Is your site built to last?

Insights gained from the UK’s top 10 construction contractors’ websites

If a website isn't built on core foundations, it falls apart like a poorly-constructed building. Each one needs intuitive user experience (UX) design, clear navigation and engaging content to work. Without these building blocks in place, a website will deliver poor online experiences that frustrate users and drive them to abandon their visit.

To shed some light on how the construction industry fares against these pillars, we’ve compared the digital performance of the sector’s leading contractors. Check out our observations and insights below.

Put mobile first

Any marketer worth their weight knows that mobile is the future. It was good to see that seven out of the ten sites reviewed were mobile-friendly, meaning they're responding to customer needs and surviving ‘mobilegeddon’.

But it’s not all good news. The remainder were unprepared and taking a hit – and in some cases those who have responsive sites fall short when it came to the fine details, like positioning links far enough apart to enable touch-based interaction.

We think there needs to be a shakeup in the industry, where mobile is put first as a platform and content is readdressed accordingly.

Simplify your navigation

Multiple options within a confusing hierarchy will lead users to go somewhere else. The same goes for online navigation, which needs to be simple, intuitive and descriptive to guide users online.

Nine out of the ten websites had more than five sections in their primary navigation, which creates a confusing first impression for users landing on the homepage. Kier found the sweet spot, though, grouping site content into five simple categories.

To build your key top-level navigation, think from a customer journey perspective when grouping your content together. If the journey is smooth, your users won't mind making an extra click if they're exploring via your navigation.

Relax your tone of voice

Language that cuts through jargon is more effective because it makes sense to more people.

The majority of the sites used corporate terms in their navigation (words such as “Capabilities” and “Markets”, for example) which could be simplified to make them approachable for more visitors. A select few, including Keller, are going against the grain by offering really simple terminology which then drills down and contextualises the nitty-gritty: their navigation comprises terms like “Who we are”, “What we do” and “How we do it”.

Consider if visitors from all walks of life will understand the language you use, or if you're phrasing things from a business perspective. Your archetypal site users are diverse – get to know them and ensure your content makes sense to everyone.

Balance your images and content

A picture speaks a thousand words. They can be used to quickly convey core information that removes the need for users having to scour through text.

All the sites we looked at used bold images, in prominent places, to hook visitors from the get-go and share key information – be it a project, service or value. Their homepages used snappy overview text and linked users to webpages with more content.

Get your balance right by using your homepage as an image-led navigational tool that guides customers to their destination. Consider what the main journeys on your site are, then use images and concise content to guide them to this point.

Target your services

Modern websites are rarely one-way channels simply used for promotion. They're also platforms to engage users with interesting content, services and functionality.

Almost every site we looked at used their website to capture data for email or job alerts. Contractors such as Balfour Beatty, Interserve and Carillon also provided content for shareholders, such as live share prices or tools for investors. Going the extra mile when it comes to services can really assist the conversion process.

Identify your core site users and consider what services may help them use your site. If you're collecting data, make sure you're getting the most out of it through eMarketing and data segmentation.

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