Better Real Estate Websites

Better Real Estate Websites

Better Real Estate Websites

We recently completed a website for a local Real Estate agent. During our market research for this project we were quite surprised to find that a majority of Realty websites were poorly set up. Some sites were difficult to navigate the individual listings and others made it down right difficult to contact the Realtor regarding a specific listing.

Below is a brief look at some reoccurring problems we found on Canadian Real Estate websites and how we solved these issues when developing our client’s site making it a more high-performance and user-friendly experience for site visitors.

Responsive Design

Responsive design simply mean your website will look good and optimize itself for display on any device, regardless of the screen size of that device.

The exact same website “code” is used across all devices and via a set of instructions the layout changes (even selectively adding or remove content) so it’s optimized for your device screen size. Often elements like lengthy descriptions or large images can be eliminated for smaller screen sizes like mobile phones.

Mobile-friendly is a thing of the past because a responsive site works across all devices and not just mobile phones.

Here you can see how the same website code displays differently on different devices. Note how the navigation menu changes on mobile devices and how the amount of slides change depending on the screen size.

Reasons to have a responsive website:

  • Responsive navigation menus mean people can find what they are after, on any device.
  • Optimized page layout creates an enjoyable user experience.
  • Higher search engine rankings. *Source
  • A modern website likely loads faster, but as well, omitted content for mobile browsing certainly speeds up page loading time.
  • Essentially future-proofs your site as responsive design works for any new device hitting the market.

Search Engine Optimization

Using the latest and best SEO practices:

  • Experience higher search engine rankings.
  • We optimize the whole site for SEO (titles, headings, images, text and more).
  • People looking for content might link to your pages which in-turn helps your SEO.
  • More visitors to your site equals more contacts, conversions and sales.

Better navigation leads to better conversions:

  • Clear and easy to use navigation strategies are intuitive for your users
  • Using smart urls the website can remember user preferences thereby creating a non-frustrating and effortless experience for your visitors
  • Custom listing links encourage further browsing and keep users on your site

Website Blog

A blog on your website should provide up-to-date and interesting information to your visitors—be it market trends, community events, financial information relating to properties, lifestyle ideas, etc. These posts are monitored by search engines and will bring even more visitors to your site. Seems like a win win all-around. However…

While conducting market research we found numerous Realty websites had blogs that were simply out of date and untouched for many months and in some cases, years. Dates on posts clearly indicate to visitors the blog may be hardly used—a red flag suggesting the Realtor doesn’t dedicate much time to their business. Therefore, one piece of advice is if you plan to have a blog, make sure you allocate some time each week or each month to contribute to it.

Blogging Benefits:

  • Current information or tips are helpful and valuable to your visitors
  • Provides additional content which helps your search engine rankings
  • Fresh content keeps your name and brand at the forefront of customer’s minds
  • Blogging shows your visitors you are available to help and are engaged with your clients

Slideshows or Image Carousels

How an optimized slideshow or carousel improves your site:

  • Provides relevant information encouraging engagement with your visitors
  • Multiple options can greatly boost SEO rankings
  • Showcase numerous featured listings with details and not just a single photo
  • Highlight important listing details such as location, neighbourhood attributes, or price
  • Responsive slideshows and carousels are optimized for any device viewing your site

Contact Forms

A helpful contact form is easy to find and easy to fill out and submit. We don’t use scribbly words, captcha puzzles, or extra form fields that might deter leads. Our “smart contact forms” benefit BOTH the site visitor and the site owner.

For a site owner our smart contact forms receive less spam as they have hidden fields which robots indiscriminately fill in—something humans don’t do, enabling us to filter these leads.

For site visitors our smart contact forms know which listing the visitor was looking at when they clicked the contact button. This way the form automatically adds the information “regarding listing name and address” saving not only the user typing out the listing they are refering to, but also saving any confusion over multiple listings on the same street or with a similar name.

Our forms are just better:

  • Forms render properly on all devices
  • Easy to find, easy to use forms generate leads, not frustration
  • Forms which auto-populate a listing title or address saves input and confusion
  • A smart contact form makes your brand and business look smart

Full Screen Image Viewers or Lightboxes

A great image viewer or lightbox has:

  • A clearly discernible close button
  • Next and previous links that don’t block the image they are trying to display
  • Next or previous links that don’t bounce around the page as you move through different sized images
  • The ability for visitors to use their arrow keys on the keyboard to move through images, or use the esc key to close to exit full-screen
  • The ability to swipe images with your phone or tablet to move through images

Content Management and Data Feeds

  • Easy integration with Google Maps
  • A Featured Listing checkbox allowing specific listings to be showcased in slideshows, image carousels, sidebars, and not just on a listings page
  • Graphical tags for neighbourhoods or regions important to your area
  • Drag and drop photo galleries with responsive lightboxes optimized for any device
  • A checkbox marking the listing as sold can add a sold graphic to the listing image(s) and optionally remove the listing from available properties and automatically add it to a “Recently Sold” page on your site
  • Searchable and sortable listing details relevant to your site visitors
  • Auto-filled text or image areas for information that appears on all listings (ex. Your contact information appearing on every listing)

When a website is managed via a data feed the listings and images are pulled from the data feed which then populate the pages of a website. The two major advantages of using a data feed are:

1) When you add a listing to the data feed, your own website plus all other websites using the feed are updated automatically. If you edit a price, add some photos, update a description, all the websites across Canada using the feed update themselves!

2) Maximum exposure. Imagine the same listing data you would have entered into your own singular website now reaches every website across Canada that utilizes the data feed.

However, while a data feed is a great way to manage your listings, it in no way means you have a great website. Many data feed websites are out of the box solutions which leave a lot to be desired. The site solutions we offer, which again go above and beyond the usual features, include:

  • Improved navigation to move easily and efficiently around the site (see Navigation above)
  • Filters to properly handle missing data in the feed
  • Customized Google Maps for either missing or incorrect addresses
  • Slideshows, lightboxes and/or image galleries which are mobile, tablet and desktop friendly
  • Professional customized responsive layouts with standardized pages and listings
  • Custom listing links which can contain listing details or photos
  • Automatic daily feed updates

Conclusion

Contact us and we will get back to you within a few hours.

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