7 Signs You’re Overdoing Your Web Design
By Colin Ryan
These days, there’s a lot of pressure to build a great website, and the numbers suggest real estate professionals are taking that pressure to heart.
In 2011, 43 percent of agents said they spend $101-$1000 annually in their website, while over two-thirds claimed to invest 60-180 hours a year. Those figures were even higher for brokers.
This competition has led to some truly excellent real estate websites. Unfortunately, it’s also led a lot of agents and brokers to get a little carried away. That is, in the interest of distinguishing themselves as the tech-savviest in the business, some people “overdesign” their sites to such an extent that they cease to add value. The result is a site that’s time consuming to build, difficult to use, and less visible to search engines.
Here are seven telltale signs that you’re overdoing your web design.
1. You’re using Flash.
Adobe Flash has been the standard for years when it comes to adding visual flair to web pages. But while it may look cool, Flash is difficult to build and demanding to run, so it adds significant load time to your pages. Adobe has also discontinued its mobile platform, which means you’ll be cutting your website off from the majority of smartphone and tablet users. Finally, search engines can’t index Flash content, so it doesn’t provide any SEO benefit.
2. You’re using iframes.
Simply put, an iframe is a piece of HTML code that allows you to display one webpage within another webpage. This is useful when you want to display dynamic content without having to update it manually on your own page. For instance, iframes are a common way of displaying photo galleries and IDX search forms that draw real estate data from MLS systems. As with Flash, however, iframes can’t be crawled by search engines, which means no matter how great the content is inside the frame, your search engine ranking won’t improve because of it.
3. Your text is over-formatted.
This is Web Design 101, but you’d be surprised how often people get it wrong. Before you start considering whether the text on your website is visually appealing enough, you need to make sure it’s eminently readable. That means choosing a font that’s not too flashy and a color that contrasts sufficiently with the background. It also means keeping sizes and styles to a minimum when it comes to formatting titles, headings, subheadings, etc.
4. You have too many photos/videos.
It’s increasingly important to have a lot of visual content on your website, particularly in the real estate business. That doesn’t mean, however, that your site should be entirely made up of photos and video tours. A good web page has a balance of engrossing visuals and informative text. Use too much of the former, and you’ll end up with a site that not only takes forever to load, but also doesn’t tell your visitors what those images and videos are for.
5. Your navigation bar is too complicated.
Just like your text, the primary function of navigation menus and tabs is to help visitors find their way around your site, not to look pretty. Spend too much time stylizing and animating your navigation, and you’ll only frustrate your visitors instead of encouraging them to explore your pages.
6. You have too many sections/page elements.
No matter where your web design path takes you, it’s important to remember that the purpose behind each web page you create should be for visitors to take a specific action, whether it’s reading a blog post, searching for properties, watching a video, filling out a form, etc. The visual layout of your page always offers visitors a clue as to what this action should be. If you pack your web page too full of columns, widgets, or features, and you’ll end up confusing users with too many choices.
7. You have a fancy background image.
Choosing a large, high-quality photo as a background can sometimes give your site a facelift. But don’t forget that your text (hopefully) uses only one color, while most photos use the whole spectrum. Chances are this means some of your text will be difficult to read, even if that background photo is in tasteful black and white. Instead, you’re probably better off sticking with either a plain white or off-white backdrop.
For more insight about web design traps you should avoid, check out our Website Redesign Guide on the Real Estate Marketing Academy.
Published on June 18, 2011