How Is Your Firm Impacted – Mobile and Tablet Usage Surpassed Desktop Usage in October 2016

Did the sky just fall on your old, non-responsive website?

Making the rounds this past week was the announcement from StatCounter Global Stats that for the first time, mobile and tablet usage combined to exceed website usage on desktops/laptops. That is “kind of a big deal.” DEFINITELY. But, before you start scrambling and thinking that your website is trash and needs to be completely redesigned to only be optimal for pocket-sized viewing, here are five things to remember.

  1. This data takes into account broad website usage all across the web, all across the globe. As their data shows, usage in the USA is very different from usage in India. The most important factor in website design is knowing your user/target audience.
  2. Remember the type of information your website is traveled for. The vast majority of architecture firm websites see about 3 pages visited per user, unless they are heavy content producers with active blogs. What are your top pieces of content, and why? Are they pieces of content easily digestible on a small screen? If not, you may not only want to focus on responsive design, but also examine your content practices.
  3. Social media is a large traffic driver and makes up for a significant portion of mobile traffic.In fact, for 90% of our clients, social media is their top referral traffic source. In addition to brushing up your website, be sure your social media accounts are active and focused on driving people to your best content.
  4. View this data through the lens of our industry. It is true that mobile is increasingly important, but are people spending twenty minutes at a time viewing your architecture firm’s portfolio on their iphone? Likely not. If you are prioritizing your mobile and tablet layout, take into account the likely reason that someone would visit your site on their phone. Need some reinforcement for your assumptions? Check your Google Analytics for top pages with an added filter to see which ones are the top mobile performers.
  5. Give a high priority to a well-organized homepage. There is a lot to be said for a beautiful first impression, but remember that your homepage needs to be more than a pretty splash page for a number of reasons – SEO and user experience being two of them. Bring at least a little bit of content on to your homepage that may be useful to a mobile user like contact info or the latest blog posts so they won’t have to sift through expandable menus so much.

 

Ten Words You Should Replace on Your Architecture Website

Ok, so let’s just go ahead and get it out of the way…SEO is not the only thing that matters when it comes to your website. We definitely understand that. There are a great number of important goals and functions of your site, and you want it to captivate and engage your clients – period. However, many architecture websites miss the mark when it comes to content; that could mean SEO and engaging potential clients! So, we’ve combed oodles of sites and would love to share with you this list of ten words that you and your architecture firm should consider replacing with something else on your website.

  1. Dwelling. Well, guess what, I don’t know a single client that has ever searched for a “dwelling architect” – so there goes SEO. Perhaps more importantly, how many clients have you met that used the word “dwelling” to refer to their own house? Even though it sounds great in a case study, consider replacing the word “dwelling” with something more casual in your web copy.
  2. Design. Hear me out! Design is an important word to have, no question about it. In this instance though, we might recommend that you replace the word design in half the places that you have it on your site if you want better SEO. The issue is that design is a very versatile word, which hurts your SEO. Not as many people look for commercial designers as they do for commercial architects.
  3. Multi-disciplinary or Multidisciplinary. Out of the ridiculous bazillions of searches that Google handles, guess how many people search for “multidisciplinary design” per month…210 (as of today). Add to that, the value that the word “multidisciplinary” holds for your clients and it’s time to remove that word from your vocabulary.
  4. Award-winning. This one isn’t a total scrapper, but let’s be realistic about what this means. No one searches for an “award winning architecture firm” online. To be exact, 10 people per month on average via Google. So, if you want this to be relevant, give it some point of reference.
  5. On the Boards. (even though it’s a phrase instead of a word) This is a popular section of the website for architecture and engineering firms, but unfortunately, it’s not terminology that people outside of the industry use. It does have a higher search volume than a few other terms on this list, but consider switching this out for something more simple and familiar to your clients.
  6. We. Take a look at your site and see often you say “we” throughout your copy. You might be surprised at the final count. Write about your clients and their needs more and minimize the “we”.
  7. Program. Until your client is actually your client, they likely have never heard the word “program” associated with their project. It is an amazingly important part of the process, but could be substituted with better language for SEO and for their comfort level. Save that language for case studies or architizer.
  8. Nationwide. Clients have projects in certain locations. They may have them in multiple locations, but they are still specific. “Nationwide” doesn’t add much value to your copy; if you work in multiple states across the country, show your work in your portfolio and share the location specifically.
  9. Significant. If it wasn’t significant, it shouldn’t be on your website.
  10. Full-service. Try explaining to your clients what you mean when you say that you are a full-service architecture firm. Then, try explaining what an architecture firm would be like that wasn’t full-service, and give an example. Not an easy task. The term is pretty much fluff and does very little to differentiate your architecture firm’s website from any of your competitors’.

There’s our ten words (or nine words and a phrase)! Have any other good ones you think we should add to the list? Feel free to share some in the comments.

What to do now that your architecture firm is on Houzz

If you work for (or own) a residential architecture firm and you’ve been working hard to flex your social media muscles, you’ve more than likely given Houzz a shot. For those not in the know, Houzz is a social media platform focused entirely on residential design. It’s a great source of inspiration, ideas and dialogue – but one of the best aspects of it is that both professionals AND potential clients are active users. Homeowners looking for ideas, expertise and beautiful photography are very active, right alongside of some of the nation’s best architects, interior designers, contractors and landscape architects.

Of course, the tool is not an overnight rocket to widespread awareness for your firm. Over time though, with consistent interaction, more and more people will find your designs, interact with you and begin sharing your work.

Here are four ways to utilize your Houzz profile:

  • Use it for project inspiration. The “ideabooks” feature can be really useful from a billable standpoint, all while building your audience. Search through Houzz for ideas and inspiration when you’re looking for design solutions, finish ideas, unique entry ways, whatever.
  • Provide clients with more visuals. You can actually take this one step farther by using ideabooks FOR your clients. As you’re trying to sell a design or particular finish selection, you can create an ideabook just for that project and share the ideabook with your client to get their feedback and help paint the picture for them.
  • Interact via discussions. There are plenty of great discussion threads that can build your audience and credibility. Don’t be afraid to answer questions.
  • Continue to build the photo section. Put as many recent residential projects on there as you can and include descriptions. People search for things all the time and will begin asking you questions about certain products used, etc.

The fallout from an active Houzz presence can also include earned media, which is an added bonus in the social media world. With their own content and editorial team, Houzz actually recognizes popular designs/photos, features them in the blog and gives awards out annually. Increased mentions and attention turn directly into more web traffic and awareness for your firm. As with any successful online or social activity, it’s crucial to monitor and track as much of that success as possible with your web analytics.

Happy Houzzing!

10 Tips for Improved Social Media for Architects

What does it mean to you and your firm to “get more out of” social media? Meeting the daily minimum of tweets and posting the occasional update on Facebook only goes so far in building awareness and generating fresh connections with your audience. To make your A/E firm’s social media more valuable, consider these tips.

1. Follow more target clients than peers

It’s easy to get caught up following other people that like the “same stuff” as you, but instead of keeping a stream of only architects and architecture firms, look for connections with your clients and their peers.

2. Read and interact with your clients’ trade pubs

If your firm practices commercial or retail architecture, identify trade publications that your clients may read. Following more of those types of accounts will make you a more valuable partner to your clients.

3. More fun, less funds

Don’t think about making money with every blog post or tweet. Have fun, share a little personality.

4. Try chatting after 5 pm

Connecting with clients on a personal level sometimes requires sharing or tweeting when you’re not in the office. We’re not talking about answering work email here, just remember that your clients care about their business even when they’re off the clock. Chime in every once in a while with a share or RT after 5.

5. Integrate your approach

Your website and your social media profiles aren’t two separate entities. In fact, they’re more like two stories in the same building. Make as many connections between your social media and your website as you can.

6. Monitor your web stats

If you don’t have Google Analytics (or something comparable), get it immediately. Knowing your most popular content, common search terms and traffic sources will help you create relevant future content.

7. Email can be social

Email marketing doesn’t stop with an open. Integrate your emails with social media platforms and consider repurposing email newsletters for blog posts.

8. Go beyond the big name tools

Start looking for blogs or online social communities that are more related to your clients and less generic. Houzz is a great example of a tool residential architecture firms can use with a much better impact than Facebook.

9. Solve a problem

If you want to prove that you care about your clients, help solve their problems when you aren’t getting paid. Creating a LinkedIn group for your clients to converge and converse can help them solve challenges while building your understanding of what your clients need.

10. Purge

If you’ve been active on Twitter and Facebook for a while, you’ve probably amassed a long list of likes and follows. Some of them are fantastic, while many may just be clogging your feed and distracting you. Twitter lists help organize your feed, but nothing is as easy as just plain deleting people. Don’t be afraid to clean up your accounts every once in a while.