Coworking Space Website

6 min read

A getting started guide for choosing the right platform for your coworking space website.

The coworking world is complicated. Among the community, facilities, sales, and operations, you need to deal with software challenges too. Building your web presence (and mobile) should be and probably is your number one priority when it comes to software.

We talk to a lot of coworking spaces, and we observe a lot of great websites and some that are not so great. Here are our observations and recommendations for setting up your Website and how you can integrate it with your coworking management software of choice.

Marketing Website

The first and most important part of your web presence is building a beautiful marketing website. The purpose of the Marketing website is to convince new members that your space is great and it will solve their office problems. It has to improve your sales results by “converting” more of the people that noticed you to prospects that are knocking on your door for a tour.

You need great content and visuals that are laid out well in a logical way that conveys the benefits of joining your space. Easier said than done.

Here are the key objectives you may consider when building your marketing website:

  • It should be modern, beautiful and sleek.
  • It should be easy for you to write and edit content.
  • It should be easily extendable with themes, plugins, and widgets.
  • It should be built with a standard technology/solution that is well adopted, so any web developer can support it.
  • Google must love it. SEO is key.

Based on these, there are several important points which you may consider when you choose a web platform for your website:

  • Popular Website builders are ok (such as Wix).
  • Standard CMSs (Content Management Systems) are always better (such as WordPress and Squarespace).
  • Custom (not-standard) CMSs have many flaws such as: hard to maintain, lack of extensibility and lack of general adoptions/knowledge.
  • Custom built websites ‘from scratch’ are also not a good option. It costs a lot to built a website from scratch, it is hard to maintain, it’s not extensible, SEO is hard to achieve (and many other problems).
  • Coworking Management Platforms (or any other management platform) that offer built-in websites are the worst. The resulting website is not standard, not extensible, not easy to maintain, to customize… The SEO won’t be good enough and also, it will always be outdated and not according to the latest UI/UX standards.

See the comparison table for more information:

 ModernContent MngmtExtensibleStandardSEO
Website BuildersMaybe
CMS
Custom CMSMaybeMaybeMaybe
Custom WebsiteMaybe
Management PlatformMaybe

Clearly, the best option for building a marketing website for a coworking space is to either choose a website builder such as Wix (if you don’t have basic technical knowledge) or choose a standard CMS system such as WordPress (if you have the technical knowledge to implement it).

officernd

For example, our marketing website is based on a standard CMS.

Coworking Members Portal

The second most important part of your web presence is the internal, members facing web application a.k.a. members web portal.

The key objectives of the members portal are:

  • Great UI – It should be modern, beautiful and sleek.
  • Great UX – It should be easy to use.
  • White-labeled – It highlights your brand and not the vendor brand.
  • Useful/Feature-rich – It is “your product” after all.
  • Connected – It should be connected to your marketing website and coworking management software.
  • Internal – SEO is not needed.

You can think of your members portal as an important part of your offering, your complete solution.

If you take a close look at the most modern tech companies, you’ll notice a pattern in how their web presence is structured:

Home-domain – yourbrand.com – Your Marketing Website

The main/marketing website is located at the home domain – officernd.com, stripe.com, intercom.com, gocardless.com, or any other tech company. The marketing website is always built using a standard CMS. It is owned and maintained by the marketing team and the emphasis is on Design, Content, SEO and the ability to extend it and change it frequently.

Sub-domain – members.yourbrand.com – Your Web Product

The members portal, being your web product, is best to live under a subdomain. For the tech companies, that’s usually app.officernd.com, dashboard.stripe.com, app.intercom.com, manage.gocardless.com, etc. Some of the most important reasons for doing this is the so-called ‘Separation of concerns’, as known in the tech world. The product (it’s also called web application and not a website) has its own life. It has its own user interface and its own user experience. It serves a different purpose and it’s owned by a different team – the product team. You don’t want to be caught in a situation where your marketing website is down because the product team is deploying a new version. Or even worse, you need to deploy the product, because the marketing team needs to update a piece of content. There are a million reasons to keep these separate and the most important one is that they serve different purposes.

portal

An example internal/members portal (web application).

Connecting your Marketing Website with your Members Portal

Of course, these two worlds need to be connected and speak to each other. Few points that usually connect them in the Coworking world are:

  • Links in the Marketing website leading to the Members Portal:
    • Member login – existing members will (almost) always go through your Marketing Website to get to the Members Portal
    • Member signup – your Members Portal should have a public sign-up available to allow a frictionless (and automated) way for prospects members to become part of your community.
    • Meeting room calendar – another great way to capture leads and utilize your space better. Make sure your Members Portal can expose real-time availability of meeting rooms and allow “drop-ins” to book a meeting room with a few clicks.
  • Marketing Pages showing data from the Members Portal:
    • Events page – events are key to improving engagement in your community. Making them easy to spot and exposing them to people outside of your community can bring a ton of benefits.
    • Members wall – your community is one of your top differentiators as a coworking business. Having an up-to-date list of members on your marketing website will help with improving sales AND improving member visibility in general.
  • Bonus: Connecting your Marketing Website with your Coworking Management Software – adding an inquiry form to your marketing website (i.e. book a tour form) that is connected to your coworking software can help you save time when dealing with sales. Best case scenario, every time a form is filled in, an opportunity/deal will be created in your coworking management software, so you can keep track of them and follow up promptly.

Here’s a diagram that illustrates the connections described above:

signup

Conclusion

Building the web presence of your coworking space is not an easy task. But if you do it right and manage to connect all the moving parts, you’ll have the foundation that will allow you to focus on building a successful coworking community and growing your business.

20 marketing ideas for coworking spaces

6 min read

This post was originally published on Heroic Search blog.

Over the last few years, Heroic Search has been privileged to work on marketing campaigns for some truly kick-ass coworking spaces. They are consistently some of the most innovative groups of people we work with, so the ideas for promoting their spaces are equally kick-ass. Whether it be a concept of ours that we executed for a client or one that came from someone else, we wanted to share some of the most creative ideas we’ve seen for these spaces with you guys. Below are some killer marketing ideas for coworking spaces that we’ve come across or been a part of personally.

Disclaimer: It would be easy to suggest things like paid advertising, holding events, blogging, etc., but those are uber-boring. Don’t get me wrong, they totally work, but you want unique, out-of-the-box, members-pouring-in-the-door strategies. That’s what we’ve got here.

Local coffee shops

Create promotions of mutual benefit through coffee shops in your area. Sponsoring free drinks, free WiFi, etc., are all possibilities that the average coffee shop owner will be open to. You get the benefit of tapping into your target market and the coffee shops get to shuffle off some of their guiltiest “campers” to greener (and more work-conducive) pastures. (hat tip @NickClark83)

Twitter chats

Engage in coworking-related twitter chats (real estate, startup, entrepreneurship, etc).  Your participation will help to establish you as an authority in the coworking world and put you in touch with a wealth of resources that can help you stay on top of your game and give your members what they want.

Start a branded Twitter chat to stimulate engagement around coworking, an industry you serve, a particular location, or an ongoing event you want to promote. (check out #coworkchat)

Non-profits

Get involved with non-profits to help spur memberships and events. Many times non-profits simply need manpower, so getting members together on a Saturday can bring people together while also helping the non-profit achieve their goals.
NexKids-Coworking-Space-1024x681

Offer childcare

Spaces like NextKids and Sprout have done a great job offering kid-friendly work environments. In addition to being an extremely marketable “perk”, benefits like this can make a world of difference to parents who would otherwise have to work from home.

Popup coworking

Last year when Common Desk was being renovated, we held a popup coworking week in a rented space just a few minutes away. Members loved the change of pace, and partnering up with several local eateries helped spread the message of what coworking was and bolstered the space’s presence in the neighbourhood.

Get local businesses involved

This is hardly a newsflash, but the idea can be applied in an infinite number of ways. For instance, you could partner with a restaurant to cater an event or team up with a local movie theater to host a special screening of a film relevant to your member base.  This gets your name out to new audiences and strengthens local ties you can draw on later.

Create a map of coworking spaces around your city/state

This may seem a little counter-intuitive, since we’re talking about marketing your space instead of others, but at the end of the day people are going to become members wherever they want to, regardless. Making relevant information easy to find will present you as an authority as well as help the community overall.

Be live music friendly

This might be tough (read: impossible) to do during working hours, but you could easily have a dedicated spot for people to play in evening hours. Performers could be musically-inclined members or you could make a full event out of it and invite a band to come and play from time to time.

Partner with local transportation entities

If you’re in a densely populated area, try partnering up with the city to give discounts or other kinds of perks for members that use public transportation.

Create a health insurance program

It can be a challenge for individual spaces to do this on their own, but if you band together with other spaces in the area, it can become manageable. COHIP, the Coworking Health Insurance Plan started by Ashley Proctor, has worked wonders for press for the brand, not to mention helping the coworking clan worry less about healthcare, a big perk and pretty significant draw to membership.

Offer coworking getaways/vacations

These don’t have to be entirely free (although that would be awesome), but having organized working vacations helps make the community stronger and gives you a very marketable asset as a space. Reserve some spots for your members with someone like Surf Office or, hell, book a getaway on Coboat.  Or, if that seems a bit much, consider working out an arrangement with a destination space that would allow your members to visit at a deep discount or apply part of their membership fee to a week at one of these spots.

Get creative with happy hours

Happy hours aren’t really anything innovative, but you can combine them with games, food or wine tastings, or some other twist to make them something special.

Invest in member promotion

This is huge. A coworking space should be viewed as an ecosystem. It’s incredibly common for members to work with each other on their own volition, but how about helping cultivate that culutre. Back end dashboards that list members’ industries and events like Lunch and Learns are good examples of ways to help members connect.

Discounted membership promotions

If you’re looking to bring in members quickly, you could put together a contest or other type of promotion to help prompt tour schedules (think: Spring Break Signups Get First Month Free). Obviously not everyone who takes a tour to will become a member, but you should get a solid influx of new members, provided the discount/promotion was worthwhile. Either way, you’ve still increased awareness.

Offer conference discounts

More than likely, your members are regularly going to out-of-state conferences – how about sending them for free? Again, this could be combined with a type of contest if you wanted (Schedule a tour for a friend and be entered for a chance to attend The World’s Greatest Conference in the The Most Fun Place). This would work exceptionally well if you operate a coworking space that caters to a specific niche.

Provide organized classes

This goes beyond regular Lunch and Learns. Providing organized training courses for higher-level skills like coding, SEO, or graphic design can not only become a strong marketing asset for your space, but also help you get press, not to mention the value add for your members if they get a discount on the courses.

Create a food program

This could mean certain member companies providing meals on certain days or a dedicated “food fund” that members contribute to on a regular basis or some other arrangement. However you work it out, having more lunches in-house will increase the likelihood of new people meeting each other and sharing unique ideas for projects they’re working on. And just like the rest of these tips, a food program would be an extremely attractive bonus to a prospective member in the middle of deciding where they should set up shop.

Partner with colleges

I know, I know, this is a little vague, but that’s intentional since there are just so many ways to do this. Things like student programs, courses offered at your space, or even internship arrangements backed by companies in the space. Note: An internship program will be that much more effective if you can get a big name that offices out of your space to dedicate X number of internships every season.

Keep an organized mentor list and use it

I’m currently a mentor at a space, and it’s awesome! Being able to participate in helping people’s businesses get off the ground is very rewarding (not to mention a great way to meet potential clients). Likewise, the businesses/members themselves have direct access to a collective knowledge base that the space has vouched for and helps keep organized through classes and events. Truly a win-win-win.

Host Hackathons

This was a great suggestion from @GetCrossant, and it’s totally true. I’ve personally seen some really great spaces take advantage of hackathons. It appeals to a huge target market for coworking spaces, and is awesome when it comes to building up collaboration.

We are never alone when talking about marketing and coworking spaces. Join the discussion and help us add idea number 20. Or spread the word by giving us a like or tweet.