Get any successful Realtor to show you their secret weapon, and chances are they'll sit you down at a computer and pull up a nice looking website. As a marketing tool, a website can make all the difference, especially in real estate, where more than 80 per cent of buyers check the net first. Sellers, too, are increasingly using the Internet to market their home, and prominent, attractive websites are where they're most likely to ask for help. It's important to consider all aspects of web development, like programming, copy writing, and usability when creating your #website, but this article focuses on design because it's what people notice first.
Whether you're re-designing your old site or creating a new one, following a few simple guidelines can bring great results. Keep in mind as well that the help of a professional web-designer will help everything here go a lot smoother.
The first challenge in creating a unique looking real estate #website is overcoming the sheer volume of similar sites out there. Unfortunately for Realtors, there's a lot of competition online, and it can sometimes seem like all the good ideas have been taken. While it's not necessarily that much of an uphill battle for the average Realtor, a post-modern approach to design can make things more interesting. So what if everything's been done? You can do it better, taking the best ideas you find for layouts and color schemes, and adding your own touch to bring things to the next level, and avoid copyright theft. If you're worried your site does look too similar to someone else's, no problem - just find a good real estate design forum and ask for feedback.
One mistake a lot of Realtors make in their design is trying to force a company logo into a layout where it doesn't fit. If the logo must be there, make sure it complements the design, or vice versa, to avoid the impression you've simply taken a template and added your own image files - this can be a turnoff for web users.
As your site concept takes shape, you'll also have to figure out how much text to use, particularly on the homepage. For this step, keep in mind what the user might be expecting when they click on a particular page - if it's a clearly designated information section, they might want a lot, but if it's the homepage, a few lines that connect with and begin to inform the user might suffice. Also make sure your text styles are consistent, and your headings unique and complementary to the design.
Be careful as well not to try and pack too many features or links onto a single page. Things like map searches, menus, and weather indicators are often popular with users, but they might look awkward and take away from the site's main focus if they aren't given enough space. Site navigation bars and buttons should be limited to a couple spots on the page where they always appear, so the user is easily able to orient his or herself.
If you're a Realtor serious about expanding your market, it's important to spend time each week making yourself look good on the Internet, and coming up with a good site design is the first step.