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The mistake most architects make in describing themselves

I have to give credit to Alicia Brown who is the founder of New Doors, a niche consultancy specialising in strategic marketing for professional design services firms, for enlightening me about how architects write their About page. She explained that architects tend to mimic other architects when it comes to writing their About page or a description about their practice. Let me give a three examples, from three different practices from around the world who I assume have never met, yet somehow have almost identical descriptions. Note: I’ve removed any of the practice names and paraphrased rather than pointing the finger at anyone.

Three architects.

Three almost identical descriptions.

Architect description #1

[Practice name] is an award winning, inter-disciplinary architecture & design business, experienced in a wide range of built environment skills practiced throughout [country name].

Architect description #2

We are a multi-disciplinary practice known for our highly skilled designers, collaborative process, responsive style and inclusive culture. Our team includes architects, urban designers, planners, interior designers and landscape architects.

Architect description #2

[Practice name] is an award winning architectural practice with a portfolio of beautiful buildings which meet client expectations and represent value for money. Our highly skilled team bring years of experience to the table an to ensure the highest quality projects.

Who would you choose?

Now from these three architects which one would you choose? Can you tell one from the other? Admittedly you’re not going to choose an architect simply from the about page, but my guess is that if you’re a prospective client looking through many different architect’s sites, then these About pages almost indistinguishable. I call this the multidisciplinary, award winning architect who does everything description. Let me break down some of the parts in more detail. Statements like “we have a wide range of built environment skills” doesn’t actually tell me anything. It’s not specific enough. I don’t know if those wide range of skills are BIM or cost control, or community group consultations. If an architect actually lists these types of things and then goes beyond that to explain why these things are important to my project (always thinking from the clients perspective when I say “my”) then the About page starts to differentiate one architect from another. And that leads onto one of the biggest things I’ve learnt about life generally and especially on the web, it’s not about being the best, its about being different. And more than ever now, being honest to yourself is so valuable. No one else can be you, so stop cloning your practice after every other practice. Break free of that thinking and explain to the world what it is that you do, and why you do it that way. If you follow that simple rule you will have created what brand experts call a unique positioning statement.

Search engines and your description / About page

A more technical aspect of descriptions / About pages is how Google reads them (and you should apply this thinking to every piece of text in your site). If you use the term “wide range of skills,” Google has no idea what you’re talking about, much like the reader. If someone searches for “passive design architect” for example, you’re very, very unlikely to show up in search results. I say very because there are one or two very technical reasons why you might, but in 99.9% of cases Google is not going to connect your vague description with a specific search query. Oh, a big thing missing out of all these descriptions is a city or place! If someone is looking for an architect in Seattle what are they going to search for? Seattle Architect.

An example of a better description for an architect

What I’ve done below is write a quick example of a better description / About page for an architect. I’m sure marketing experts could expand and have all sorts of strategies for how you frame yourself, but what i want to illustrate is the keywords that will allow this text to be found by Google, when someone searches for an architect.

“Hi, welcome to John Doe Architects.

Thanks for coming to our site. Our little practice is based in Seattle and we’ve been practicing for about 7 years, which means our training wheels are off, but we still love what we do. The types of architecture we focus on is homesbars and schools (residentialhospitality and education in architect speak). We use fancy programs like Revit so that we can create 3D models with our clients. This makes the design process intuitive, but this technology (sometimes referred to as BIMbuilding information modelling) allows us to almost prototype your project before we build it. This makes the construction way easier, and also eliminates some of the mistakes that used to happen with old school pen and paper drawings. All this makes for a better and more economical project. You’re probably wanting to check out our portfolio of projects, which you can do here .”


 

Avoid mimicking the multidisciplinary, award winning architect who does everything descriptionSummary

  • Explain why you are different and how your process is different
  • Include key words to help Google find your text, such as:
    • Your practice name
    • The terms architecture, architect and design
    • The city or location of your practice
    • The different type of projects you do, eg homes, bars, schools. List them so Google can find them and avoid generalisations (very few people will pick a generalist over a specialist).
    • Other key words specific to architecture and construction, eg BIM, 3D, hill slopes, beach houses, build, construct, etc.

 


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