What Architects want when seeking sustainable product information – 3 must-haves for your website.

This is a guest post written by our close friends over at Competitive Advantage who recently completed some research to find out what types of information Architects are looking for when sourcing sustainable products:

Designing with Sustainable Products Research

The architect is probably the most important member of the design team, distilling the requirements and advice of the other members. Recently Competitive Advantage completed research called Designing with Sustainable Products, this looks into how Architects design non-residential sustainable buildings and the information they need from manufacturers.

Despite the problems of the recession, indicators are that sustainability will remain high on the agenda of both government and major clients. Sustainability is no longer a “gimmick” it is part and parcel of product credentials. Our research demonstrates that Architects primarily seek their sustainable product information online (nearly 45%) either across the internet, or on specific  product websites.  Importantly a sizeable chunk of respondents (53%) said they frequently looking at product manufacturers websites for the information they need.

So what are they expecting from your website?

Prove expertise through the use of case studies:

No great surprise here, Architects would like to see case studies. The research demonstrated an overwhelming 40%  of respondents wish to view case studies. Think carefully how you present these, break up the text with images and use video where possible. Our other research, called Construction Media Index, demonstrates that 20% of architects view video and 13% podcast, cementing the idea that a visual format is always a good for designers.

Also provide the product information in a downloadable pdf, so the information can be reviewed and shared with colleagues. And don’t forget to include share buttons for those architects who wish to pass on your product information. Again our other research, Construction Media Index, demonstrates that Architects use twitter regularly, with 38% of respondents using it at least once a day and a further 38% using it several times a day. Other popular social networks include LinkedIn and Facebook, further information on Architect Communication Channels can be found in our Construction Media Index research report for an overview see Slideshare.

Pauley Creative Tip: Ensure case studies focus on problem solving – not on quantities or how prestigious the building was. Architects don’t want your product, they want problems solving.

Does your product REALLY conform to standards? Prove it!

The next most important factor to architects are the products credentials, with 35% of respondents seeking this information. Here it is essential to demonstrate how your sustainable products meet government regulations and standards. Think about Part L compliance, BREEAM, BES6001 and any other proven certification or test data. And it is also important to think outside the box.

Think about other sustainable schemes you can participate in, or indeed how you can provide the product credentials yourself in an easy to understand layout. For inspiration why not see our recent article: how to market your sustainable products – a lesson from those doing it right.

To tie this information together, remember to link to Case studies, demonstrating where the product has been specified before.

Pauley Creative Tip: Avoid ‘greenwashing‘ and using jargon – be honest, legal and truthful. Showing test data is a great way to show innovation and constantly meeting building product performance for strict requirements.

Can Architects find your products when searching online?

Finally, it is just as important to be found wherever Architects are looking for your products. When it comes to SEO (search engine optimisation) and keywords our research demonstrated that the expected phrases are a must, such as ‘Sustainable building products’ and ‘Sustainable building design’ and ‘Sustainable construction materials’. But other search terms to consider are the use of the word ‘Green’ in your phrasing (without making unprovable claims), and also the inclusion of government standards and regulations such as ‘BREEAM’. A full list is provided in the report Designing with Sustainable Products, or indeed you could complete a survey amongst your customer base yourself. And for a full understanding of SEO you could attend the webinar being delivered by Pauley Creative: What does a well optimised building product manufacturers’ website look like?

Pauley Creative Tip: Do a search for your product on Google without using your product brand name. Can you find it on page 1?

Designing with Sustainable Products – more about the research report

Research for “Designing with Sustainable Products” was conducted during June 2012. The report has been developed and written by Competitive Advantage Consultancy Ltd and considers how architects select sustainable products when designing non-residential buildings. The report provides research on the sources of information used by Architects to identify sustainable products; which methodology they most commonly use when designing sustainable buildings; who Architects seek advice from when selecting sustainable products; which sustainable elements Architects regularly use in their designs; How BES 6001 influences their product selection. The report costs £275 + VAT. To learn more about the research and to view a list of contents or purchase a copy visit.

There you have it. Some interesting insights form the research and more reason to ensure you have the right content on your website or in directories to ensure Architects have all the information they need, easily accessible and easy to find too.

Don’t forget to sign up if you are interested in our short 30 minute webinar in a couple of weeks time on ‘How to check if your website is optimised for search engines’. Register here.

About Stuart Dinnie

Stuart has worked in the world of digital marketing for over 15 years. With his measured and planned approach, he has delivered robust digital strategies for construction companies to achieve real business growth. He now heads up the team at Pauley Creative as Managing Director and is leading his team & clients towards digital marketing excellence. He’s worked with over 100 construction clients; helping them on their digital transformation journey, providing sustainable strategies that return year on year incremental growth, delivering award-winning websites and adding value from board level to marketing assistant.

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