Since I’ll be speaking on this topic at Inman Connect in July, I figure I’ll throw out some of my thoughts on the topic now to sort of get the ball rolling. What makes a website a “Killer Website”?
Steve Jobs once said, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like, design is how it works.”
This is an important idea to me. The concept that great design incorporates function along with aesthetics and visual appeal. A great website is visually appealing, but it also works well, is intuitive and easy to use, and, of course, has good information for the person visiting it.
What a great design does not have is every possible thing crammed into every page or wild colors and attention grabbers all over the place. And it certainly is not an SEO keyword love-fest that trades well written copy for unreadable paragraphs repeating the same twenty keywords ad nauseam.
Don’t suffer design simply for organic ranking- it does no good to rank high on Google and get a lot of traffic if all your visitors just click away and you get no business. In fact, it’s worse than no good because you take up valuable Google real estate that could go to a better site, which would help the consumer, and ultimately, our industry.
Here are a few things I believe are critical in the design of “Killer Website”:
Simple Layout– The basic layout of a page is among the most important aspects of its usability and visual appeal. Having information organized well and placing the most important information in places that easy to see and access will go a long way for the consumer.
Less is More– Trying to cram everything you can into a page makes it difficult for people to find what they are looking for and it also greatly dimishes the overall experience of the visitor. Decide what information is most important and prioritize that information on the pages. If it’s getting difficult to find room for something new, maybe you don’t need it.
Branding– Many websites fail to establish the brand of the company or people offering the site. Of course, some sites go too far trying to brand themselves, but in most cases the brand is not established well enough. Have a great logo and display it prominently so when people visit your website they remember where they are.
Reasons to Return– Create a website where people will have reasons to come back again and again. One of the easiest ways to do this is by incorporating a community resource blog into your website. This is a blog that gives insight into the community and creates a loyal readership of people who live in that area. Another great way reason for people to return to your site would be to get information about their transaction or the real estate market they live in. Having printable coupons or drawings from local businesses might attract return visits.
Pleasing color combinations– Color plays a large part in the feel of a design. Colors set the mood, and can turn people off when the wrong colors are used. Some companies, such as Weichert and Exit Realty, would do well to change their brand colors completely, while other brands, such as Prudential, Alain Pinel, and Keller Williams, have done well in selecting colors that enhance their brand.
Easy Navigation– Make it incredibly easy for people to find what they want. Large buttons and icons placed where they are easy to see will ensure people can find what they need. Being clever with your navigation can result in confusion by the visitor. It’s okay to be different, as long as it is very easy for visitors to find what they are looking for, and to return to the homepage. Make it easy to get back to the start.
Very visible contact info– Your contact information should be very visible, on many pages, including a phone number. Websites that only have a support email address are insulting to the visitor. It is lame to only offer support through email. Here’s an example; I have been trying to place an ad on ActiveRain for about a month now but their system is completely screwed up and nothing works correctly. And I can deal with the technical problems, but the only way to contact them is through a ticketed email system. It takes no less than three days to get a response- every single time. I like the ActiveRain platform, but they need some serious help when it comes to service. My ad is still not running.
Have some fun– Nobody likes looking at a spreadsheet. And most don’t enjoy looking at plain, ordinary, boring content. A great website offers a great experience for the visitor, and that includes keeping them interested and entertained. Add fun elements to your site with images, colors, and icons. Use fonts and font sizes that make it easy to read your content, and break up long areas of text with some images and fun elements. Put some personality into your website through a blog and text, but also with your design.
Websites are becoming more and more important as real estate professionals are beginning to leverage the internet to grow their business and their brand. Consumers have a lot of choice when choosing where to spend their time online, so it’s imperative to have a website that they’ll want to come back to again and again.
BlueRoof360 offers custom websites and lead management systems for real estate professionals.