Writing Dumber: A Guide for Architects to Be More Accessible

September 17, 2023

Tyler Suomala

Founder of Growthitect

Problem: Most architects forget who they're writing to and, as a result, miss out on clients.

In the world of architecture, it's easy to get caught up in the technicalities and intricacies of the profession. But when communicating with potential clients, it's essential to remember that not everyone speaks the same "language" as you.

This is especially true for social media posts, website content, and proposals. Many architects, in their zeal to showcase expertise, crafts content that is more focused on impressing other architects. Unfortunately, this is usually alienating to high-quality clients.

Why is writing that “sounds smart” usually a terrible idea?

  • Limited audience reach: Using complex language or industry jargon narrows down your audience. Most potential clients are unfamiliar with architectural terms. Jargon makes them feel left out which reduces their chances of engaging with your offer.

  • Decreased engagement: How often do you simply skim content rather than deep dive into all of it? Pretty often. Skimming is a large part of our digital age. If your content is dense or filled with jargon, readers are more likely to skip or abandon it. Simple, clear content is more likely to be read, shared, and acted upon.

  • Perceived lack of clarity: If a potential client struggles to understand your content, they might perceive you as lacking clear communication. This can raise concerns about potential communication issues during projects.

  • Undermines trust: Trust is the foundation of any professional relationship. If clients feel you're intentionally using complex language, it can raise their suspicion. They might feel you're trying to appear more knowledgeable rather than being transparent about your services.

How architects can write dumber

It's not about diluting your content, expertise, or knowledge. Writing dumber is about making your knowledge and expertise accessible. Here's how:

01 // Avoid jargon

Fact: About 50% of adults in the U.S. cannot read at an eighth-grade level.

Technical terms can alienate a significant portion of your audience. When you’re trying to close a deal, every stakeholder matters. Simplifying language ensures your content is accessible to everyone.

  • ❌ : “The fenestration maximizes natural light.”

  • 👍 : "The window design adds more sunlight."

Note: There is one exception to this rule - using jargon that is specific to your ideal client. Healthcare architects might mention HIPAA or OSHA, for example.

02 // Use visuals

Fact: The human brain can process images in as little as 13 milliseconds.

Visuals convey complex information quickly and can break language barriers, making content universally understandable. Plus, they lend themselves to very little or no writing. (And, as architects, you love to draw and create diagrams!)

It’s hard to think of any firm that does this better than BIG, who creates GIFs that describe their design concepts. (IQON Residences, BIG)

03 // Keep it short and sweet

Fact: The average human attention span dropped to 8 seconds in 2013, down from 12 seconds in 2000. (I would imagine it’s even shorter now - does anyone know?)

Concise content is more likely to be read and retained by the audience. That means shorter sentences, shorter paragraphs, and shorter explanations win.

  • ❌ : "The building incorporates several eco-friendly features that represent it’s sustainable position."

  • 👍 : "The building is eco-friendly."

04 // Tell a story

Fact: Storytelling can increase conversion by up to 30%.

Narratives are engaging and memorable. By framing your work as a story, you can create a deeper, longer-lasting connection with your audience.

  • ❌ : Case studies or project descriptions with heavy use of jargon and poetic statements that only the author understands.

  • 👍 : Stories that frame the client as the hero and put the project or process into relatable terms.

05 // Use active voice

Fact: Sentences in active voice are 20% shorter than those in passive voice.

Writing (and speaking) in an active voice makes content clearer and more concise. It also places your audience in the moment, allowing them to better engage in the writing.

  • ❌ : "This modern residence was designed by our team."

  • 👍 : "Our team designed this modern residence."


Social media. Websites. Proposals. Regardless of what you’re writing, make it easy to understand.

  • Avoid industry jargon to reach a broader audience.

  • Use visuals to convey complex ideas quickly.

  • Keep content concise to cater to shorter attention spans.

  • Share stories to engage and connect with your audience.

  • Use active voice for clearer and more direct communication.

By embracing simplicity in your content, you can connect with a broader audience, build trust, and ultimately, grow your client base.

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