Great Real Estate Sites – Custom Development Can Power up Results
March 9, 2011 Leave a comment
What makes a great real estate website? There’s many components and even the best may not have every ideal element in place. Some may say it’s subjective but in reality, a site’s design, layout, navigation and content presentation determine its lead generation results. It’s not really an appearance issue. The end goal is a real estate lead. The site must present content and create a customer. That’s the goal of any real estate marketing activity.
Almost always, great real estate websites are custom designed. The customization allows not only produces the layout and navigation that appeals best to that agent’s target audience, but may result in the search engine optimization of MLS IDX listings, and inclusion of important web 2.0 widgets.
As far as styles go, a Costa Rica Real Estate site is going to be different than a Vancouver real estate site which will differ also from a real estate portal or magazine. And a site that has a small amount of targeted traffic may have a a different style/layout than a site that has a lot of untargeted traffic. One site might have multiple purposes whereas another may serve one specific purpose. Different tastes mean using unique colors, styles and pictures. Styles aside, some websites can exemplify high quality standards for content, layout, and optimization. Optimization doesn’t just refer to SEO needs. The homepage and subpages are landing pages for visitors and thus need to be strategically optimized in order to create a lead out of a visit.
Some sites will use a lot of graphics, but there is no guarantee graphics and pictures create the best mood for the visitor. Sometimes, just using a layout that lets a visitor get down to business with no distractions. Showing a typical house may turn a buyer off since they’re not looking for that type of house. Playing up a brokerage logo may turn some buyers off who don’t really like that brokers image.
Let’s take a look at one of the best real estate websites you’ll find anywhere. I can only tell you through rumours that this website cost well in excess of $20k to design and build. The content would be extra. So this type of site would appeal to a currently successful agent who wants to take it to the next level. Justin Havre is a Calgary Real Estate agent who has several websites. His main site http://www.justinhavre.com is pictured here below.
You’ll note how subdued and calm the style is. Like usual, the featured listings are there as is the quick navigation links to real estate in specific Calgary neighbourhoods. There’s a form for a free market report, a blog post widget, a map search widget, and a mobile search widget. Nothing too innovative, but it certainly puts people at ease about him. Visitors would assume he’s a fairly easy going agent. He’s in the background almost invisible while the content is readily accessible. One might question whether this would be enough to capture a lead. Wouldn’t visitors just keep searching and then leave? Perhaps, although they’ll be prompted with a demand to register which is the common strategy for these types of sites.
Does the site communicate his unique value proposition well? The answer is likely not in the positive since the design and layout don’t leave space to highlight his qualifications, experience, results, and dedication among other qualities. Yes, there’s lots of listings, but in those listings there is the name of the listing brokerages so the visitor is likely to go right to the listing brokerage. An agent’s UVP is critical to creating a contact. Competition is always intense online or offline.
The flyout menus near the top maximize screen space and give visitors access to more content. With respect to SEO, the layout and linking structure allow the maximum access to MLS listings.