2021 was a life changing year for David Lecours (see #3 below). We are excited to share five highlights (in no particular order) from last year.
1. Launch of the New Bergelectric Website
Website years are like dog years–you have to multiply x seven. Six years (42 in dog) after designing the SMPS San Diego “Best Website” for Bergelectric, it was time to redesign the site to help the company grow from 2800 to 3200 people.
View the Case Story
View the Actual Website
2. Kelly & Stone Architects Brand Strategy, Website, and Print Design
After completing brand strategy, messaging, and hero project descriptions, we designed SOQ and proposal templates.
These looked so good, KS|a hired us to redo their website.The new website creates a better mobile experience, features the team and shows off a curated global portfolio of homes.
View the Case Story
View the Actual Website
3. Birth of our son, Rowan William Lecours
Rowan was born April 12, 2021 and we are thrilled that his adoption was finalized December 9, 2021.
4. Launch of the Rewind Website
Rewind Building Technology Systems is a new venture started by leaders at Michael Wall Engineering. We launched a new Michael Wall Engineering (MWE) website in 2020 and the Rewind site in 2021.
See the Michael Wall Engineering Site
See the Rewind Website
5. New Bullivant Website & Branding
With significant transformation in the last 10 years, this law firm’s brand was stuck where they’d been, not where they’re headed.
LecoursDesign helped Bullivant with brand strategy, core values, vision, purpose, positioning, a refined brand name, brand identity, and a new website.
View the Case Story
View the Actual Website
LecoursDesign teamed with our client Murraysmith to enter three submissions for the national SMPS Marketing Communications Awards. What happened? We won all three!
Best Corporate Identity/Rebrand
Jurors said they loved the fun, engaging, impressive impact on recruitment and retention. It was comprehensive in approach and implementation. Another stated “Great job! Logo and materials look great, and the entry was very responsive.”
Jurors enjoyed this new site and their graphic approach “the visuals are fresh and unique”. Great research and planning, tied nicely to strategic plan! They clearly set out to rebrand their website as a recruitment/retention tool – did a good job at each stage. Outstanding results!
View the Site
Best Print Recruitment and Retention Promotion
One juror stated “What a great award submission – it made me want to work for MurraySmith! It’s clear that a lot of time and effort went into developing and refining each core value. And this set of coasters was a creative, perfectly executed way to help communicate your firm’s personality.
View the Case Story
It must have been the lucky socks (that we designed).
David Lecours and Josh Miles begin co-hosting PSM: Professional Services Marketing podcast with episode 102. Episode 101 covers how and why David and Josh accepted the offer from Brad and Scully to adopt the show.
PSM: Professional Services Marketing was one of two podcasts that Andrew Sculthorpe (Scully) and Brad Entwistle founded. Brad and Scully, Principals of ImageSeven, an Australia-based marketing communications firm continue producing SMC: School Marketing Communications podcast.
“We’re excited to serve the PSM audience with juicy marketing ideas to help firms attract great clients and talent,” said David Lecours. “Josh is a seasoned podcaster, and highly persuasive. So when he asked me to join him in co-hosting PSM, it was an easy yes!”
In Episode 102, Josh and David discuss their plans for the show. Mentioned in the episode:
- What have we done Brad and Scully?
- Who is new host David Lecours?
- Who is new host Josh Miles?
- Who is our intended audience?
- Upcoming topics and features of the show
- Our new website: www.psm.show
- The many options for website domain extensions
A great AEC firm website doesn’t just happen. It needs a defined process with each phase informing the next. LecoursDesign was honored with winning the Best Website Award at the SMPS Awards Gala for Randall Lamb’s site. We repeated the win, at the next Gala, for Bergelectric’s site. Creating award-winning websites requires visionary clients and a process of specific phases to ensure smooth project delivery. To help you with your next website project, I summarize each phase below.
Planning (2″“4 weeks)
First, we establish goals and tactics for your new site. Every new client and employee will pass through your website. So we consider how your new site will be a hub for your firm’s offline and online marketing initiatives. We review your current site’s analytics to see where users go on your site, how long they stay, and how they find your site (keyword search and referring sites). We review sites you admire, including your competitors to evaluate their online presence.
Architects call this phase programming. In website development, we call it planning. In both cases, it’s about gaining clarity on the why, what, and when of your new site. Even more important, it’s about who; the user and their needs. We develop three “personas” for the targeted user archetypes who will be visiting the new site. These “personas” are a compilation of demographic information and user profiling at the three buying stages: researcher, evaluator, and purchaser. It may sound silly, but I recommend giving each persona a name and a photo so they seem as real as possible.
This phase focuses on information architecture: what sections/pages to include in the new site and how will the user find her way to the information she seeks. This results in a Site Map: an outline of all the proposed pages organized by navigation buttons and page titles.
Deliverable: Findings & Recommendations, Strategic Brief (2″“3 page document outlining why, what, when, who, goals and scope of the new site), Personas, Keyword/SEO Research, Site Map
Prototyping (2″“4 weeks)
After approving the Site Map, we create greyscreen prototypes of the key page templates. Greyscreens, also called wireframes, are sketches of content on each key page template. They are grey because color at this point is distracting. The goal in this phase is to focus on content, not design. We used to present printed greyscreens, but now prefer digital. To really understand how a user experiences navigating from one page to the next, these greyscreens need to be on screen and clickable within a browser environment.
Knowing all page titles, you must begin wrangling content. This means gathering case stories, blog content, project descriptions and photos, people stories and photos, and about the firm information. A determination must now be made for a writer and photographer or illustrator to create content you’ll need for the new site. We can help you with all this.
Design Exploration (2 weeks)
We bring the greyscreen key templates to life with design by introducing color, typography, photography, illustration, backgrounds, graphic elements, buttons, etc. We present two design explorations of the Home, About, Project Gallery and Project page templates. If the new copy and photography isn’t ready, we use placeholder photos and copy.
Deliverable: Static Screenshots presented on screen.
Design Refinement (4″“8 weeks)
We refine the design by adding actual copywriting and imagery to the initial key templates. Upon approval, we apply the chosen design to all the remaining page templates. Interactive elements like rollovers or motion are shown as storyboards. If the site features responsive design (optimized for desktop, tablet and mobile), and it should, then we fine tune the design for different sized screens. Design refinement continues through the coding phase, and even after launch. A great website is never “done.” There are always opportunities for improving the user experience.
Deliverable: Static .jpg Screenshots presented on a laptop and smart phone
Coding (4″“8 weeks)
Except for the greyscreens, pages so far are static. Coding brings the pages to life by making them interactive, and fully functioning within modern web browsers. We code sites by creating a Content Management System (CMS) framework to allow clients to take over maintenance of key sections of their sites.
Deliverable: Coded site viewable within a web browser
Content Management System (CMS) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Training (1 day)
After coding the first key templates, we hold a training session with you on how to use your shiny new CMS. We share best practices for adding and updating content so your site stays fresh without having to hire an outside coder every time you want to make changes. We can also hold a training session for you to optimize each page of your site for search (SEO).
Content Population (4″“6 weeks)
Newly trained on your CMS, you can now populate your entire site with all the copy and imagery you have gathered since the Prototyping phase. This helps you learn the CMS in a “real environment” with a safety net of the site not being live yet. Plus, you’ve got an available expert (us) should you run into roadblocks.
Browser Testing & Launch (1 week)
We test your site on major browsers (both desktop and mobile) and operating systems (Mac, PC, iOs, and Android). Once ready, we prefer to go live with the new site as a soft launch where you don’t make a big announcement for at least a week. This let’s us all fine tune any quirks (there will be some). Then you announce that you are live and launch a promotion to drive visitors to your new site.
Obviously I’m biased, but I recommend you hire a web consultant focused on Architecture, Engineering and Construction (A/E/C) firms to help you with your next website. With the guide above, you’ll be an informed partner in the process. Who knows, it may lead to your next site being awarded “Best Website.”
A Website That Works by Mark O’Brien
The Strategic Web Designer: How to Confidently Navigate the Web Design Process by Christopher Butler
I too was confused, overwhelmed and scared of Google Analytics. Since the antidote to fear is knowledge, I wrote this post to help me, and you, understand how to use this essential tool. With the following advice, you can start slow, gain a basic understanding, and grow from here. Google Analytics is a tool that all A/E/C Marketers need to use in our increasingly digital world.
Why AEC Firms Should Use Google Analytics?
I like Google’s answer on their website: “Google wants you to attract more of the traffic you are looking for, and help you turn more visitors into customers.” I recognize that few, if any, A/E/C firms use e-commerce to instantly sell your services. But, relationships can, and do, begin online. A more realistic goal is to begin a relationship with a visitor by sharing your firm’s expertise and then asking the visitor to sign up for your email list, or blog. Google Analytics helps you continually refine your content to attract clients and talent that value your point-of-view.
To help you attract the right leads, here are questions you should be asking, that Google Analytics can help you answer:
- Who is visiting my site?
- Who is driving traffic to my site?
- Which content are they consuming on my site?
- How are they engaging with that content?
- What can I do to make their experience better?
I’ll take you “behind the curtain” with Google Analytics screenshots to answer the above questions for this site, lecoursdesign.com.
“The value of your website will grow as you regularly draw actionable conclusions form your measurement that help you to improve it.” ““ Chris Butler, author of A Strategic Web Designer.
Installing Google Analytics
If you already have Google Analytics installed, skip this section.
Even if you aren’t ready to use Google Analytics, you should install the tracking code in your website to begin to accumulate data. If you are in the process of creating a new website, you should definitely install Analytics in your old site so you have a baseline to compare the performance of your new site. Analytics is free, it’s invisible to your site visitors, and easy to install so you have no excuses for not having this useful tool.
- Go to http://www.google.com/analytics/
- In the main Navigation, click “Analytics,” then the “Sign Up For Free” button
- You’ll receive a tracking ID, something like UA-4878833
- If you have use WordPress as your Content Management System, install the plugin: Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights
- Copy and paste the tracking ID into your plugin
If you don’t have a Content Management System, then you’ll need to install a snippet of code, that includes your tracking ID, just before the </head> tag in each page you’d like to track. There is more info about how to do this here on the Google Analytics Website. Or you might need your friendly web developer to help you with this.
The Analytics User Interface and Key Terminology
In the left hand navigation, there are four main buttons you should know:
AUDIENCE reports help you understand your users.
ACQUISITION reports explore where your users come from.
BEHAVIOR reports summarize what your users do after they arrive.
CONVERSION reports show how well you’re doing against goals or revenue.
One of the first reports you’ll want to view is Audience > Overview, but first, you’ll need to know some key data point terminology (and my thoughts on their usefulness). This is a real report for this site, over the last year, with the numbers (in italics) for reference.
Sessions (3880) – Total number of Sessions within the date range. A session is a period time a user is actively engaged with your website.
Users (3128) – Users that have had at least one session within the selected date range. Includes both new and returning users. The pie graph in blue and green designates returning visitors (19.8%) vs. new visitors (80.2%).
Just because Google puts Sessions and Users front and center doesn’t mean it’s the most important data point. These are good to track for basic growth of your site traffic and may be good for your ego. But remember, the purpose of your site is not to bring mass visitors to your site; it should be to bring targeted prospects to your site and convert them to sign up for your mailing list.
Pageviews (6965) – Pageviews is the total number of pages viewed. Repeated views of a single page are counted.
“Traffic is meaningless; action is everything.” ““Mark O’Brien, author of A Website That Works
The average number of pages viewed during a session on your site. Repeated views of a single page are counted. This is simply Pageviews (6965) divided by Sessions (3880). This important metric helps to measure how deep a visitor is going into your site. We can assume the higher this number, the deeper a visitor is engaging with your site. Anything above 2 pages per visit is considered good.
Average Session Duration (00:01:12)
The average time duration a visitor stays on your site from when they land to when they leave. Time spent indicates engagement so longer = better. Anything greater than 2 min. per session is decent.
Bounce Rate (67.96%)
Percentage of users that enter your site and leave (bounce) after visiting only one page. Remember that this is an average across all pages. So, it’s more useful to drill down into specific pages to see where visitors are bouncing. For example, a high bounce rate (anything higher than 40%) on a Home, About, Services or Projects page is problematic. But a high bounce rate on a Contact Page is fine because visitors may come directly to this page to get your phone number or address and then leave. As you add valuable content to your blog (and you should), your bounce rate will probably increase because users may search and find your article, read it, be satisfied, and then go on with their day.
Start With Only These Three Reports
1. Behavior > Site Content > All Pages
This report shows which pages on your site are the most popular as measured by Pageviews. You can also view average time spent on specific pages here. While most visitors will enter your site through your home page, “Entrances” can help you determine what other pages visitors are entering on. Look at the top “Entrance” pages of your site and think about what would be the visitor’s impression if they entered your site through that page. Does your navigation allow the user to easily visit related, or other pages?
2. Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium
Shows which sources on the internet are referring visitors to your site. Since Pinterest is my top referrer, I know that I should pay attention to promoting my site on Pinterest. Google/Organic means organic (non-paid) search using Google. (Direct) / (none) means that visitors are keying in my URL “lecoursdesign.com” directly (no referring sites and no search).
3. Google Webmaster Tools > Search Console > Search Traffic > Search Analytics
This report shows you what search phrases visitors use to find your site. Since the goal of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is to attract visitors to your site who are unaware of you (they already know your brand name), pay attention to non-branded keywords. Non-branded keywords contain no reference to your brand name, but are hopefully geared towards your expertise. If your top keywords don’t match what your expertise, then re-work your Titles and Keywords in your SEO. Since “what is responsive design” is the top search phrase for my site, I should make sure I have a blog post related to this topic. I do, here. Note: You’ll access this report through Google Webmaster Tools , not Google Analytics.
Make it a Habit
Create a recurring event (monthly) in your Calendar to spend 20 minutes reviewing your analytics. You can export data easily if you like. Look for trends over a period of time to keep your finger on the pulse of your website. An example of this would be to measure which types of content your visitors are consuming the most (measured by Pageviews) on your blog. This gives you data for decision making on which subjects to write about in the future.
Whenever you make tweaks to your website, be sure to archive what you did, and when, so you can measure how these tweaks affect your website. It’s best to make tweaks one at a time so you can isolate the reason for changes in your website performance.
There were certain assumptions you made when building your site. Google Analytics allows you to prove or disprove these assumptions. It also allows you to respond to usability patterns that you didn’t anticipate. Think of your website using the Japanese concept of kaizen, or continual improvement. This will extend the life of your current site and make it an increasingly powerful marketing tool for your firm.