Game Show: Beyond the AEC Website

Your Game Show Hosts: David Lecours and Josh Miles

You can click through our slide deck below. To download slides, click on the “view on slideshare” button lower left.



Best Practice A/E/C Websites
http://www.psomas.com
http://www.bergelectric.com

http://www.randalllamb.com
http://www.ktua.com
http://www.mwalleng.com
http://www.moonmayoras.com
http://www.array-architects.com
http://www.tylin.com
http://populous.com
http://www.dpr.com
http://www.arup.com
http://www.stantec.com
http://www.clarkconstruction.com
http://www.kpf.com
http://coarchitects.com
http://hok.com

Responsive Design for SMPS-SD

Other Sites Shown in Session
http://www.davidlecours.com
http://milwaukeepolicenews.com
http://www.smpssd.org
http://www.nurun.com/en/
http://www.carrierjohnson.com

bestweb_3

Content Marketing Articles For A/E/C Firms
Why AEC Firms Must Use Content Marketing
AEC Content Marketing: How To Get Started

A/E/C Firm Website Articles
5 Symptoms of an Expired Website
Why Your Next AEC Firm Website Will Use Responsive Design
I’m No Longer Scared of Google Analytics
4 Functions AEC Websites Must Serve
SEO for AEC Firms
The Website Development Process
Should You Include People On Your AEC Website?

Other Website Resources
http://moz.com
http://www.smashingmagazine.com
https://typekit.com
http://www.typography.com


For more about LecoursDesign web & digital services, click here.

Surfing Lessons: The New Wave of AEC Websites

Surfing Lessons: The New Wave of AEC Websites

Surfing Instructors: David Lecours and Josh Miles

You can click through our slide deck below. To download slides, click on the “view on slideshare” button lower left.

 

Best Practice AEC Websites
http://www.psomas.com
http://www.randalllamb.com
http://www.ktua.com
http://www.mwalleng.com
http://www.geoconinc.com
http://www.moonmayoras.com
http://www.array-architects.com
http://www.tylin.com
http://populous.com
http://www.dpr.com
http://www.arup.com
http://www.sellen.com
http://www.stantec.com
http://www.clarkconstruction.com
http://www.kpf.com
http://coarchitects.com
http://hok.com

Responsive Design for SMPS-SD

Other Sites Shown in Session
http://www.davidlecours.com
http://www.teehanlax.com
http://milwaukeepolicenews.com
http://www.smpssd.org
http://www.nurun.com/en/
http://www.carrierjohnson.com

bestweb_3

Content Marketing Articles For AEC Firms
Why AEC Firms Must Use Content Marketing
AEC Content Marketing: How To Get Started

AEC Firm Website Articles
5 Symptoms of an Expired Website
Why Your Next AEC Firm Website Will Use Responsive Design
I’m No Longer Scared of Google Analytics
4 Functions AEC Websites Must Serve
SEO for AEC Firms
The Website Development Process
Should You Include People On Your AEC Website?

Other Website Resources
http://moz.com
http://www.smashingmagazine.com
https://typekit.com
http://www.typography.com

Resources at Miles Design
http://milesdesign.com/surf


To purchase an extended training video of David and Josh presenting Surfing Lessons: The Next Wave of AEC Websites, click here.


For more about LecoursDesign web & digital services, click here.


Reward for Scrolling This Far: embarrassing photo of David Lecours at 15
David Lecours surfs

Should We Include A People Section In Our AEC Firm Website?

Should We Include A People Section In Our AEC Firm Website?

Come On In

Having a “People” section on your website is essential. People do business with people they know. So it continues to surprise me that there is any question about including your people on your website. AEC marketing is built on relationships. While client prospects can have a relationship with your brand, this best occurs after an introduction by your people. In this digital age, prospects want a human connection before considering hiring your firm.

Including People on your website inspirers a lot of questions. In this post, I’ll answer those I’m asked most frequently.

Who should we include in our People section?
Those in your firm with client contact. Typically this means Project Managers and above, plus everyone in Marketing and Business Development.

What if these people leave our firm?
Then you take them off your website using your content management system. This is trickier if you have group photos. If the group photo is of 4 or more people, and one of them leaves, then keep the photo. After all, the person leaving did work at the firm at the time of the photo.

Won’t our competitors steal our best employees?
Your competitors already know who your best employees are. Seeing your staff on your website isn’t going to make them any more desirable. Your employees are already on LinkedIn. They should also be visible in the industry by developing relationships. Keeping employees off your website to prevent them from leaving the firm is a myth. Trying to hide staff from competitive predatory poaching does more harm than good.

Should we include people’s photos?
Yes. Human beings like to look people in the eyes to get to know them. Adding a face to a biography makes that person real, more authentic and approachable when a prospective client sees that person at a networking event. Nobody expects your staff to be supermodels, so don’t worry about people being them photogenic enough.

People section on an AEC Firm Website

Corporate headshot or casual friday photos?
Both. Provide several photos to communicate a person’s diversity. Ultimately, photo style depends on the culture of your firm. Or even more importantly, the culture of your target clients.

What about video?
If a photo is a thousand words, then video is 10,000. Video is a powerful way to communicate what someone will be like to work with. It provides a great opportunity to tell that person’s story. Not everyone is comfortable speaking on camera like Ron Burgundy. But there are other options. Try voice-over with project photos or favorite things combined as a slideshow. Stalwart PR, cleverly used video of employees talking about the strengths of their co-workers. Think video testimonial, but instead of coming from a client (which isn’t bad either), the praise comes from co-workers.

Should we include a bio?
I prefer a short introduction to the person with the ability to “Read More” or download a PDF Bio. The download can be helpful for teaming scenarios. Simply listing a person’s achievements like a resume is dull. I recommend a story with more of a narrative arc to make an emotional connection. Another technique I’ve used effectively is an interview format like you’d see in a magazine. You include custom questions per person, and feature their best answers (as seen below in the Randall Lamb site we designed).

Q&A For People Section

What should we call this section?
Call it something consistent with the culture of your firm. You can be clever, but not cryptic. It should be easy for visitors to find this section as part of your top-level navigation. I’ve seen this section titled as People, Team, Staff, Leaders, About Us (I’d reserve this title for about the firm), Leadership, Talent, Management, etc.

Having a People section on your website is another great tool for prospects to get to know, like, and trust your people, and thus, your firm.

SMPS The Wave 2014 Resources

SMPS The Wave 2014 Resources

Pro Surfing Tips: What the New Wave of Websites Means for AEC Marketers

Surfing Instructors: David Lecours and Josh Miles


 

SESSION OUTLINE

Intro

  1. Introducing today’s surf instructors
  2. Social Handles & Hashtags
  3. CTA ““ where to get the slides, links, downloads, and handouts

Why – Why Have a Website?, Why This Session?

  1. A brief perspective of AEC websites
  2. Why this session? Why have a website?
  3. 4 Functions: Attract, Demonstrate, Connect, Convert
  4. Wipeout: The gnarliest mistakes online today.

What – What Is The New Wave Of Websites?

  1. A new wave is on its way””are you ready to ride?
  2. What’s NEW for AEC websites?
    Examples, and case studies of some of the hottest trends:
    Content Management Systems
    Responsive Design
    Simplified Navigation
    Going Vert (Scrolling), Parallax Scrolling
    CTAs & Lead Generation
    Graphic Design Trends
  3. Marketing Automation
    Cross-channel marketing
  4. Beyond text and photos: content that scores big with prospects, SEO
  5. Respect the environment: Today’s digital ecosystem
  6. Q&A, Comments

How – How To Create Your Next Website

  1. Ding Repair (fix it up) or New Board (whole new website)?
  2. Lifecycle of a website
  3. Assembling your surf team:
    Getting the right team on board
    Selling a new website to your team
    Leading the content charge
  4. Assembling the right surf instructors
    When to go outside for help
  5. Process: Planning, prototyping, design, content, & coding
  6. Measurement: How long? How much $?
    What To Budget, Calculating ROI
  7. After the Surf Session
    Zen and the art of maintenance
  8. Q&A, Comments

Review & Conclusion


Resources at Miles Design
http://milesdesign.com/surf

bestweb_3

Best Practice AEC Websites
http://www.psomas.com
http://www.randalllamb.com
http://www.ktua.com
http://www.mwalleng.com
http://www.geoconinc.com
http://www.moonmayoras.com
http://www.array-architects.com
http://www.tylin.com
http://populous.com
http://www.dpr.com
http://www.arup.com
http://www.sellen.com

Other Sites Shown in Session
http://www.davidlecours.com
http://www.teehanlax.com
http://www.kpf.com
http://coarchitects.com
http://hok.com
http://milwaukeepolicenews.com
http://www.smpssd.org

Content Marketing Articles For AEC Firms
Why AEC Firms Must Use Content Marketing
AEC Content Marketing: How To Get Started

AEC Firm Website Articles
5 Symptoms of an Expired Website
Why Your Next AEC Firm Website Will Use Responsive Design
I’m No Longer Scared of Google Analytics
4 Functions AEC Websites Must Serve
SEO for AEC Firms
The Website Development Process

Other Website Resources
http://moz.com
http://www.smashingmagazine.com
https://typekit.com
http://www.typography.com

Reward for Scrolling This Far: embarrassing photo of David Lecours at 15
David Lecours surfs

Why Your Next AEC Firm Website Will Use Responsive Design

Why Your Next AEC Firm Website Will Use Responsive Design

Responsive Design

Most A/E/C firms tout proficiency with the latest technology and excellence in user experience (a.k.a. client service) written on their websites. But if those websites are only designed for viewing on a desktop computer, then they are contradicting any claims of technology or user experience prowess. The medium must match the message.

Have you had the painful experience of navigating a website on your smart phone by pinching in and out to touch one button without accidentally hitting the adjacent button? It reminds me of the childhood board game Operation where you test your dexterity by tweezing out body parts without getting zapped. Responsive Design prevents your website users/visitors from getting “zapped.”

Your next A/E/C firm website must incorporate Responsive Design because it provides an optimal user experience on all screen sizes. In this post, I’ll share the following:

  • What is Responsive Design?
  • How Does Responsive Design Work?
  • Why Do You Need a Responsive Design Site?
  • Who is Using Responsive Design?

What is Responsive Design?
Responsive Design is a new design and coding approach to provide an optimal user experience based on the user’s screen size and orientation. The content of the site “responds” to fit a smart phone, tablet, laptop or desktop computer.

Responsive Design


“Instead of building alternate versions of your website for mobile devices or platforms, responsive design is a method that allows you to build one site that adapts to the context in which it is viewed” explains Chris Butler, author of The Strategic Web Designer.


If you are into etymology, the term “responsive design” originated from a 2010 blog post from Ethan Marcotte.

How Does Responsive Design Work?
You don’t want to hear technical nerdspeak about code, so I’ll focus on what the user experiences when viewing a responsive design site. Responsive design is based on a fluid grid that adjusts the layout of the site based on the size of the visitor’s screen. Here are 3 screen sizes and what happens to the content.

Responsive Design Website

Why Do You Need a Responsive Design Site?
1. Mobile
By summer 2013, there will 7.1 billion mobile subscriptions. This equals the number of humans on the planet. Since we look at our mobile phones, on average, 150x per day, there’s a good chance that your website will be viewed on a mobile phone. Responsive design helps to ensure the user experience on your website is favorable regardless of screen size. At best, the technology is transparent and the user simply finds what she needs. At worst, the user notices the responsive design and makes a mental note of your firm’s technical savvy.

If your website is not optimized for mobile, users may hate your website . A 2012 survey of mobile users by Sterling Research and SmithGeiger show that nearly half of all mobile users say they feel “frustrated and annoyed” when visiting poorly mobile optimized sites. And 36% say they feel like “they’ve wasted their time” when they visit those sites. Responsive design can fix this.

2. Content Marketing
If your firm engages a content marketing strategy, and it should, responsive design supports users engaging with your content regardless of their device. User’s often begin consuming content on one device, only to finish on another. I often browse my twitter stream in Hootsuite on my phone, and send longer blog post links via Evernote to read later on my iPad. I may get an email on my desktop computer about a firm I’d like to research, then send it to Evernote to read later on my iPhone while waiting at the airport.  Your website, and it’s content need to live and work like you do (everywhere).

3. Single Site, Single Web Address
The old model was to create a separate website for each device: desktop, tablet and phone. This tripled the amount of design and coding required. It often resulted in dumb-downed versions of your site for phones. It also potentially created 3 different URLs: desktop.you.com, tablet.you.com, and phone.you.com. Which URL do you use, or do others use, when virally sharing your brilliant content? Responsive design let’s you update and share one URL: you.com.

Successful Examples of Responsive Design
Time magazine recently upgraded Time.com to a responsive site. Their pages viewed per visit, mobile, tablet and desktop usage, are all up considerably:
Mobile is up 23%
Home Page uniques are up 15% and time spent is up 7.5%
Mobile bounce rate decreased by 26%

time.com
davidlecours.com
lecoursdesign.com (this site)
psomas.com
moonmayoras.com

Conclusion
Is Responsive Design simply a website trend that will become obsolete 5 years from now? I doubt it. But the web is always evolving. I can guarantee you there will be something new down the road. If you want to back up your project delivery claims of using the latest technology, plan to update your website every 3″“5 years. If you are planning a a new website now, call David Lecours 760-632-7619. We’re very responsive.

4 Functions AEC Websites Must Serve

4 Functions AEC Websites Must Serve

Attract, Demonstrate, Connect, Convert

If you have this nagging sense that your AEC firm website could be more than an online brochure, you’re right. The modern website doesn’t sit idle waiting for the arrival of a visitor to simply confirm what they’ve already heard about your firm. When combined with narrow positioning and content/inbound marketing, a good website becomes a business development tool.

Here’s an example:

A city planner wants to know best way to gather public input for a new park being considered years from now. She searches for “public input methods for city parks” via Google. A blog post titled What Works: Public Input for Public Parks is one of many search results. Google likes to return local results so this blog post written by a local landscape architecture and planning firm (Firm X) ranks highly. The planner knows that her city will eventually need to hire a firm to design the park, so she’s curious about the perspective of Firm X. The Planner clicks the link and is directed to the blog section within the Firm X’s website. The blog post offers several insightful suggestions that make the planner look good when she recommends these ideas to her Planning Commission. At the end of the post, there are links to similar articles. She is too busy to read them now so she bookmarks the links. Knowing that she will forget about these bookmarks, she subscribes to the firm’s newsletter. Now she won’t have to remember to go back to the firm’s blog because useful articles will show up in her email in-box. Her contact info automatically gets entered into Firm X’s CRM. The park project is put on hold and a year goes by. The city now plans to create a walking trail and puts out an RFP for design. Since she regularly receives free valuable advice from Firm X, the city planner sends them a link to the RFP. Firm X wins the job in the presentation interview because the selection committee felt like they knew and trusted Firm X after hearing a Principal speak on Trends in Trail Design at a recent conference.

The best professional service websites attract the unaware, demonstrate your expertise, connect personally, and convert visitors into prospects.

Attract
If your firm is clearly and narrowly positioned to attract a specific audience, then your website can reach and engage the unaware. These visitors may be potential clients or employees. Both are important to the success of your firm.

A benefit of knowing your target audience is knowing what keeps them up at night. Searchable and optimized content on your website that soothes client pain points will increase your odds that unaware prospects find you. Once they find you, they will devour your content because it seems like it was written just for them.

“A main opportunity is to attract the unaware: those who need your expertise but are unaware you exist or not considering you.” ““Mark O’Brien, Author of A Website That Works.

By regularly adding unique, expertise-based content to your site, you will boost SEO. You begin to convey to Google who you are, which helps Google send the right visitors. The visitors like your content because it feels customized for them. Then visitors start linking to your content. Google notices this and increases your search rankings.

Demonstrate Expertise
A good website can allow someone to get to know (as described above) to like to trust your firm. This happens by demonstrating your expertise in writing. This can be blog posts, white papers or monthly newsletters. Make sure the content is indexable (not a PDF), so Google, and visitors, can find it.

A commitment to regularly adding valuable and searchable content to your website demonstrates your expertise and works to pre-position your firm as a leader before the RFP comes out. Content marketing is so critical for professional services because we are “selling the invisible.” Buyers can’t see, touch, or test our services before they buy. Content marketing is a no pressure, non-sales manner for prospects to understand how you think, what you believe, and how you’ve solved previous problems.

Creating engaging content is hard to do. Most will give up after a few months. This is an opportunity to stand out.

I recommend starting with writing a blog. then graduate to:
• quarterly webinars
• white papers
• speaking where your clients gather
• videos & podcasts

Connect
The mantra I  hear repeated is: A/E/C marketing is a relationship business. People do business with people they know. Yet, I’m shocked how many firms are unwilling to highlight firm leaders on their website out of fear that this talent will be poached. Guess what? Your competition already knows who your leaders are. If your leaders’ loyalty is so fragile that an email from a competitor will cause them to jump ship, then you’ve got bigger issues.

While there is no substitute for meeting someone in person, you can begin a relationship by making an emotional connection online. No, not online dating. Do this in the People section of your site by showing some personality. We recently designed a site where we asked magazine style questions to the leaders. You could also use a video of someone telling a client story. Avoid the cold bio with only facts. Avoid the stiff headshot where everyone looks the same. Give website visitors a reason to like the people that they may eventually work with.

ARUP Videos

ARUP lets visitors get to know leaders in their own words using video.

Convert
The sales cycle for professional services is long and involves multiple steps. Nobody is going to visit your site and wonder where your shopping cart is so they can purchase your services with PayPal. However, in exchange for your valuable content, visitors are willing to give you their trust and attention in the form of their name and email address.

You may be reluctant to place sign-up forms on most of your pages, because you feel it is too “sales-ey” for a professional service firm. Get over this concern. Visitors won’t go to all the pages on your site so you don’t want to miss a conversion opportunity by only putting a sign-up form on your Contact page. If you are offering valuable content, you are helping visitors by allowing them sign up for your e-newsletter. Then they don’t have to remember to go consistently return to your site.

Conversion should be accomplished through a clear, concise and compelling call-to-action form (see below). The form should include Name and Email (no more) and a link to examples of the type of content they will receive. Keep the form concise to minimize resistance in the sign-up process.

CTA

Sign-up form for Randall Lamb

Since the sales cycle is long, it’s critical to get someone into your CRM and put them on a consistent drip of valuable content. When they become ready to buy your services, your firm will remain front of mind.

“No single piece of content, no matter how excellent, will be as successful as a steady, long term flow of quality content.” ““ Chris Butler, Author of The Strategic Web Designer

Conclusion
Websites have evolved from passive brochure-ware to active lead generating tools. Here are some A/E/C industry examples of sites doing this well:
Randall Lamb Engineers
Array Architects
DPR Construction
ARUP

 

LecoursDesign is a branding and digital marketing agency helping A/E/C* firms attract clients and talent.
* A/E/C = Architecture / Engineering Construction (but you already knew that)
privacy policy  |  © LecoursDesign 2018