Transforming your website into a comprehensive resource for architects.

We began our examination of how to become the commercial architectural firm standard with an appreciation of the importance that the digital world holds for your company’s success. Your website and supporting digital destinations like social media and sample sites, are more than marketing elements. They are critical reference sources for architects and designers, with four out of five architects relying on manufacturers’ websites for information on trends in products and materials.

As a manufacturer, therefore, you should think about expanding your website to include the widest possible variety of information that would be helpful in persuading architects and designers to specify your product or material. In addition to the website content described earlier, the following content elements can help to transform a standard website into a website for becoming the standard.

Case studies: An architect can gain insights and inspiration from case studies, and your website is the perfect place to publish them. These accounts of real-world challenges that architects faced, the products or materials you developed to meet those challenges, and the results that architects or designers obtained as a result can be developed as individual webpages. Include photos, diagrams and even videos that demonstrate how your product was applied and integrated into the design. Then, provide links to these pages in your social media posts, emails and online marketing brochures to support descriptions of your products and their benefits.

Case studies bolster your credibility, explaining how a product has been implemented successfully. They can serve as long-lasting marketing elements to be included with everything from proposals to trade show exhibits.

Blogs: blog is the editorial page of your website. Blogs usually are written under the name of one person and draw on his or her experiences and opinions. For building product manufacturers, a website’s blog content can provide opportunities to talk about a product in a more personalized fashion than in other types of marketing materials. You could reveal why the product was created, the internal back-and-forth about features, as well as what architects were telling you that led to the product’s consideration in the first place. You can relate pertinent details about how you manufacture the product or material and stories of reactions to the product by your architect clients. In short, a blog is a useful way to humanize your products and their applications.

CEUs: Continuing education units are more than educational resources; they represent a brand’s commitment to the industry’s growth. When you use your website to promote upcoming lunch and learns, product knowledge sessions, webinars and other learning events, be sure to highlight the CEU hours that are associated with them. By offering CEUs, you can position yourself as a thought leader, drawing architects into a learning journey that, while educational, subtly promotes your brand. You then  also can follow up with them.

Product pages are a primary resource for your customers.

On your website, you will want to post pages that provide comprehensive information about each of your products or families of products. Include a description of the product, how it differs from previous versions and from competitors, basic technical information and how to order the product—preferably online, through the website. For some products, you may also want to include a frequently-asked-questions (FAQ) section to answer common inquiries about the product.

While these are the basics of a product page, you also should consider the following enhancements that will help prompt the architect to specify your product or material.

Product availability and lead times: Reliable product availability and delivery are linchpins in project planning. Architects work on deadlines, and often the products they specify are those that they feel most confidently will be available when needed.

Dynamic information on inventory of the product, if applicable, and typical delivery schedules will help ensure project continuity and timely completion. Knowing lead times ensures architects can synchronize project timelines, avoiding delays and promoting seamless integration. It also allows architects to allocate resources confidently and coordinate with other stakeholders, ensuring smooth project execution.

Warranty: A robust warranty underlines a brand’s faith in its product’s longevity and performance. It assures architects and designers of the product’s quality, reducing potential future liabilities that always are one of their chief concerns.

Publish relevant specifics of your warranties and a general description of how to make claims to help architects feel that you will partner with them to resolve any issues that may arise. Also, in introducing warranty information, it’s important to talk about the health of your company—how many years you’ve been in business, the geographic and industry reach of your products and your plans for the future. Having a warranty on commercial roofing material for 30 years is little comfort if your clients are uncertain whether you’ll still be around in five.

Color: A diverse color palette on your product page offers architects a chance to contemplate creative ways to address the canvas of their project. It provides them with the freedom to experiment, align with project themes, and create unique, memorable spaces. Because shades may not always be reproduced faithfully on the architect’s screen, be sure your color images are of the highest quality and definition. Always offer a way for architects to receive a free physical sample of your color array, either through a sample website or through a sample box that you mail them. If your product colors suggest trends  or launch what you believe will be a new trend, highlight those colors and briefly explain their relevance to help the architect apply them creatively.

Texture/Finish: Diverse textures and finishes enrich the tactile and visual experiences of a space. They enable architects to create environments that evoke specific feelings, from luxury to minimalism or rustic to contemporary, allowing them to fit materials to their vision.

Showing images of your products applied with various textures and finishes may help inspire the architect to use your material in new ways to meet new objectives. For example, mirrored finishes or textures that match those of the surrounding landscape can literally reflect and reinforce a sense of community in a structure.  

Of course, textures can only be suggested on a computer screen; so, as with colors, collecting all the available textures and finishes in a physical sample is essential for communicating the uniqueness of your materials. When you distribute the sample, follow up online with an email containing links to your case studies for that product’s applications and related product pages.

Installation Guides: Detailed and clear documentation showcases a brand’s thoroughness and commitment to user ease. From installation guides that ensure correct product application to warranty information that offers post-purchase assurance, each piece of content fortifies an architect’s confidence in specifying the product. Comprehensive support documentation emphasizes a holistic approach to product design, delivery, and aftercare.

Include videos with your installation guides that demonstrate the install process and mistakes to avoid. The videos also can contain testimonials from architects and contractors on the ease of installation and the value of the warranty.

Images or videos of completed installation projects will help show what the finished project should look like and some creative ways the product has been applied and installed.

Comparison Guide: By presenting the product’s features alongside those of competitors, architects can discern the product’s unique benefits and make evidence-based decisions. This also provides architects with an at-a-glance understanding, saving time during the specification process.

Gain a clear comprehension of your competitors’ products and, in the comparison guide, bullet-point specifically how your product is superior to the others. Solicit input from your clients regarding the advantages of your product from their perspective; they may uncover competitive benefits in the way they apply your product that you have overlooked.

Testing Data: Testing data offers empirical evidence of a product’s performance, durability, and reliability, ensuring it meets the architects requirements. Additionally, architects can ensure that the product adheres to industry standards and regulations, streamlining the approval process.

You can gain particular attention by providing evidence of your product’s testing performance under difficult conditions, which might range from wind and fire to ice, snow and other loads. Architects can’t afford to design buildings, bridges or treatment plants for ideal conditions; they need to know that your product will perform to expectations during all the challenges their completed project will encounter.

3 Part Spec: The 3 part spec is a standard format for furnishing architects with a detailed specification, covering all necessary product aspects for integration into design documents. The three parts are general, product and execution.

General includes such i0nformation as related section numbers in the spec book, along with such 0submittals as drawings and product data. The product section deals with the product’s quality, finishes, manufacturing requirements and the like. Execution refers to installation or construction requirements.

This standardized format allows architects to effortlessly include the product in their project documentation and ensures everyone involved in a project is on the same page.

Technical Documents: Technical documents offer in-depth insights into product features, installation processes and maintenance, ensuring architects have a comprehensive understanding. They help architects make certain that the product is installed and maintained correctly, guaranteeing optimal performance.

Create a Technical Documents section on your website and provide links to those documents on your product pages. You also can link  to the relevant documents from your product-related blog posts and case studies.

Environmental Impact: The eco-friendliness of buildings using your product or material is most widely judged by the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) rating system. Your product as applied by architects can achieve LEED certification by earning points for adhering to prerequisites and credits that address carbon, energy, water, waste, transportation, materials, health and indoor environmental quality. Points are awarded at the Silver, Gold and Platinum levels. (Other international building standards that consider environmental and/or wellbeing aspects of buildings include BREEAM [Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method] and WELL.)

When architects know that your product or material has played a substantial role in helping structures gain LEED certification, they are more likely to specify it as the firm standard. So, be sure to point out your contributions to LEED certifications in your case studies and on your product pages. Also, post written or video testimonials from architects on ways your product or material have made achieving a high LEED rating easier.

Gain recognition through an expansive online brand. 

Whether your products are new to commercial architecture or well-established, your website should be the foundation for building an extensive information resource for architects. When they see the comprehensiveness, detail and ease of use of your site, their estimation of your brand may soar. Manufacturing a well-respected and frequently referenced brand online can help achieve the ultimate goal of becoming and remaining the commercial architectural firm standard.