Architects are notorious for having awful websites. Whether it’s for architects, architecture schools, or architecture associations, there seems to be an endless number of hard to use, confusing, and downright ugly architecture websites out there.
Architects take pride in their work. This often translates to websites that feature their designs prominently, but sometimes this means the functionality of the website is lost. Heavily stylized designs with little or no information do not tell potential clients what they need to know, and can be frustrating to deal with.
With that in mind, here are three common problems architecture websites have (and suggestions on how to avoid them):
Lack of Text
Solution: Hybridize. It’s no use doing the work of maintaining a website if pictures are all that’s there, you might as well just have an Instagram account – websites need to tell visitors what they want to know. Having the right balance of text and images can do the necessary work of showing off particularly good designs, while still getting information to those who need it.
Architects love Flash. Adobe Flash, while beautiful, is not supported by Apple’s mobile devices – therefore, websites built with Flash are automatically off-limits to a percentage of the population. Sure, those people can look up the website at a later time using a computer, but the reality is that mobile traffic makes up a significant percentage of Google searches. There’s no point optimizing your website’s search ranking if some of the people who click through can’t access your content.
Solution: Develop a mobile-friendly site. There are always options – a simple, mobile friendly HTML based website will make sure people on the go get the information they need.
One of the key aspects of growing a business is social networking sites. A common problem associated with dynamic content or Flash-only websites is that often there’s no easy way to link to a specific image or project. Showing off a stylish, flashy new design on your website means nothing if people can’t find it easily.
Solution: Updated content and social media marketing. Depending on the reason for your website, a static page with a small about section could do the trick perfectly fine. To grow clientele, however, the key is content. Project updates, blog postings, etc that drive traffic back to your website on a regular basis will increase the shareability of your content. In addition, having Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts is common sense for businesses, and it should be common sense to include logos and links on your website.
This is a design that seems to do everything right – the simple entry page design, lots of content and information found on multiple pages, and a hybrid of Flash and HTML. However, the mistakes it makes are huge – the text on the entry page is not formatted properly. A simple thing like this turns a perfectly adequate architecture website into an ugly, unprofessional mess. The lack of social networking site logos or links on any of its pages means the website is not encouraging visitors to like their pages or follow their accounts (if they have any), and is therefore not converting clicks into seriously interested and updated clients.
The photography section is in Flash, with the rest of the website in HTML. It showcases beautiful architecture well with large pictures in a running slideshow. The pages in the sidebar make sense, and links to Facebook and Twitter pages show that this firm is serious about growing their client base. Links in the footer to specific projects in their portfolio creates interest, and people looking to hire for similar projects are automatically drawn in.
In conclusion – architectural design and web design do not go hand in hand. Similar to building design, the design of your website needs to have a good foundation. A logical structure works wonders, and there are ways to have stylish websites without sacrificing usability. A bad website that is too focused on flashy animation can hinder business growth and turn customers away. A good website, with useful information and straightforward design, can play a large role in getting the clients you need.