Should We Include A People Section In Our AEC Firm Website?

Come On In

Hav­ing a “Peo­ple” sec­tion on your web­site is essen­tial. Peo­ple do busi­ness with peo­ple they know. So it con­tin­ues to sur­prise me that there is any ques­tion about includ­ing your peo­ple on your web­site. AEC mar­ket­ing is built on rela­tion­ships. While client prospects can have a rela­tion­ship with your brand, this best occurs after an intro­duc­tion by your peo­ple. In this dig­i­tal age, prospects want a human con­nec­tion before con­sid­er­ing hir­ing your firm.

Includ­ing Peo­ple on your web­site inspir­ers a lot of ques­tions. In this post, I’ll answer those I’m asked most fre­quent­ly.

Who should we include in our Peo­ple sec­tion?
Those in your firm with client con­tact. Typ­i­cal­ly this means Project Man­agers and above, plus every­one in Mar­ket­ing and Busi­ness Devel­op­ment.

What if these peo­ple leave our firm?
Then you take them off your web­site using your con­tent man­age­ment sys­tem. This is trick­i­er if you have group pho­tos. If the group pho­to is of 4 or more peo­ple, and one of them leaves, then keep the pho­to. After all, the per­son leav­ing did work at the firm at the time of the pho­to.

Won’t our com­peti­tors steal our best employ­ees?
Your com­peti­tors already know who your best employ­ees are. See­ing your staff on your web­site isn’t going to make them any more desir­able. Your employ­ees are already on LinkedIn. They should also be vis­i­ble in the indus­try by devel­op­ing rela­tion­ships. Keep­ing employ­ees off your web­site to pre­vent them from leav­ing the firm is a myth. Try­ing to hide staff from com­pet­i­tive preda­to­ry poach­ing does more harm than good.

Should we include people’s pho­tos?
Yes. Human beings like to look peo­ple in the eyes to get to know them. Adding a face to a biog­ra­phy makes that per­son real, more authen­tic and approach­able when a prospec­tive client sees that per­son at a net­work­ing event. Nobody expects your staff to be super­mod­els, so don’t wor­ry about peo­ple being them pho­to­genic enough.

People section on an AEC Firm Website

Cor­po­rate head­shot or casu­al fri­day pho­tos?
Both. Pro­vide sev­er­al pho­tos to com­mu­ni­cate a person’s diver­si­ty. Ulti­mate­ly, pho­to style depends on the cul­ture of your firm. Or even more impor­tant­ly, the cul­ture of your tar­get clients.

What about video?
If a pho­to is a thou­sand words, then video is 10,000. Video is a pow­er­ful way to com­mu­ni­cate what some­one will be like to work with. It pro­vides a great oppor­tu­ni­ty to tell that person’s sto­ry. Not every­one is com­fort­able speak­ing on cam­era like Ron Bur­gundy. But there are oth­er options. Try voice-over with project pho­tos or favorite things com­bined as a slideshow. Stal­wart PR, clev­er­ly used video of employ­ees talk­ing about the strengths of their co-work­ers. Think video tes­ti­mo­ni­al, but instead of com­ing from a client (which isn’t bad either), the praise comes from co-work­ers.

Should we include a bio?
I pre­fer a short intro­duc­tion to the per­son with the abil­i­ty to “Read More” or down­load a PDF Bio. The down­load can be help­ful for team­ing sce­nar­ios. Sim­ply list­ing a person’s achieve­ments like a resume is dull. I rec­om­mend a sto­ry with more of a nar­ra­tive arc to make an emo­tion­al con­nec­tion. Anoth­er tech­nique I’ve used effec­tive­ly is an inter­view for­mat like you’d see in a mag­a­zine. You include cus­tom ques­tions per per­son, and fea­ture their best answers (as seen below in the Ran­dall Lamb site we designed).

Q&A For People Section

What should we call this sec­tion?
Call it some­thing con­sis­tent with the cul­ture of your firm. You can be clever, but not cryp­tic. It should be easy for vis­i­tors to find this sec­tion as part of your top-lev­el nav­i­ga­tion. I’ve seen this sec­tion titled as Peo­ple, Team, Staff, Lead­ers, About Us (I’d reserve this title for about the firm), Lead­er­ship, Tal­ent, Man­age­ment, etc.

Hav­ing a Peo­ple sec­tion on your web­site is anoth­er great tool for prospects to get to know, like, and trust your peo­ple, and thus, your firm.

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