In this post, we’re going to walk you through how to improve the online portfolio for your architecture firm. Why is this important?
Your website is a marketing tool. It likely has an online portfolio component, and chances are good that you’ve put a lot of effort into selecting just the right projects and project images to reflect your best work and the breadth of your experience.
Chances may also be good that after looking through your firm’s website the latest Google Analytics report, you noticed that not many of your online portfolio projects have are getting visitors. In fact, just a few receive the bulk of the traffic — and they might not be the ones you really want prospective clients to focus on.
This issue is more common than you might think. In fact, many architectural clients who come to us feel they aren’t generating as many leads as they could be because their portfolios just aren’t getting enough attention.
How do you improve the performance of your online portfolio? Here are some proven tips.
1. Understand You Aren’t the Primary Audience
By training and experience, architects get more out of looking at architectural photography than non-architects. They are able to look at a project photo and discern the kind of work that went into the project, and they appreciate — and even enjoy — photography of architectural projects. When selecting photos for a website, architects excel at identifying the specific images and crops that will resonate with other architects.
It’s important to understand, though, that your perspective might be at odds with what your prospects are looking for. Prospective clients don’t think of online architecture portfolios as digital art museums; they visit them to see if your firm has experience with projects similar to the one they have. They may be looking for solutions to specific problems, for instance, and will want to see how you solved that same problem across three or four buildings. If your portfolio doesn’t make that possible, no matter how beautiful the images are, they will look elsewhere for an easier experience.
By reviewing your site analytics and considering the current RFPs under submission, you can better understand what projects are resonating with prospective clients and what projects aren’t getting the attention they should.
2. Describe What You Did, in a Way People and Search Engines Can Understand
A common issue with websites for architects is the absence of any project description or what the point of a particular photo is. Put another way, there’s no text, just images.
While you can look at a project photo and immediately discern the significance of the work, your prospective clients usually can’t. Most often they aren’t architects and have no preexisting knowledge of the project. This means that all they have to judge the project by is the photos themselves. They will draw conclusions about the project and your expertise based solely on what they, as laypeople, can surmise from a photo — which may not have anything to do with the work you did.
When adding text, it’s important to write it so that both people and search engines can understand it. Like most professions, architects have a language for describing and thinking about their work and their processes. This can create obstacles when the people you need to convince about your experience don’t understand what you’re saying. Search engines are similarly ill-equipped to parse architectural terminology and phrasing. They prefer copy to be written in a more straightforward (and yes, basic) way. By helping search engines understand what you’re talking about, you increase the chances that your portfolio project will be in the list of search results when a prospective client is searching for a firm like yours.
3. Make Good Use of Your Blog
In addition to posting details about completed projects in your portfolio, you should also consider highlighting past or ongoing work in your blog. Not only does this give you more search-friendly content for prospects to find, but it gives you a different way to talk about what you do.
Great blog posts for architectural websites might take the form of casual case studies. In other words, they can touch on challenges, show why the company was chosen for a specific project, and highlight specific aspects of the work that might be easy to miss from the outside. If you can include client or project partner quotes, that will give prospective clients a way to imagine how you could solve their problem and what it would be like to work with you.
Smart architectural firms use their blogs to show off achievements and build interest in future projects.
4. Change Things Up in Your Architectural Portfolio
In online marketing, the top two or three Google results for a search query get roughly two-thirds of all available search traffic.
The same thing can happen with your portfolio pages. Whichever projects are highlighted first, second, and third are likely to draw the biggest interest and attract the highest number of page views. By rotating them once in a while, and adding new items to your portfolio regularly, you can ensure website visitors get a fresh look. This has the added benefit of ensuring that your site doesn’t become stale.
Don’t treat your portfolio like a static document when you could attract more interest by changing things up now and again.
5. Don’t Overlook the Importance of Site Navigation
Few prospective clients are going to make their way to your online portfolio if it’s hidden away in your website. That’s especially true for first-time visitors who aren’t yet familiar with your site.
There is always a temptation to opt for unusual navigation bars, or minimalist call to action buttons, simply for aesthetic reasons. While aesthetics are important, we would strongly advise you to make your way finding as clear as possible. Making it easy to get to your work is a critical part of getting people to explore more of it.
Easy and intuitive navigation is important for the success of your architectural website as a whole, and it’s crucial when it comes to your online portfolio.