To keep ourselves from falling into a creative rut and churning out the same designs on repeat, we turn awesome work of others across the country for inspiration. As we kick-off each project, we review cool sites in the industry to learn what trends the client likes and dislikes so we can produce a product that is uniquely theirs.
It’s been a pleasant surprise to watch more and more well-designed websites pop up in the construction industry. It’s always been a forward-thinking industry, one that is continually finding innovative ways to improve construction methods. But, and I mean this in the nicest way, for the longest time it’s been a bit behind the curve, creatively speaking. Now more than ever, construction companies are showing off their value of online marketing, focusing largely on developing attractive and functional websites. They are embracing many recent web design trends and spinning them into a look of their own:
Starting from the top, quite literally, the first trend in construction websites is implementation of extremely simple navigation. Most showcase their logo in the upper left corner and then display the navigation links right-aligned and nestled up at the top of the page.
The links are kept short and sweet, starting with the home page and also including links to projects, about, careers, and contact pages. Most other pages are displayed in drop-down menus. This styling keeps the navigation from feeling overly cluttered, and it makes it easy for visitors to get where they want to go.
Some industries are turning away from the convention of maintaining home and contact page links in their main navigation. However, in this particular industry, I feel like sticking to the conventions of traditional web design aid in viewer experience. Construction sites need to be easy to use by multiple generations. Staying with tradition keeps visitors feeling in control and gives them more confidence when using your site. We’ve all dug through websites where you literally have to unearth the phone number to be able to contact the person you need. Customer relationships begin the moment they stumble upon your site. Construction sites are setting the tone by allowing visitors to figure out how to contact quickly and navigate without anguish.
Sticky navigation, a.k.a. sticky nav, is a very technical term we use around our office to describe a navigation bar that stays put at the top of the browser as you scroll down the page. The rest of the information on the page appears to slide behind the sticky nav bar. As pages are trending to longer scrolling formats, sticky nav is like a navigational teleporter! Viewers can hop to another page in your site without having to scroll all the way back up to the top. This is a trend my clients love, especially because when properly implemented it also includes your logo stuck to the upper left corner continually branding your company.
I think there are some pros and cons to navigational teleportation. When visitors are forced to scroll to top, they pass your marketing message again before they can jump ship. Something could catch their eye that didn’t before — and it keeps them on the page longer, which increases the chance of engagement.
As a user-first developer, I’m pumped the construction industry is embracing user experience over marketing tricks. Ultimately you want people use your website without giving it any more thought than they would using a coffee cup. The trend towards good navigation sets the tone for good customer relationships. You’re sending a clear message: “We’re not going to make you go through a crappy and painful experience viewing our website — we’re going to make it easy, just like the rest of our relationship.”
Construction company home pages are action-packed, using a barrage of eye candy including: color, photos, icons, subtle animation, and video. The combination establishes an ambience and a feeling of wow for visitors at first glance. Let’s look at a few of those trending techniques in depth:
Construction companies are definitely embracing the wow effect of drone footage. I am personally a huge fan. It has a powerful visual effect and introduces people to the process and sheer magnitude of the work the industry accomplishes in a way few other methods can.
Drone footage varies dramatically from site to site. Some is filmed at night or in time lapse (which is particularly dramatic), some during the day, others are color treated black and white or treated with a color overlay. Really, any and all implementation of drone footage is impressive and does a great job of introducing viewers to a company. I may have to go buy a drone myself just for fun!
If a construction website isn’t sporting drone footage, it’s probably touting a gigantic image welcoming visitors to the home page. Large imagery can also set the tone for the rest of the page. While the home page trend is to have larger imagery, the majority of the secondary pages (about, contact, etc) usually have shortened header images. Regardless of size, the industry is trending towards quality photography to start off each page of the website.
When done well, subtle animation feels classy and flashy all at the same time. Construction sites are using animation to call attention to elements, dial in statistics, entertain, and bump up the wow factor (http://walkerconstructioninc.com/). They are also using animations to increase the value of their user interface by sharing additional information about projects on rollover (https://miloconstruction.com/) or simplifying the display of what otherwise would feel like an overwhelming amount of information.
In so many industries, the interior pages of a site are treated like the forgotten leftovers of last night’s dinner; home pages are action-packed main courses and the subsequent pages are languishing in tupperware at the back of the fridge. But here’s the deal, the internal pages of a website also display in Google search results, and they serve as topic-specific landing pages to welcome visitors to your site and learn about the services you offer.
The construction industry deserves a huge high five for trending towards page equality. I’m finding pages filled with images and eye-pleasing formatting designed to pull visitors down the page and encourage them to take action before leaving the site. Some pages pull visitors into the project section of the site, others offer downloadable content, and most (https://www.hollandcs.com/) encourage people to apply for jobs.
As traditional hiring practices continue to shift online, construction companies are turning to the web to recruit. The majority of construction sites give their careers section prominence with an easy-to-locate careers page link on the main navigation.
Gone are the careers pages of yesteryear with a short paragraph and a link to the email of your HR person. Well-designed landing pages are on trend. Companies showcase well-lit photos of employees hard at work and share testimonials, benefits, and a list of jobs available. Online applications are prevalent as well as example career paths and unique landing pages for specialized positions, internships, and recent graduates.
Construction websites have decreased their use of icons and retired the glowing white stock photo people in favor of photos of their own crew. Can I just say, “Thank goodness!” and I hope other industries find it inspiring and follow suit.
Using authentic imagery more effectively brands your company. It creates human interest on your pages and guards against getting lost in the shuffle of glowing stock-photo-riddled sites. But most importantly, using real photos of your employees illustrates how you value the human beings who work for your company. I have no doubt this trend is a direct result of the effort to recruit new hires online. It’s easier to see yourself working for a company when you see the faces of real people at their tasks.
The value of proof of concept in the construction industry shines through as sites trend toward offering well-functioning project sections. They’re not all called “projects” — some are called “portfolio,” “jobs,” or “what we do.” The layout however, is strikingly similar: a grid of impressive imagery sortable by industry, type and/or location. This investment in functionality once again speaks of the industry’s value to offer potential clients a positive first impression by taking the time to anticipate how visitors want to use the information on the site and providing them a way to easily access it.
While construction websites are certainly communicating an in-depth message, they are not particularly verbose. Most websites aren’t sporting paragraph upon paragraph of salesy content. The landing pages break down copy into concise, easy-to-consume segments and allow people who want to dig deeper to click and read more. Even on third-level pages, content is well-balanced with subtitles, photos, and bulleted lists for easily skimmable and consumable content.
The trends in the construction industry are very much inline with those of other industries. The elements are just executed a little differently. In the end, when balanced, these trends produce a classy, easy-to-use, yet creative feeling website that displays how forward-thinking these companies really are. when balanced, these trends produce a classy, easy-to-use, yet creative feeling website that displays how forward-thinking these companies really are.
Monica is the creative force and founder of MayeCreate. She has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with an emphasis in Economics, Education and Plant Science from the University of Missouri. Monica possesses a rare combination of design savvy and technological know-how. Her clients know this quite well. Her passion for making friends and helping businesses grow gives her the skills she needs to make sure that each client, or friend, gets the attention and service he or she deserves.
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