Mel Lester recently posed the question, “Is it time to rethink your website?” Mel’s post brought up some interesting points, but may have missed others.
Let’s look at Mel’s key points.
Compare Your Site to the Competition
So how much of an asset is your website in helping clients choose your firm? One way to assess this is to compare your site to that of your primary competitors. Does your site give your firm an advantage or disadvantage? In my own review of A/E firm websites, I’ve found very few that really stand out.
I think that point deserves a little more discussion. One of, if not the most critical thing your website needs to do is differentiate your firm. And gosh, that’s not an easy thing to do.
Differentiating your civil engineering or architectural firm from the thousands of others is not an easy task. But it’s something that can be done and a website is a good platform to do it on.
I do agree the look of your website matters, but only to a point. If it looks like you built it in Microsoft Word, I think it does leave a bad impression. But beyond that, what looks “unprofessional” is up to each individual’s perception.
For example, what looks good to a university architect might not look good to the chief engineer of a department of transportation.
Our old site wasn’t winning any beauty contests. But for years I resisted redesigning it because I could cite instances where the website did it’s job, bringing in clients and reassuring prospects that we were the right choice.
I contend that in every case the content of your website is more important than the look. Yes, even if you are an architectural firm.
Show What It’s Like Working With Your Firm
Mel suggest your website should demonstrate the soul of a firm. While that makes sense, keep in mind that a client’s experience depends on the people he or she works with.
A client’s experience with your firm’s office in Chicago might differ from his or her experience with your office in LA.
If you describe an A+ experience on your website and you deliver an A- performance, that’s a broken promise. It’s important that you don’t set up clients for a letdown.
If you are delivering an A- experience while your competitors are delivering B- experiences, that’s good. I always suggest under promising and over delivering.
The best way to promote your firm’s credentials is not by telling potential customers about what you can do, but by demonstrating your expertise and insight through “content marketing.”
Mel’s post addresses the importance of content. I do agree with him on this point. On the web, content is king. At my own firm, I always say we are at our best when we are in front of a client, showing them what we know. Showing is always better than telling. As Mel suggests, providing valuable and useful content is a good way to do that.
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