According to user-experience research and training group, Nielsen Norman Group, the majority of visitors leave a website within 10-20 seconds. Studies done by Microsoft Research, which included analyzing page-visit data and durations from over 200,000 different webpages confirms this. Visitors don’t read websites. They scan them.
So, what do you do? If your firm’s website is very simple – short and sweet – don’t change a thing. But if your website is set up so that visitors are expected to read it, it’s probably time for an overhaul.
At a minimum, your website should contain – in a format as clean and brief as possible – three things: Your firm’s profile, your portfolio, and your contact information.
Your Profile – A firm profile should be only one or two paragraphs stating who you are and what you’re about. You don’t need lines and lines describing your entire design and client-service philosophy (because few people will read it). It’s possible that your profile might also include photos and bios of your key firm members.
Your Portfolio – Yes, show your work! The Internet is the perfect medium for this. But don’t go overboard. You don’t need to include every project your firm has ever worked on, nor does each project need a 500-word essay about it. Select a few amazing photos of a few of your best projects, include – if appropriate – its location, client, square footage, and completion date.
Your Contact Information – Most people looking at your website are just looking for your contact information; a phone number or an email address. Make it obvious to find, on its own clean page, or even near the header. Don’t hide the word “Contact” in a tiny font at the lower left-hand corner.
Other pages your site might include are a news section or blog, but only if you update the news regularly or post to your blog frequently. And you might want to have a page for employment opportunities. But really, that’s about it. Visitors to your website aren’t exploring. Chances are, they didn’t link there by happenstance. They’re looking for something specific, so give it to them; and quickly!
If you have architects in your firm, chances are that they think they’re creative and graphic-savvy enough to design a website. If your firm employs engineers, many might think that they’ve got the technological prowess to understand web design coding and SEO. Wrong!
Webpage design is an art and science unto itself. Each page is carefully designed to influence behavior and staying power through typography, color, and structure. If you’re thinking for redesign your webpage, hire a professional.
PSMJ is always looking to publish diverse views on issues and trends in the A/E/C industry. We invite you to submit a 500-word post on any industry-related topic. We look forward to hearing from you.
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