Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been compiling a database of architectural projects that could possibly be featured in this magazine. We searched through the websites of various architectural firms in the country eager to see what amazing structures lay waiting for us.
This search led to us multiple websites, some really blew us away, some fell short of our expectations and others left us angry. Which led me to think, in this day and age, where we transact more money online than through bank tellers, why were most architectural firms not maximizing on this platform?
According to the law that governs architects and quantity surveyors, Architects and Quantity Surveyors Act CAP 525, and the practice notes developed by the Board of Registration for Architects and Quantity Surveyors (BORAQS), professionals are somewhat hindered from using websites to display their work.
Section 45 (3) (e) of the Act states, and I quote, “In particular and not exclusively and without derogation of the powers of the Board under paragraphs (1) and (2) of this bylaw, an architect or quantity surveyor may be deemed by the Board to be guilty of unprofessional conduct or professional misconduct if he – advertise or publicly offers his services by means of circulars or otherwise or make paid announcements in the press except to publish in the press and notify his correspondents by post once of any change of address, opening of a new firm or branch office or alterations in the partnership or constitution of a firm”
That’s the closest that any article comes to in addressing the issue of websites. The word ‘otherwise’ will be left to your own personal interpretation.
What would anyone searching for an architect online hope to get from their website? The moment you give out your card and ask the potential client to check out your website, are you confident that your website will impress them enough for them to call you for a meeting?
The first section should be about you or your company. This part of the website ought to do a proper introduction of your firm. The people behind the firm and a brief history of it. It helps in creating trust between you and the potential client.
Another section should inform the visitor of what services you offer. For potential developers, it would be an added advantage to walk them through your process from the initial design stages to the final handover. You need to give a comprehensive detail of what you do. You also need to give a basic workflow of all the areas that you cover.
The most important section of the website should detail the projects that you have undertaken. This section is commonly referred to as the portfolio. The mistake that most firms make is the assumption that posting renders is enough for a portfolio. And therein lies the downfall of so many websites. A portfolio has to be a good balance of graphics and information.
The first part of the website is meant to create trust between the potential client and yourself. The second part, now having all the attention of your potential client, is meant to inform them of what service you can be to them. The third section, the proverbial hook line and sinker, should have the client calling you in a matter of minutes. In this section you should showcase your previous works.
An important element of the portfolio section of a website is the photos. You can never have enough photos in your portfolio. Display as many good quality, high resolution images. It would also be an added advantage to display photos of a project from the initial stage to completion or the current status of the works. In addition to the photos, it is important to have some additional information about a project. This information should be displayed alongside the images and should contain, among other items, name of the project, concept behind the design, scope of work you carried out in the project, caption of the photo explaining the parts displayed, project location, project size, project costs and commencement and completion dates for the works. It is important to also have a contacts page showing all your addresses, physical and postal. In addition, you may include a google maps showing the location of your office and a contact form which people can use to quickly send you an email without having to log into their email browsers.
Other sections which are important but optional include a blog where you can give insights on the industry, a CSR page that enables you to display what other projects you get involved in besides your work, links to your social media pages and a page showing some news, events and advertisements for jobs and vacancies.
Finally it would be to your advantage to invest in a proper modern website platform. With this information you can now hopefully transform you cobweb laden website into a piece of captivating beauty.
The author is an architectural assistant and visualizer at Architecture Kenya Media Limited.