5 Important Factors For Your Architecture Firm's Website Design

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5 Website Design Tips for Architects

Does Your Firm's Website Need a Performance Boost? Start Here!

Design Your Architecture Firm Website with These Five Tips in Mind

I've been designing websites since 1997, and in that time, websites have changed quite a bit. With all the changes over the years, it's no surprise that I often find some firm owners don't understand how architecture website design really works. While you might know a bad website when you see one, you might not understand what makes a good site work. This article will change that.

The internet is littered with failed in-house web design projects, and it ain’t pretty.
— Bryon McCartney, Chief Idea Guy & Creative Director, Archmark

I've seen visually beautiful websites that didn't work well, and other sites that lacked appealing visual design but outperformed the better looking sites because they got these important factors right.

Start your architecture firm's website design project by identifying the problems you want your site to solve. This should include the basic requirement of creating an online portfolio that is easy to update (and maintain), and it should include building a site that helps you attract and collect qualified sales leads.

In my experience, the best approach is to workshop your website requirements with your team and a web design professional. You'd be surprised at how your website can help in attracting, nurturing, and converting visitors into bonafide sales opportunities.

I cannot overstate the importance of involving professional help in building your website. The internet is littered with failed in-house web design projects, and it ain't pretty. In fact, a poorly-designed website can hurt business.

Architects seem prone to view websites as another design problem, when that could not be further from the truth. A website that does not help you produce leads is a waste of time and money. A great design that shows off your work is a given, but your website needs to appeal to your ideal client, and it has to provide a solution to their problem.

If you're ready to get started on your website design, follow these five tips to help ensure your website success.

1. Put Mobile First

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We're no longer living in the desktop and laptop era. Mobile browsing has surpassed desktop browsing. In fact, Google now uses mobile-optimized design as a key search engine ranking factor.

It's easier for a browser to scale a small website to a desktop than vice versa. A site viewed on a smartphone or tablet might look squished or require some strange stretching to be viewed correctly.

This makes for a poor user experience, and can result in a higher bounce rate. Think of your users and design for the most commonly used devices.

You also need to ensure your site looks great on different devices. Just because it looks good on an iPhone doesn't mean it'll look good on a Galaxy or an iPad. You can test out your website by using online tools that can emulate the view on different devices.

Remember, digital-first firms need to also be mobile first. Be sure to optimize your site for mobile use.

2. Prioritize Speed

Modern website design must be optimized to load quickly. While you might want large, high-quality images to show off your portfolio of projects, big images take time to load, and that means lost visitors. 

Rather than uploading 10 MB files all throughout your site, first take time to resize and fit images to the widest possible dimension of your text body. Resizing your photos is the easiest way to ensure higher website speed. We recommend having image file sizes at 200 KB or less. One of our favorite apps to use for reducing image size is Squash. Once you have Squash downloaded on your computer, all you have to do is drag and drop your images into the app and it will automatically compress them. Super fast and easy! And, you will still be able to feature images large and full screen.

3. Simplicity

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While you don't need your architecture website design to be a minimalist experiment, you should avoid adding clutter. One of the biggest changes in the last few years is the addition of white space across just about every kind of site.

White space gives your users room to focus on what you're offering them and to make it the center of their attention.

Simple buttons, simple instructions, and simple text can lead the way to deeper diving. Not every user needs everything you have to offer. Your most engaged users will dive deeper.

An engaging website will give visitors clear and easy options to get to know you a little bit, and – when they like what they see – the option to learn more. When the flow of the website is intuitive, your visitors will stay and explore.

4. Design

Just like a building's design has to create a sense of harmony and consistency, your website design must follow suit. However, architects often struggle with the website design process, because they try to translate their three-dimensional architectural style into a two-dimensional world. This is often not the best approach.

Your website's design should be a reflection of your brand, not a reimagining of your body of work. Let your work stand out on it's own, captured in high-quality professional photography. 

If you have not already developed visual branding guidelines for your firm, get that done before diving into a website design. Keep things simple. Do not go over-the-top with crazy font and color combinations, and do not try to adapt someone else's style as your own. 

Here again, a professional website designer should be able to provide site design expertise and branding experience to help translate your brand into a successful architecture website design.

Once you are happy with your website's style, you'll also want to see how you can spread that style across your social media and other online channels. Design consistency at every point your prospects and customers find you will reinforce your position and make it easier to remember your firm.

5. Clear Message

When someone visits your website, it’s important to keep your messaging clear and concise. Within 10 seconds of someone visiting your site, they should know exactly what you do and who you do it for. You want to capture people’s attention, then draw people further into your website:

  • Get their attention. Your home page is where users will first get a glimpse of what kind of company you are, what work you do, and who you do it for. The simplest way to communicate your message is to use captivating images and concise text.

    For example, if your firm specializes in custom designed residential architecture, make that the main message on your home page.
     
  • Draw them in. This is where you can tell your story and what makes your firm different from the others.
     
  • Show and tell. Now is the time to showcase your best work. Portfolios, case studies, and client testimonials are great examples to put on your website. This helps establish credibility and trust.
     
  • Have a call-to-action. Now you've drawn them in, be sure to give them direction for what to do next. A simple ‘Contact us to get started’ is typically the best way to get them to take action, and gives you important information from them so you can stay in touch.

Getting the messaging right on your website will also help create the kind of keyword-rich content that attracts people searching for what you do. For more on how to get the right traffic to your website, check out our article on how to improve SEO for architects.

Modern Website Design Flows Page to Page

As your website design comes together, one of the things you'll notice is when something just seems natural and when it doesn't. A strong, website design strategy will easily move site visitors from page to page with intuitive menus. Include only one call-to-action on each page so you can see what works best. 

Is your website up-to-speed? Go through our quick checklist to find out!

Is your website mobile optimized? Mobile optimized means that the site will reformat itself from desktop, tablet, and smartphone devices.

Yes ❒   No ❒

Do the images on your website load immediately?

Yes ❒   No ❒

Does your website reflect your brand and architectural style?

Yes ❒   No ❒

Are your icons, fonts, and graphics consistent across your digital platforms?

Yes ❒   No ❒

Within 10 seconds of someone visiting your website, is it clear what service you provide and for whom you provide it?

Yes ❒   No ❒

How did you do? If you answered NO to one or more of these questions, you need to update your website.

Let's talk about how we can help you get more out of your website and online marketing. 

Be sure to ask for you FREE website performance analysis!