Fratelle Group: A Case Study

Craig Harman
Craig Harman MANAGING DIRECTOR

Fratelle Group is an architectural practice that connects people, place and story to create functional innovative and sustainable designs. They have worked on a wide range of projects, including high-quality residential homes, apartments and mixed-use developments, commercial offices, medical centres and refurbishments.

The challenge

Fratelle Group is a brand rich with modern and eco-friendly architectural ideas. They’re known for their dedication to quality and being at the forefront of the industry. By the time they found Harmonic, they had spent many years of mis-starts with several other website developers who were unable to provide a website design that suited their needs. Fratelle Group were determined to find the right web development partner to ensure they could communicate their values and showcase their portfolio effectively.

The solution
After exploring their objectives and desires, it was clear to us that Fratelle Group needed a mobile responsive website that could would be creative and engaging to the online visitor. The website needed to showcase the huge number of projects completed by Fratelle, with a high level of segmentation so that the user could easily locate the projects they were most interested in. The images were to be sharp and large, and delivered quickly.

The results
We sat down with director Adrian Fratelle to hear his story about working with Harmonic.

Why did you feel you needed a new website?
We were never happy with any of our websites. Whenever we asked for a one, we got something better but it still wasn’t where we needed it to be.

We wanted the best platform to showcase the high-quality images we had spent so much money on – they’re important in building our business. The others before Harmonic didn’t nail the brief. It was a frustrating process.

How else was a website refresh important for the business?
Our website is the first point of contact for anyone looking for information about Fratelle Group. Let’s say we meet them at a networking event. We presume the first thing they would do is jump onto their phone or computer to look at what we do, what we’re about and how we can help.

Sometimes this can be many months after the initial meeting.

What results have you seen with the new website?
We get favourable comments all the time. People visit it, they notice it and make comments. I can tell it’s working.

Marketing is several steps, it isn’t simple. , You never get someone visiting your website and thinking it’s great and therefore they come to you. That’s not how it works. Generally, they may have seen us in the newspapers, been referred through someone else or we bumped into them six months before. The website is a step in the marketing process, an important one.

The website has to reflect what we do in the best light.

The website is a big piece of the puzzle.

Any tips for others considering a website refresh?
It’s the same thing I say to people who are seeking an architect. The web developer needs to have a good rapport with you, and you need to understand each other. Not all developers will be on the same level as you, so you need to make sure they can connect your business goals with the solutions they offer.

Any warning signs to help weed through the sea of competitors?
Avoid web designers who don’t provide a comprehensive brief. As architects, when we get a briefing from clients, we type it up and we all have to agree on it. It guides the project as it includes the scope.

We thought we had a good connection with some web designers we worked with before Harmonic. Yet we still locked heads with them without even getting what we wanted. Some of them promised solutions they couldn’t deliver.

One of the earlier requests, for example, was to have images that moved so users could scroll through – like a lifestyle banner – and they would view the elements of each of our designs, down to some very fine details. The web designers promised they could do it without Flash, but they didn’t deliver. We were always fixing stuff. We couldn’t upload text or images when we wanted to either.

How long did you work with these designers before giving up?
Way too long – six months to a year at times. It was very frustrating and expensive. With one designer it took a year or so.

So how much did you spend before finding Harmonic?
All up we spent tens of thousands of dollars before we even started with Harmonic.

What set Harmonic apart from the rest?
They were on the same wavelength as us from the get-go. They understood the brief and what we needed. Working with an architectural firm is probably more difficult than regular companies, because we are creative and highly visual. So interpreting what we want can be difficult. But Harmonic got it right. We also liked the websites they had already done for others.

Was there anything that surprised you about web development?
I had this expectation that you should be able to do anything you want when working in cyberspace. Why are there so many limitations on what you can do? It’s frustrating.

If you wanted a website with boxes floating around and disappearing back and forth and a video would come on, you should be able to do it. I guess we’ll have to wait for the NBN if we want to see the true potential of the internet.

Now that you’ve got your website sorted, are you facing any other business challenges?
We’re growing our business. The good news is we’re in a market downturn. This is one of the best times to grow a business. It’s also one of the most challenging times to do it.

However, we’re taking advantage of it because we know many of our competitors don’t change. They keep doing the same thing. So they end up not driving business away.

This creates more opportunities for those who are stepping up their games. You can’t be lazy in this market, there’s no order taking. You need to be responsive and you need to employ great staff who understand clients.

You also need to be at the forefront of technology. Technology in other fields has moved far. But in our industry, it’s out there but people don’t use it. It’s crazy. Why are we still building with bricks and mortar? We have to start with the consumer – so we’re educating them.