How to Make the Most of Award Submissions

So you’ve spent hours preparing your design award submission, hoping to win and receive the praise of design peers and potential clients alike. You’ve hit the submit button, off it goes…now what?

Whether you win the award or not, the value of your effort doesn’t have to stop there. From a marketing perspective, the time you’ve spent on your submission has a number of other applications, allowing you to take better advantage of your investment. Here are just a few ways you can capitalize on your award submission.

Get Published

Going through the motions on an award submission forces you to identify the unique aspects of your project and explain them in a concise way. That’s what media contacts are looking for as well! Getting press for receiving an award is often less likely than getting press for delivering a unique project. Take the story you crafted and make it relevant for the media, regardless of the award outcome.

Share the Project with Your Audience

You’ve already written descriptions and gathered the best photos, now get an html email together, add the project to your website, write a blog post about it, etc. Don’t hold your breath waiting for an award before you share the work you’re most proud of!

Involve the Client

As a designer, you may feel great about winning an award, but what about the client? Whether residential, commercial or government, any building occupant would love to know that a.) you think their building is so nice it should be up for an award and b.) it actually won one. Keep them in the loop early, share your submittal with them for feedback and even influence them to share good news amongst their media contacts or colleagues. Getting client feedback during the award process may even uncover some unique benefits about how the building functions that you didn’t think about.

Submit It Again

The final, and perhaps easiest, piece of advice is to repurpose your award submission for another contest or event. Maybe there is a trade-specific contest, a neighborhood home and garden tour, or even an online design contest or forum. There is bound to be another opportunity to update your submission and adjust it to meet another set of requirements. Good luck!

5 Questions to Whittle Down Your Portfolio

One of the biggest struggles that firms seem to have with their website is where to draw the line with the portfolio – specifically, determining how many projects should be included. Designing and building a website should result in a site that can “scale up” easily, allowing firms to add projects as time goes on. That doesn’t always make it easy to decide what gets included at launch, and it also leaves very loose expectations on when/if things should get REMOVED from the site (yes, I said it – you should actually be deleting your older work).

Here are some quick thoughts to help you determine what gets cut.

  1. Was the work done for this firm? If it wasn’t, cut it. The only time it really makes sense to include projects from a prior firm is when you’re first starting out. Otherwise it is too easy to come across as a firm that’s trying to bulk up your portfolio artificially.
  2. Are you creating an “other” category? (Hint: Don’t!) If you have a beautifully organized portfolio of work, divided by your major target industries, and then find yourself adding an “other” tab, you’re doing your work a disservice and diluting your marketing message. How would a potential client feel if they found themselves to be called “other”? Who searches for “other”? Who knows what to expect when navigating to “other”?
  3. Would you want another project just like it? Part of what you’re saying with your portfolio is “I’m/we’re proud to have been involved with this project and I’d/we’d love to do it again.” Be honest with yourself and your potential clients; do you actually want to do another similar project?
  4. If a potential client only saw 4 pages on your website, would it be ok if this was one of them? If you look at your website’s analytics, you’ll probably notice that you average between 2 and 4 pages per session. Ask yourself “Is this project representative enough of the firm that I would spend half of my first impression on it?”
  5. Has this client heard from our firm in a while? Remember how dynamic the web is and how well-connected people are these days. If you show client work and a web user happens to know that client, you can bet they will reach out if they are a serious lead. If you aren’t sure what the client will say, it’s best not to open that door.

Our policy when advising clients is ALWAYS quality over quantity. It’s better to have a streamlined, more valuable portfolio than a huge directory of scattered work!

Three Tips for Mobile Architecture Firm Websites

How Important Is Your Architecture Firm’s Mobile Website Presence?

Responsive design. Boom. It’s the biggie these days and boy is everybody asking for it. It feels like it’s becoming the new “we have to get on social media because everybody else is” in many ways.

Truthfully, responsive design is important, just as social media is. The basic concept behind it is that you want your website to deliver information in a way that makes the most sense for usability based on the device it’s being displayed on. But the focus on responsive design also puts a heavy emphasis on the types of content being consumed – it’s important to know what content and how much content people are viewing when they come to your site on their phone.

Often the highest priority for an AEC website is photography – the portfolio! The work should shine. Add on a layer of focus on strategic marketing goals like SEO around certain target markets, inbound marketing, etc. and you’re putting together a good list of priorities for a website. But, pump the breaks – I need my entire website to be responsive! What is responsive when it comes to your portfolio? How much time, effort and money should be invested in reorganizing your entire website for mobile users?

I decided to take a look at the Google Analytics for every client website that we have access to and see what kind of data we could pull when it comes to mobile use. The aggregated results look like this:

  • Average % of mobile visits – 13.64%
  • Average pages per visit – 1.87
  • Highest number of pages per visit for any site on a mobile – 3

So, when we look at how much content the average person is consuming via mobile device in our industry – the answer is less than 2 pages! This doesn’t tell us that responsive design isn’t important. In fact, it tells us the opposite. It tells us that if you want to maximize the usability of your website to clients and potential clients visiting via mobile – you would DRASTICALLY simplify what you’re delivering.

Here are three tips I would pull from this data to improve your AEC firm’s mobile-friendly aspects.

  • Make contact info available on the homepage, immediately. Also, ensure your contact info is text-based, not an image. Mobile users only viewing less than two pages are probably trying call you or find you. Make it easy for their built-in phone and tablet functionalities.
  • If you have a blog, and want people to read it – make sure it’s styled well for mobile. If you are very active on social media, a high percentage of your mobile traffic is probably driven from there. If you want people to keep coming back to your blog (or stick around on it), make sure the content is easy to digest.
  • Responsive Web Design is just one piece of the puzzle. Don’t be afraid to consider that the majority of your website may just not be relevant to mobile users at all. Monitor Google Analytics, see what you can find out about your mobile users and don’t be afraid to design a mobile experience that is focused on their content needs instead of your design skills.

The Architecture Firm Website Quiz – What Kind of Site is Right for Our Firm?

The Architecture Firm Website Quiz – What Kind of Site is Right for Our Firm?

Looking to redesign or significantly update your architecture or engineering firm’s website can be a dream or a nightmare! The fact of the matter is that regardless of how simple the job seems to be at kickoff, competing priorities, content gathering, technology changes and other factors require a strategic approach to get the job done right and have your firm end up with a website that you can be proud of. Understanding the options and your main goals is the first place to start. Take our brief quiz to help get some direction on which type of website might work best for your AEC firm!