Most people have been to some bad real estate websites. They are the ones that resemble slightly glorified spreadsheets and display million dollar homes as the first entry. Those websites are unappealing for a couple reasons.
They’re visually unattractive. A stack of rectangles with some bare bones information about a property inspires no one. As for opening with expensive listings, it’s like a car salesman directing customers to the most expensive vehicle on the lot without asking any questions.
With any luck, you’re not pulling at your collar and thinking, “That sounds a lot like my website.” Even if you are, it doesn’t mean the problems can’t be fixed.
The best real estate websites strike a balance between beauty, function, and information. Let’s explore some of the ways your website can achieve that same balance.
Words and numbers are fantastic tools for many things. Reports, business plans, and white papers die without them. They are also abstractions.
Writing that a home includes a 90 square foot bathroom with marble tiles, a vintage clawfoot tub, and black walnut cabinets gives visitors a vague idea. Show a high-quality picture of that bathroom and the image makes the abstractions real.
By the same token, if someone searches for apartments for sale on the Costa del Sol, their first concern probably isn’t sterile numbers about the size of the apartments. That person wants to see the apartments because choosing a place to live isn’t just about shelter, but a lifestyle.
Lifestyle is what high-quality images let a real estate website sell. A better option is a video tour. A video tour gives potential buyers a three-dimensional feel for the space and whether it fits with their lifestyle aspirations.
This is achievable, even for real estate websites being run on a budget. Affordable DSLR cameras with high megapixels and HD video recording makes it practical for anyone to take good pictures and video.
If your website can’t support high-res images and video, it needs an upgrade. Even free WordPress themes have native support for them.
Is It Responsive?
The rise of smartphones and tablets opened up wide new vistas of Internet browsing, but also created a problem. Websites designed to display well on computer monitors were a hot mess on smaller, mobile device screens.
Responsive design solves that problem. It lets web developers build a single website that reorganizes content to fit the screen size. The end result is that users get a far superior experience on your site when they visit on a mobile device.
Make sure you have a responsive theme if you run a WordPress site. Many of the themes are natively responsive, but not all of them.
Custom sites need to be built using responsive design from the ground up. A quick visit to your website on a phone or tablet will tell you if the site is responsive. If the site is hard to read or images are distorted, you’re probably looking at a full-scale replacement.
Navigation Made Easy
Remember how much fun it was to spend 10 minutes looking for something on a website because the navigation options were terrible? Of course you don’t, because everyone hates doing that.
Easy site navigation is one of those things that becomes conspicuous by its absence. When a site has good navigation, it flies under the radar but makes the experience more enjoyable. People always notice bad navigation on a website because it ramps up frustration.
Making sure your site has good navigation is all about keeping people on your site. Frustrated visitors will leave and find a site that aggravates them less.
Blog About It
Blogs are just one of those things that people expect to see on business websites. Blogging is work, but it’s not all bad. It gives you a chance to talk about who you are, offer practical advice to buyers and sellers, and do some basic rapport building on autopilot.
Regular blog posts also create an incentive for visitors to keep coming back to your site. The benefits of this might not show up in the short-term, but familiarity breeds comfort. Regular blog readers are much more likely to turn to you — their trusted blogger friend — when they are ready to buy a house.
Blogging also ticks a box for search engine optimization. Google rewards regular site updates and blog posts count.
Speed and Availability
Website visitors are, to put it mildly, impatient. How impatient? If your site doesn’t load completely in 2-3 seconds, around 50% will go elsewhere.
That’s a tiny margin of error to work with, which means your website load times need to be tested on a regular basis. Things are fine as long as the site loads in under 2 seconds. If load times start creeping over the 2 seconds, it’s time to investigate.
Possible reasons for slow load times are numerous. It could be everything from poorly written code to the hosting service you use. Regardless of the reason, you or your web designer can do a lot to remedy the situation.
Even on WordPress sites where the basic code is largely fixed, there are things you can do to speed up load times.
Availability is another thing to watch. Businesses without purchase options on their websites often miss it when the sites go down. If your site goes down, it could easily mean lost commissions from customers who went elsewhere.
You can make your real estate website more appealing. If you’re ahead of the curve on responsive design and high-quality images or video, the changes should be fairly painless. It’s almost all refinements after that.
For websites that aren’t making use of responsive design and good imagery, the changes will be more difficult. You’ll be looking at a lot of picture taking and a potential ground-up rebuild of your website.
The upside is that making those changes should boost your website rankings, improve traffic and probably enhance your conversion rate.