If you’re giving your site a refresh, there are a few principles to bear in mind. As with all elements of your digital marketing strategy, your website needs to start with your target audience – but keep it simple.
You’re looking to create a well-designed site that seamlessly guides your visitors to the point where they can take action, giving them a good experience that builds trust in your brand along the way.
There’s a lot to think about, but to start with here are nine key principles we think it’s worth sticking to.
1 Know your purpose
Begin with the purpose of your site, what you’re out to achieve. Websites can have lots of reasons for existing – to grow your reputation, build your brand or host transactions. In the case of estate agents, it’s likely that yours is a shop window for selling or letting properties and to attract vendors and landlords, so think about these users and their intent with everything you do.
2 Keep it simple
Simplicity is important when you’re thinking about the design of your site. In other words, don’t overload it with too much visual clutter so people don’t know where to look. Stick to these three principles:
- Colour – use a complementary palette that starts with your brand and keep to five shades or less.
- Type – again not too many fonts and these need to work with your brand and be easy to read.
- Photography – vital to any agent site, these need to be high-quality and compelling.
3 Navigation is key
Helping visitors find their way around your site is one of the most crucial design elements to factor in. You need to give people clear direction to take them where they need to go – with ‘buy’ and ‘sell’ pages carefully marked out. Keep the navigation simple and intuitive or people will get lost and give up before they even reach your selection of properties.
4 Understand the F-word
Look at the vast majority of websites and you’ll notice one thing about their structure. They are set up in an F-based pattern, with navigation menus along the top and left-hand side. It’s like this for a reason, as studies have found that western readers are drawn to the top and left of a screen, scanning across the page from left to right and top to bottom. A good website will follow this natural pattern.
5 Ace your visual hierarchy
Your site needs to demonstrate what is important by a series of visual clues which establish the focus of a page. These clues include size, colour, typography – and the white space in between. This is something a great web designer will be able to create without you even noticing.
6 Content is king
While great images are crucial to real estate sites, the written content that goes alongside them needs to live up to this promise and keep people on your pages. Make sure copy is crisp, compelling and above all accurate. Whether on landing pages, sales pages or your all-important blog, keep it snappy, succinct and readable.
Make sure copy is crisp, compelling and above all, accurate.
7 Grids are good
A grid-based structure is another common feature of great websites, which leads to well-organised content that’s clear and easy on the eye. Grids use columns and sections to line everything up on the page creating a feeling of balance and order that is pleasing to look at – again keeping customers on your site and helping them take action.
8 (Load) time is of the essence
Everyone has experienced that frustrating wait for a page to load. These days people’s expectations of websites are high, with many abandoning a search when a page won’t load within three seconds. Agent sites are often crammed with data-heavy images, so optimise them properly for a speedy page load.
9 Think mobile first
Nowadays the vast majority of property searches begin on phones so it’s vital that your site is properly responsive, adjusting size and shape for mobiles and tablets.
To sum up, your site should give the viewer a good experience through simple navigation, clear and appealing design and engaging copy. With these principles in mind, look at a selection of websites – even ones from a completely different sector. Think about what works, what doesn’t and what keeps you on the page. This will help you understand what works and how you might adapt yours.
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