Architects’ websites: video

12 October, 2015


As a trend for websites, video has been around a few years and relies on full screen or almost full screen with a few words overlaid on top of it.

An architect who has embraced video in a big way is the Hawkins Brown site. Quality-wise it’s top-notch. Some of the sequencing is really good but it’s too long (2 minutes 50 seconds) and I am left wondering what is the point?

If you’re Airbnb or PayPal or one of the others that use (looping) video, it’s a single call to action (“book now” or “send money now”) and it’s also about establishing an emotional connection with the user. In other words, video has a dual purpose as well as being fun to watch

If you’re an architect, your sell is more subtle. A video like the Hawkins Brown one is a huge investment to make, but it’s a bit like being at a party on a boat – I felt a bit trapped – and I also felt quite exhausted. If you watch it, you’ll see what I mean.

But video is here to stay so a lot more architects will be persuaded to use it on their sites, and not just to show their buildings but also to show themselves. Of course, there should be somewhere on the site for staff and a bit about who they are but  keep it brief and think about the  target audience.

My thoughts on video:

  • Ask what your video is actually doing. It needs to serve a real purpose or help people understand your work.
  • Don’t have videos that play automatically without the users consent, especially if those videos have audio- it’s guaranteed to make them leave the site and never return.
  • The biggest drawback of video is loading times. If the video doesn’t load immediately, people get bored and leave.
  • Have a sound “off” button or consider silence.
  • Instead of a long video, think about having 10-30 second loops which are much more engaging. I don’t know any architect who has this on its site but I will keep looking.