Your website is a tool that connects you to potentially thousands of clients, prospects, partners and opportunities. As a real estate agent, it’s a starting place for your clients in your area.
Your website serves as a resources, sharing information on nearby places, attractions and more.
Mortgage lenders can post valuable insight on the buying process, while also sharing value as a partner. Your website is one of your primary connections to the entire online network.
As you’re working on your website or thinking about launching one for your business or brokerage, there are a number of web development aspects to consider.
At the very beginning of your website development, you must ensure your website is responsive.
“The implications are clear,” wrote Dave Chaffey, CEO and co-founder of Smart Insights. “If you're not able to reach your audience through mobile search or display, or you're not providing a satisfactory mobile experience you will miss out compared to competitors who are.”
People are spending the majority (51%) of their time on their smartphone, compared to other devices, including desktop. In the United States alone, about 64 percent of Americans have a smartphone.
Responsive design is a must. It helps others reach you from whichever device they choose, from wherever they might be. Having a responsive website also sits well with search engines.
If your website isn’t going to display well on your client’s smartphone, it’s unlikely to end up in organic search results. But, a responsive design isn’t the only factor to make or break a website.
What seems to really drive engagement on a website is the navigation. If users can’t find their way around your website, they could become frustrated and leave.
“The span of immediate memory impose severe limitations on the amount of information that we are able to receive, process, and remember,” wrote George A. Miller, on a study about processing information.
According to the report, there are limitations to the amount of information people can take in at given times. It seems that groups of seven seem to stick with people most often -- seven days of the week, seven continents, etc.
With this in mind, it’s absolutely important that your real estate or mortgage website caters to your visitors.
While there are many design and functionality components that make up a good website, fluid navigation is among the key points to focus on.
Think of what you feature on your website.
You should have a blog to share tips, insight and more with your market and your clients. Having an “about” page helps you connect with potential clients and partners on a personal level. A property listings and information page leads buyers to detailed information on their next home.
To bury your website content is to deny your audience the information they need to move forward.
Yes, sharing posts on social media or through email are ways to drive traffic to your website, but where do they go once they’re done with the blog post? Hopefully onto another post, and another.
But, if your navigation doesn’t make it absolutely easy, you could be losing big prospects and turning away leads without even knowing it.
Try to consolidate your information featured on your website. You don’t want your website to appear too heavy or busy, but at the same time, you want to share as much information with your visitors as possible.
Bringing related information together helps limit the need to tack on pages to a drop down menu or split up content unnecessarily. Keeping Miller’s report in mind, try staying around seven main gateways -- give or take two -- on your top navigation.
Also, add a navigation or site map to your footer to give visitors another way to get around.
For your single property website, start with the minimum page count:
Light, Easy Reading
To help keep your audience moving from one blog post or page to the next, consider a few things when drafting your content.
Your font can be a factor when helping readers along. For body copy, it’s generally best to use a sans-serif font. These font families are normally easier to read than their counterpart, serifs.
Sans font families -- Arial, Helvetica and Calibri -- are generally preferred for the web, because it’s easier to read on screens, even on those that have a higher dots per inch (DPI) count.
Serifs are preferred for print.
The serif families -- Times, Times New Roman and Georgia -- are known for its “serifs,” the overhanging, curly details that decorate letters.
Since your computer or smartphone screen doesn’t offer a DPI as high a printed book does, serif fonts can be harder to read when they lose their sharpness.
Typically, sans families are better for body copy or smaller text. They size up well too, making them ideal for different sized headings.
If you prefer a font like Times New Roman, use it for headings or subheadings when displaying it on your website. You don’t have to disregard them from your web designs, but it would be best to use serifs for larger text to avoid legibility issues.
After you’ve sorted out which fonts you plan to use, pay attention to how it looks on various displays, including a smartphone, tablet and desktop.
It also helps to check the display in different browsers to see how everything is formatting.
Your content should still appear light and easy to read to visitors, so avoid trying to fill every pixel on your website.
In some cases, clients could be looking up your information, hoping for quick results. If they get those results, you could be receiving a call in the next few minutes. If not, well, you won’t.
Either way, by making your content easy to find and read, you’re doing your clients a service by supplying this information.
The more that you take steps to create mobile-friendly and easily navigable content, the more you’ll establish yourself as a go-to resource in your area.
One of the best ways to structure your content is to remain concise and break up ongoing paragraphs into bite-sized chunks that are sectioned off with headings or design elements, like horizontal lines.
Short paragraphs encourage the reader further down the post or page. They’re also easier to edit.
Again, there are many factors to take in when building a website. It seems like there are endless possibilities when it comes to design. Writing website copy is a continual process. Images come and go.
Along with having a smooth navigation and responsive design, you should make sure your website is shareable across all platforms.
Real estate and mortgage professionals reach their audiences through Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and other social media platforms. Email marketing isn’t out either.
When prospects come to your website, you should allow them every opportunity to share your content with their friends, family and others who might be in the market.
Word of mouth and referrals still make up a good amount of business for some. This is the way to keep that business going on multiple channels, helping you further your reach by simply displaying the content on your website.
When You’re Done
This is just the beginning. Just like anything else, your website demands maintenance, attention and innovation, especially as best practices and design concepts change.
Since mobile use continues to rise in popularity, it seems responsive design will gain in importance. The same can be said for sharing your content and having an easy navigation.
Both of these factors help you with search engine optimization (SEO) rankings, giving you more ways to build connections.