Real estate websites have come a long way. I admire agents who keep raising the bar, applying the best new thinking on how to design and construct their sites for today’s online consumers. I’d like to share some examples, starting with Circadian Realty Group and Long and Foster REALTORS in Fairfax, Virginia. There’s a lot of good stuff happening on this site, but here are five things that popped out at me right away:
1. Consistent branding.
Circadian created a unique and memorable logo, as well as other branding elements, that are consistently used throughout the site and in all their other marketing materials, including a custom-designed Facebook page. By using the same fonts, color scheme, and other visual components on every page, this boutique brokerage projects the appearance of a larger, highly polished organization. And it’s paid off. Lauryn Eadie, ABR, SFR at Circadian has received direct feedback that the clean, consistent appearance of their materials has played an instrumental role in winning new business with clients.
2. Featured properties.
One large rotating image of homes for sale, plus a rolling film strip of other featured properties, makes it immediately apparent to visitors that they’ve arrived at a real estate website. Individual property pages are also well constructed, often including several enhanced features such a property brochures, 2- and 3-D floor plans, and links to area schools.
3. Property search.
Perhaps the most important feature for prospective home buyers is a good property search function, and Circadian smartly places a link to theirs near the top of the page. Even though it doesn’t include a quick-search function from the home page, buyers will love this full-featured property search tool, which provides all the usual search criteria plus lifestyle categories, specialized area searches, and a long list of advanced search functions. Buyers can also search based on any keywords they choose.
4. No agent photos.
I realize that real estate agents have a long tradition of including personal photos on all their marketing materials. But my opinion is this does not work well on the home page of a real estate site, where the focus belongs on properties and the people buying and selling them. Keeping the focus where it belongs also helps project a more polished, professional image. (How often do you see smiling photos of presidents or CEOs on their corporate home page?) So I applaud Circadian for passing on the personal photos, although they may want to add them to their Meet the Team page.
5. Good integration with social media.
Circadian Realty Group makes it easy for visitors to connect with them on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. And they’ve incorporated a mini Twitter and Facebook feed, as well as the latest posts from their blog. These elements are all well-positioned above and below featured properties and tools for home buyers and sellers. In this way, Circadian has fully incorporated social media without creating distractions from their primary objectives.
Great job! Please share your thoughts on best practices for real estate websites and check back for more examples.