and development of your site. Each firm will likely find its own needs slightly different, but hopefully this helps you get started in building a better architecture website for your practice.
Also make sure to check our complete Web Design For Architects Guide