Three pillars to a great online presence

Western Architecture Principles

Yesterday I visited New Zealand’s first 6 Green Star Office – Geyser, in Auckland.

Visited Patterson Architects' Geyser user green building. Nice courtyard!

A post shared by Nick Allen (@nickwallen) on

Geyser is created as 6 separate parts with courtyards to let natural light into each area. It has a thermal chimney façade that heats and cools the building. It does this by circulating fresh air through an outer layer that can open and close in response to the ambient temperature. It has a rainwater collection system and an automated “stacker” car park that make use of the limited space underneath the building. In all an impressive building and in my eyes – it looks wonderful.

The building and its architect think of a wider audience than just tenants, addressing how it fits and improves the lives of the community around it.

What does this have to do with digital and online marketing – or social networks for that matter?

Last night I watched the architect Andrew Patterson talk a little bit more about the project as part of his TEDx presentation. He talked of the origins of Western Architecture Principles and how his buildings embody them.

These principles form a tripod that supports great architecture and I would argue serve well as points for a good online presence.
Western Architecture Principles

Attitude – Utilitas – fit for purpose

Use the right tools for the right job.

  • Customers or clients should immediately see how your website brings them value and meets their needs. Make it all about them.
  • When creating a new website have clear goals around the user experience and what you ultimately want to accomplish. Strip out distractions and ambiguity in user journeys.
  • If you want to blog, install a blogging platform. Don’t hack your content management system (CMS) or retrofit a forum as a workaround. If you want to sell things online implement a fully fledged eCommerce platform or leverage one run by experts in that area.
  • Use a CMS that befits the scale of your website and ensure you support it with adequate hardware. WordPress is fine for blogging but not for running Amazon or eBay. End users are the main focus of a website, but a good architect and web build thinks of longevity and maintenance as well.
  • Know your audience on each social network you use. Covering live events is Twitter’s space and photography looks fantastic on Google plus for example.

Concept – Firmitas – permanency

  • Single page websites or empty websites don’t instil confidence. Show that your website is robust and in for the long haul.
  • Ensure you have depth of content, products and services on your website and a stream of future content ready for the first few months. Content that addresses as many buyer personas and stages of the purchase cycle as possible.
  • If you’re building a community consider renting a crowd or launching in beta. Yelp, before launching in a new country, hire people to rate and recommend local businesses. That way the first real users see value from day one in being part of the community.

Communication – Venustas – as beautiful as the natural world

  • The concept for a building is that it should delight more than the natural world it is taking away. This isn’t a push to Skeuomorph design, rather that your website should be a delight to use.
  • If you can purchase online it should be super simple, far less stressful than standing at a counter waiting.
  • Time spent in your networks should delight more than competing TV channels and offline experiences.
  • Your audience should be excited to see your next alert, push notification or email in their inbox because it’s providing value they don’t get elsewhere. That value may be insights or knowledge to make their lives better but could equally be entertainment.

The combination of these three pillars should always support the end goal of delighting your audiences. Be they clients, employees or the community.

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