I’m having a really fun time searching for the perfect web designer for my day job website redesign. I’ve gotten to meet some really great designers and learn a lot about local firms and have seen some really impressive work, both on the front end that visitors use and the back end that only the administrators see. I’ve already learned a lot about what is available to customize back ends these days, and it’s come a long way since we launched our site almost six years ago.
I’m also learning a lot about what a site in the construction industry needs to both function appropriately and stand out in a very traditional and generally conservative industry. What I’ve learned in my time with my company is that our industry tends to take longer to change its ways with respect to strategies surrounding marketing and business development. We took while catching up to other industries in social media, for example, and many many construction and engineering companies also still operate with very basic websites that really just serve as contact pages.
So what’s a girl to do? Well, I started researching outside the construction industry for site ideas that would translate well in our world. I found some things that more creative-types and universities are doing to drive traffic to their sites, become an expert in their fields and highlight the latest and greatest work they’ve created. These are all things we need our site to do. I want the site to be intuitive, have movement but not take forever to load, make visitors want to dig deeper, and become an extension of our company by providing useful information that’s easy to access. I want the website to be our newest, most interesting employee.
Some sites I’ve recently been fawning over in our industry are:
But we definitely want to make our site our own, so you won’t be seeing any copycats, I promise you that!
This process has made us take a closer look at what makes our company tick. We’ve taken a good hard look at who we are and where we are headed through some great strategic planning events. Here are some things I’d recommend you discuss with your cohorts before engaging in any web design/redesign:
1. What is your mission? You need a firm, formal statement, even if it doesn’t appear on your site. Sometimes this is deeply personal to your company, but your site needs to reflect the mission in every way, even if it’s not spelled out in words. Your site should feel like your mission.
2. Who are your people? Your firm represents a group of individuals who come together for eight hours a day to reach a goal. Be realistic about your team and don’t make any promises on your site that your staff can’t or won’t back up.
3. What do you give to your clients? I mean this literally and more philosophically. Your brand is nothing more than the perception that your clients have of you. So if you think you give your clients one thing and they think something totally different, you need to address this and potentially mitigate discrepancies before presenting any hollow claims.
Did I mention how fun this process is? It might sound daunting, but it really is fun. You’ll learn a lot about yourself and your goals. And if you’re not having fun in the process, then you should probably address that too!
In unrelated news, I got my new business cards back from the printer! Thanks Wythken for the awesome and quick job printing!