For an architecture firm, there are few tools more important for your brand than your website. As the home of your company on the internet, it’s the portfolio of your past projects, a visual statement of your design philosophy, and a showcase of your awards and certifications. As most architects work on a deeply personal, face-to-face basis, often your website stands as a formal introduction to your work for those who are looking for options in their newest construction projects.
The difference between a professionally developed website can be the tipping point between impressing a client and gaining a crucial lead, or losing out to a competitor. That’s why so many architects dedicate resources to maintaining an excellent and constantly updated web presence.
Know your website’s goals
What is the primary purpose of your website? If you’re a typical architect or architecture firm, you’ll likely place a huge emphasis on the branding quality of your site. You want your clients, colleagues, and peers to be able to see your past portfolio of work, get a feel for your company’s design philosophy, and have an excellent experience with usability and organization.
Gather your professional photography to be displayed
One of the most important features of an architecture firm’s website is images. Since architecture is such a visual, design-focused discipline, it’s essential that your website showcases your work in the most striking way possible. You want a large, clean, simple format that displays your firm’s work first and foremost. Ensure that you have a wide variety of professional images collected for your developer to use, since a good image is worth a thousand words!
Make sure your new website is responsive
Does your site work on mobile devices? Make sure that your developer is well-schooled in mobile development and knows how to effectively design a website that is responsive, and adjusts size according to the device of the user. For an architect, you’ll likely have a wide variety of images. A good developer will understand the importance of your photography, and showcase these well in your website’s theme…even on a mobile device!
Know what SEO steps your developer is taking
Paying attention to SEO (search engine optimization) is an extremely important part of developing a new website. You want your website to be easily discoverable from search engine results pages in Google and Bing, so it’s very crucial that your developer pays attention to this and knows how to implement SEO best practices while developing your new site. Make sure that your WordPress developer uses plugins such as Yoast in order to optimize your pages, and knows how to effectively structure your metadata.
Do you need a website or a web app?
Consider whether you need just a simple portfolio-based website (which just displays what services your company provides and what work you’ve done in the past) or whether you need a full-fledged web app developed. If you need advanced functionality, a web app might be what you’re looking for: developing a backend login for your clients, or a document approval process, or other interactivity. Otherwise, you might just need a new WordPress website which allows you to log in, update the blog, make changes to your website, and upload images to your project gallery.
Establish your architecture website’s development budget
Before you hire your developer, it’s always good to have a solid idea of how much your website will cost and how much your firm is willing to pay for it. Since the website is your public-facing portal to the internet, it’s worth making sure that you have the absolutely best developed site as possible. Sit down and calculate the net value of a potential client. Will having an amazing website help convert them into a customer? If the answer is yes – and it will! – then it is definitely worth dedicating a decent budget and a lot of energy into.
Understand the difference between a designer and a developer
Much like the difference between an architect and an engineer, a website designer focuses on the usability, design, and appearance of the site, whereas a web developer focuses on the functionality and implementation of practical aspects. Both go hand in hand, and it’s important to look for a firm that can offer both the user-facing design aspects of the site, and also have the ability to develop powerful backend functionality to make sure the site runs as effectively as possible.
As a professional, your website is one of the most important parts of your internet presence. In a world where more and more sales and important networking contacts are made online, it’s as crucial a part of your architecture firm’s brand as the lobby in your physical office. Ensure that your site is an accurate reflection of your design philosophy and company brand!