The role of the corporate website in A/E/C marketing has greatly changed. While it was once “good enough” just to have a website, today firms are realizing that a website is their most valuable marketing asset, and should be the hub of their marketing and business development.
Marketing has changed dramatically in the last few years. In fact, a recent study from Adobe found that 76% of marketers believe that marketing has changed more in the past two years, than the previous 50. Needless to say, a lot of those changes revolve around digital marketing, as well as web design and development. So if it’s been 2 or more years since your last website redesign, or if your last redesign was done without the proper strategic approach, there’s a good chance your website may show some or all of these 9 warning signs.
1. Your website looks outdated or unprofessional
Research has found that visitors will form an opinion about your website (and thus your firm) in as little as 50 milliseconds. And think about this: your firm’s website probably makes more first impressions, gives more introductions and has more follow-up interactions with prospects and clients than your business development staff and principals do.
So when visitors land on your website, what impression does it make? What message does it convey to prospects and clients? Does it convey a modern, forward-thinking firm at the top of its industry? Or a firm that’s behind the times?
2. Your website is difficult or confusing to navigate
Intuitive navigation is absolutely critical for a modern website. In fact, 76% of consumers in a study said the most important factor in the design of a website is that “the website makes it easy for me to find what I want.” It’s not unusual for A/E/C firms to overcomplicate their menus and navigation, leaving users struggling to quickly and easily find what they are looking for. But based on their experiences with other websites in other industries, your clients and prospects have come to expect an intuitive, efficient web experience. Does your website make it easy or difficult for users to find what they’re looking for?
3. Your website no longer accurately reflects your firm or business strategy
A/E/C firms are always changing. Between the economy, regulatory changes, mergers and acquisitions and increased competition, firms have had to adjust and adapt to be better positioned for financial success. So has your firm grown or evolved over the past few years? Have you added new services, markets or subject-matter expertise? Have you restructured the organization to bring more focus or emphasis on certain services or markets? If so, there’s a good chance your current website isn’t aligned with your business strategy and no longer accurately reflects your firm.
4. Your website functions more as an online brochure, than a business development tool
Many A/E/C websites function much like a virtual brochure—with basic boilerplate firm information, project profiles, principal bios and photos and a laundry list of services they offer and the markets they operate in. Does your website act more like a tradeshow booth, than the business developer working the booth? Does it generate new leads and contacts?
A/E/C firms should be using their website as a platform for thought leadership and a resource for business development and lead generation. And that means it needs to be planned, designed, written and developed with content marketing and lead generation at the core.
5. Your website lacks client-focused site architecture and content strategy
It’s rather customary for A/E/C firms to base the structure and content of their website around their internal organizational chart. But many times, clients and prospects don’t necessarily think of your services, markets and offerings the way you do. This builds on the “brochure mentality” described above.
Many firms have not given strategic considerations for their content and how their website should best be organized for visitors. Instead, the organization is structured around an internal view and the content is company-centric. However, your web content should focus on meeting your target audiences’ needs, answering their questions and providing them the information they need throughout the various stages of the client lifecycle.
6. It’s difficult to manage and update website content
Is your marketing team often frustrated by their ability (or lack of ability) to make changes and updates to your website? Static (not content managed) websites leave many companies with their hands tied if they don’t have someone in-house who knows code. Because of that, many firms have already moved to websites built on content management systems (CMS). However, not all CMS websites are created equal!
The ability to update and make changes to a CMS website varies greatly, not only on the particular CMS platform (e.g. WordPress, Drupal, etc.) but also on how the CMS “theme” was developed. And some websites leverage inexpensive, “premium” themes that are notoriously difficult to manage due to their less specialized and universal nature. But a CMS and the theme it uses, should be developed and fully customized for your particular website, allowing you to be able to update and control virtually every word and image on your website—easily and quickly.
7. Your website is not mobile-friendly
We now live in the age of mobile and multi-screen, with people using a variety of devices—including smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops and TVs—to access and view the Internet. And with the proliferation of mobile, today’s web users have come to expect pleasant online experiences regardless of what device they happen to be using. So having a website that works well on nearly every device is critical. Responsive design provides a viable solution and has become a “must have” for today’s websites. So if your website wasn’t designed with mobile in mind, it’s definitely a sign that a redesign is in order.
8. Your website lacks a blog or the blog isn’t integrated
As a cornerstone of content marketing, your blog also should be an integral component of your firm’s website. Your blog can build thought leadership, fuel SEO, propel your social media marketing, drive website traffic and help to generate and nurture leads. So you should not only have a blog, but your blog should also be integrated into your overall website design and navigation, as well as cross promoted in various sections throughout your website.
9. Your website traffic and analytics are disappointing
Website analytics are a great way to determine the effectiveness of your current website. Is your website traffic down or has it plateaued? Does your website have a high bounce-rate? Is a visitor’s average time on site extremely short? Do you have a low average page views per visit?
These can all be indicators that your current website and content are not working. There are many factors that contribute to these issues, including everything from content strategy, SEO, user-interface design, bad code, too many plugins and other design and development factors that should be addressed with a redesign.
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A modern A/E/C website needs to do more than simply exist, it should make a positive and impactful impression on visitors, convey your firm’s differentiating attributes and serve as a virtual member of your business development team. If your firm’s website shows any or all of these 9 warning signs, it’s probably time to consider a strategic, marketing-focused website redesign.