After looking at 100’s (maybe 1000’s) of websites in the AEC space, the vast majority of them start to blend together in an undifferentiated pool of sameness. It’s not so much a design problem as it is a strategy problem. If it is not clear what makes your firm different and better and why a potential new client, employee or partner should choose you, then a fancy web design is not going to solve your problem - you need a proper strategy.
The key thing to remember is that your site is NOT built for you - it is built for your ideal visitors.
Ask yourself these 8 basic strategic questions about your site:
- Is your messaging clear, compelling and differentiating?
- Do you have a clear and well articulated purpose for your site - what do you want it to DO!
- Do you know what kind of specific visitors you want to attract and what they are worth to you?
- Do you know what each visitor category is hoping to accomplish on your site (don’t guess - find out for sure)?
- Do you know what specific actions you want each visitor category to take on your site?
- Who in your firm is the SPA (single point of accountability) for your website and how will you know if they are doing a great job?
- How will you measure the effectiveness of your site? Do you know what you want to measure?
- What do you want to be found for? Go ahead and type it into Google and see what shows up.
Building or modifying your site around the 8 questions above is a great place to start, but it doesn’t end there. There are so many useful technologies that should be incorporated into your website strategy. At the very least, your site should have Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools and Google Adwords
activated and properly configured. These are essential for reporting and analyzing your traffic and determining what’s working and what’s not and to continually improve your site content and structure. A surprising number of websites in the AEC space are still not built on a user friendly CMS (Content Management System) - which is a fancy way of saying that you really should be able to edit and add content and pages to your site without having to be a programer.
Would you like to know who is visiting your site? There’s a simple technology for that too. Wouldn’t it be great to know which companies are on your site, what pages they are looking at and where they came from (google search, referring site, ads, etc). Not only is it really is a great way to build a lead list for business development, but it will also tell you which projects and content are most relevant and what pages are consistently ignored. Of course, you’ll also be able to tell which competitors are trolling your site. Although it might feel a bit big brotherish for some, there is no denying that it’s a powerful tool that should at least be explored.
If you’re taking a second (or third, or fourth) look at your site, I strongly encourage you to start with a proper Site Audience Strategy. Don’t blow another dime on your site until you’ve figured out the basic strategic questions.