How to Build a Functional Website for Your Audience 

August 15, 2023
AIA Chicago Website Mockup

In today’s digital age, having a functional website is essential for any business or organization wishing to grow or expand its audience. But with so many websites out there, it can be difficult to differentiate yourself from others. That’s why it’s critical to design a website that is catered to your target audience. 

And the target audience for our website? Architects. 

Article written by David Cordaro, Communications Manager for the American Institute for Architects Chicago Chapter.

Define your website goals – THE most important step!

In late 2021, I was tasked with bringing on a team to redesign a website for The Chicago Chapter of The American Institute of Architects (AIA Chicago), an organization that advocates for the value of architecture while providing architects the resources they need to complete their best work. Chicago’s architects needed a website that reflected the highly technical and beautiful work they create across the world. Designing a website for designers, AIA Chicago needed a company that excelled in the quality of design and their technical abilities, and Stratifi met both of those needs. 

One of our website goals was a functional website that makes money.

As an association, a high portion of the Institute’s annual income comes from corporate sponsorship. On our previous website, company logos and external links were nearly impossible to add in a beautiful and functional way. Therefore, if the logo, or set of logos, needed to appear on multiple pages on our site, the process included a lot of tedious copying and pasting. After we tasked Stratifi with making this process more streamlined, they developed a system where logos would automatically populate based on a specific tag within our site. 

Here’s how Stratifi accomplished that website goal.

Let’s walk through an example.  

AIA Chicago’s Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN), a subsect of our membership that focuses on custom residential architecture, has over 19 annual sponsors. These company logos need to appear on the CRAN page, as well as any event page for an event that the CRAN group is hosting. 

Advanced Website Functionality Explained

Stratifi constructed a “sponsors” database, each object embodying a partner and containing relevant information such as a logo, a link, and other sponsor-specific details. Relationships were then established between these sponsors and their respective groups, such as CRAN, and each group is linked to relevant events. On the Event Detail Page, an intricate system uses these relationships, identifying the hosting group (CRAN, for instance) and fetching the associated sponsors for display. On pages needing a more customized sponsor showcase, Stratifi has provided us with the ability to specifically control which sponsors to display and in what sequence. The system then displays and styles them in harmony with the existing page design, creating a blend of functionality and aesthetics. 

6 Important Steps for Building a Functional Website for Your Audience (from the client’s perspective)

Here’s how you can build a functional website for your intended audience: 

Example of a functional website page
  1. Define your website goals. What do you want your website to achieve? Do you want to generate leads, sell products, or simply provide information? Once you know your goals, you can start to plan your website’s content and design. 
  1. Identify your target audience. Who are you trying to reach with your website? What are their needs and interests? Once you know your target audience, you can tailor your website’s content and design to appeal to them. 
  1. Find your web partner. Stratifi is a great one. 
  1. Figure out redundancies. Find where you will have redundant information on your site, and either remove the redundancies or find a way to design around them to where they can be fully automated. 
  1. Design your website’s layout and content. Your website’s layout should be easy to navigate and user-friendly. Your content should be informative, engaging, and relevant to your target audience. 
  1. Add features and functionality to your website. Depending on your goals, you may want to add features such as a contact form, a blog, or an e-commerce store. There are many different plugins and extensions available that can help you add these features to your website. 

Conclusion: Your functional website awaits!

In conclusion, crafting a functional website that appeals to your audience and aligns with your business goals is not an overnight task. It demands careful planning and a thoughtful approach. Knowing your audience, as we did with architects for AIA Chicago, allows you to create an experience that resonates with them. This will enhance your website’s effectiveness. Working with a reliable partner, like Stratifi, can streamline this process while enhancing your site’s design and technical aspects. In addition, identifying redundancies, carefully designing your site layout and content, and adding specific features to support your goals can contribute to your website’s overall success. A functional, well-designed website is more than just an online presence. It is an essential business tool that, when leveraged correctly, can drive growth and increase revenue.

David Cordaro - Lead for AIA Chicago's new functional website

David Cordaro, Communications Manager, AIA Chicago

David Cordaro, Assoc. AIA, serves as the Communications Manager for AIA Chicago. In this role, he applies his architectural insights to bring to life the narratives of architects and designers through a combination of visual and textual media.

Before AIA Chicago, David spearheaded communications for a nationwide non-profit organization. His work experience also includes tenures at Jahn/ and the Chicago Architecture Center.

When AIA Chicago issued an RFP for their website project, Stratifi was invited to apply and after winning the contract, they began working together again to launch what is now the beautiful site.

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