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Technology Aids Architects To Expand Their Professional Footprint With the help of these platforms they have the ability to reach out to prospective clients across the globe and provide world-class services through the net in a specific field.

By Navneet Malhotra

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Traditionally, knowledge and skills of the trade were passed down from family to family. Every generation acquired additional expertise through a tedious process of trial and error. Learning and growth was restricted and determined by both 'exposure' and 'opportunity', while change was experienced at a very gradual pace.

Since the dawn of computers, all this has started to change. With increasing digital connectivity, the words 'exposure' and 'opportunity' are not limited by realms of our heretic lineage or academic knowledge, not even by geographic boundaries of cities and countries.

In the last decade, this has shifted heavily towards our ability to network and address large audiences simultaneously instead of meeting individuals in the comfort of our office. This digital wave is affecting all industries alike, and architecture is one of them. It has also created exciting new opportunities for deserving younger names to project and amplify their works and gain over old school, deep pocket marketing strategies of established brands. The only task at hand it to discover these platforms and understand, as architects, how we can make optimum use of it.

Presence on the right platform is of crucial importance, and thus a bit of foresight and understanding of discovery platforms is required. One has to keep in mind that your online presence is felt by the target audience who you want to cater to. For instance, while we founded, we aimed at being a one-stop destination for home décor. Discovery platforms have a very high success rate and present a plethora of niche opportunities to professionals. With the help of these platforms they have the ability to reach out to prospective clients across the globe and provide world-class services through the net in a specific field.

Networking and finding opportunities on the web can be simpler by addressing some basic pointers.

How will I increase my web presence?

Creating your personal website 'was' and 'is' a good beginning but getting it seen by a larger audience is much more important. Avoid making a website that needs tech support to change, alter or even updates.

Showcasing your work on social media accounts is also a good choice for architects and designers. Just make sure you don't sprinkle 'personal' comments and 'light hearted humor' if you choose to display your professional work along with a personal profile here. Avoid replicating this common mistake and start by creating two completely different profile pages. One for personal use [family and friends] while other could be restricted only for your official profile and projects. Use smart links to attract prospective clients towards your profile page or your website.

Visibility boosters

Join industry centric discovery platforms and discussion forums. This helps significantly if the platform connects you with prospective clients scouting for ideas and professionals as well as other players in the industry. Platforms that focus within the fraternity are also important to keep you abreast with news and information but it is platforms that connect homeowners with professionals that get you maximum mileage.

Rating and reviews

Once you have uploaded your profile on discovery platforms, don't treat them like your existing 'static' website. These interactive gateways work best as a two-way communication between you and the prospective client. Boost your visibility by frequently curating, updating your project pictures and give quick and accurate response to every query to keep the user engaged. Some good discovery websites even provide detail analytics about user action on your profile page. Study this critical information carefully to improve and evolve your profile.

Today, using online reviews and rating is an imperative action when selecting a product on the net. This simple truth is often forgotten when we consider our own offer of services to prospective clients on the net. Use this feature to encourage clients to post positive response when possible as provided on some discovery platforms to improve your conversion rate.

Define your services clearly

Make sure you mark your services very clearly. Identify what you 'do' and 'don't do' clearly. This saves time and avoids undesirable poor reviews on account of mismatch expectations and surprises.

Complex trap

Often designers get trapped by negative thoughts like- "is my work good enough" or "my designs are unique and would get copied". Neither of these thoughts helps. In both cases you would isolate yourself and miss the larger gain. It is important to get the word out. Image security system employed on some discovery platforms is much better than your personal website, which can address your issues.

Delivering services online

Simple measures would help iron out a large majority of avoidable experiences stemming from poor user engagement.

  • Clarity at the start - Provide a detailed list of deliverable along with all the services, their milestone and related payment schedule. Connect this data with online project tracker to help track the progress of work. Don't shy away from adding 'exclusions' in the list.
  • Coordination - Create 'WhatsApp' group between client, contractor, sub-consultant and your lead architect in the firm at the start of each project. Step in and moderate only when required. Everyone concerned with the project would be connected on the move.
  • Meetings - Create provisions for and encourage online meetings. Save time and energy, making it ideal for online customers.
  • Site supervision - Monitor remote projects using smart phone with periodic photo documentation where each image is embedded with GPS coordinates, date and time. Images can be uploaded by any of the concerned members onto the online group for easy monitoring.
Navneet Malhotra

Co-founder and Chief of Alliances, Renomania

Navneet is the Co-Founder and the Head of Alliances at Renomania, India's leading home design discovery platform.

Navneet holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from ‘School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi and an M.Tech. Degree in ‘Construction Engineering and Management’ from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Delhi. He is a visiting faculty at the School of Planning and Architecture and is also a leading voice on architecture and design with regular contributions to newspapers and magazines.

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