Building an architectural website is a bit more complex than you might think. The design should reflect the company and it's work, the content should be tailored for a very specific niche of visitors, etc. So how do you build a website designed to showcase your work? Does the focus lie more with your work and your capabilities or with the visitor and how you can help them with their project?
“Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.”
– Charles Eames
Planning and building a website strategy is the most important part of any web project. It helps you set an anchor so you never float to far away from who you're building the site for, why your building the site, and what you hope to achieve with the site.
It's easy to get lost in the design of a site and start making changes that might actually turn off your target audience or work against your original goals.
What are you aiming for?
When creating goals for a website design or redesign, I think there are a few general best practices to keep in mind first. Obviously you want a site that's fast, secure, and has a clear call to action. But let's go deeper.
Ask yourself, "why am I building this website?" Knowing why you are building or redesigning your website will shed some light on the goals you have.
Depending on your business, your goal might be to just attract a bunch of visitors to admire your work but not make any real interaction with you. Or maybe you'd rather attract more quality traffic that will likely contact you for a project.
So is your goal to hit 5,000 unique monthly visitors or get 10 new sales qualified leads a month? This will effect the types of content you include, the personas you build the site for, etc.
Who will come to your site?
When creating your personas for your site, you'll want a detailed description of who they are, what they're coming to your site for, and how they're finding their way to your site. Is it through organic searches, social media, or referrals?
This will shape the basis for your entire inbound strategy, which will include the content you want on your site.
Let's think about the visitors coming to your site, interested in working with you. What would the ideal project be? Think of price, timeline, industry, style, etc. We'll want to plan out several different journeys for these personas. On the flip side, also consider what kinds of projects and leads you think might not be the best fit.
Design is entirely subjective. How do you define what a successful design will look like on your site? Well, you could take a look at the user experience metrics. Things like bounce rate, session duration, and number of return visitors help us understand how users engage with our sites a little more. When they land on a project, landing page, or article, do they stick around to read it? Do they return? If they have returned, did they convert during their last visit?
You'll probably make small changes to the site as you learn more about how your users engage with your site. New ideas will come up, and your design will evolve with it.
I do have a couple of design best practices for your site though.
First, I'd start with a minimalist design. Why? Well, when creating journeys for your visitors, you want to remove as much clutter and as many obstacles as you can. From the point they land on your site to the point they leave, you want them to achieve the goal you laid out for them. Minimalism helps to reduce the noise. If you're interested in some minimalism psychology, check out this article.
For the sake of the user's journey, navigation should be clear and intuitive. Typically, you should have no more than 7 clear items in your heading. 5 is closer to the ideal the number. You want to guide the visitor from the beginning on their journey to the end as seamlessly as possible.
When it comes to creating content for an architectural site, the content will come in many forms. It's the text, the images, the articles, the case studies, it's everything that fills your site. So when it comes to your website, what kinds of content will you want to include?
I suppose the question should actually be, what types of content do your personas want to see? Should the focus be on you or them?
Some ideas could be:
- Case studies - provide ways of showing visitors what your design and execution process look like
- News releases - unveil your finished creations to the community
- Images - you could share professional photos of finished work across social channels
- Infographics - industry statistics, etc.
- Blog posts - talk about ideas, problems, and solutions in the industry
There are a couple of goals with these types of content. You want your visitors to recognize that you're a leader in the industry and you want them to engage with you, but more importantly you want to educate and help them.
Want to know more about creating a redesign strategy? Click below.