How a Responsive Website Will Help You Grow Your Real Estate Business
By Sandra Manzanares
About Website Design
Home buyers in every real estate market are changing the way they search for real estate listings and it will impact the business tactics of every real estate professional. The shift to mobile searching has become increasingly popular and preparing your website for these changes is the only way to stay ahead of the market. Sure, having a website that shows listings nicely on a desktop seems well enough, but more than half of all page views of listings now occur through a mobile device, as opposed to a desktop computer. It may be hard to visualize how this change can impact your business, so let’s explore some statistics that show how buyer engagement has changed with mobile: 89 percent of new home shoppers use a mobile search engine at the beginning and during the entire home-searching process. Due to mobile searches, 35 percent of these same shoppers search a company’s listing inventory online, 28 percent call a brokerage, 21 percent locate a listing and 18 percent contact brokers/agents by others means than calling.
So, not only are you competing with other real estate professionals, you now have to consider how your site adapts to various platforms, how quickly it loads and how the functionality pleases your prospective clients. That’s a lot to take in. The great news? Responsive websites give house-hunters the ability to shop on any device without sacrificing functionality.
Our suggestion: Make your website design responsive. Concerned about the switch? Here, we offer some guidance:
“How is my site not responsive?”
Hint: If your mobile view looks exactly like your desktop view but smaller, your site most likely isn’t responsive. It may actually just be your desktop version that’s attempting to adapt. Responsiveness of a website determines how smooth a browsing experience is when viewing the website on any device. It allows your site to adjust not only in dimensions, but also to fit the user experience of your site’s content for whatever browser and device is used.
Many times these designs will look like custom editions for each device, but, in reality, the style and coding simply allow the design to flow to the preferences of the browser. This could mean the difference of how your menu and listings are spread around the screen, the difference of scrolling up and down versus side by side, having wide screen or tight view (depending on axis), how and where buttons are placed for optimal clicking, how pictures resize and mold, and how links can easily be clicked on with finger tips rather than mouse clicks. Responsiveness obviously encompasses so much more than this, and many developers now take measures to account for this, creating responsive designs that maintain brand identity while offering wonderful usability across platforms. This means that as you consider templates for your website, you should choose ones that are responsive.
“To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.”
— Mark Twain
“But I already have a website, and it’s viewable on mobile. Isn’t that enough?”
The short answer is no. And this is why: about one-fifth of real estate related searches happen on mobile devices. Combine this with the statistic that 40 percent of Internet users abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load and the fact that non-responsive websites take longer to load on mobile devices. Then consider that 79 percent of shoppers who are unhappy with a website’s performance are less likely to buy from that same site. You can already guess that offering desktop functionality for all browsers will leave you unprepared to service this searching behavior. Simply not having a responsive website could cause a decline in traffic and leads each year. And, with less clicks and leads, you will be throwing away advertising dollars and your PageRank will suffer. Ensure that your website’s quality isn’t the thing that’s negatively impacting how home buyers engage with your business.
“I would love a responsive site, but I already have a site that I like.”
The main thing that holds real estate professionals back from upgrading to a responsive template design is thinking about making the change and all of the logistics and costs that come along with redoing a website. But the benefits of a responsive design outweigh the costs. And this hesitation may cost you more in the long run, confronting users with potential crashing, freezing and formatting and functionality issues that ultimately decrease your traffic. Because the average home buyer is increasingly mobile-dependent, you must cater to their needs. The good news? Because responsive design is based on one URL, and because the code is consistent over all devices, updating it is much easier and faster than making device-specific changes. What may be a slight inconvenience to update now will be mean easy and cost-effective updates in the future.
Did you know that not having a responsive website could also affect your PageRank? According to Quick Sprout, two seconds is the standard load time of highly ranked sites. Google favors sites that load quickly. If slow-loading mobile websites are ranked highly, and users click on them and subsequently exit out of them, Google searches suffer overall. Need more proof? Google has said on record it prefers responsive websites because Googlebots are better able to crawl sites with a single URL and there’s less room for SEO errors. They also give recommendations that your responsive sites have a two-second load time, which is what 47 percent of consumers expect. A desktop design can’t function with the same speed on a mobile device.
“Okay, so I’m interested. But why should I commit to upgrading now?”
The real estate industry is only getting more fast-paced by the day. With hectic lifestyles and flash sales, home buyers don’t have time to sift through websites that don’t meet their needs. This trend is only continuing to grow: Google real estate searches on mobile devices grew 120 percent year-over-year from 2011 to 2012. And that number is increasing as mobile usage becomes the standard. The reality is that you will need a responsive website whether now or in the future, but being proactive about it now will help boost your PageRank and leads. Also, your responsive website will sustain future technology developments: Even as new phones and tablets with varying dimensions are released each year and as people are beginning to look at sites via televisions and other devices, your site will always be prepared to respond no matter the platform.
“How will upgrading to a responsive site help my business?”
These home buyers aren’t just searching on mobile: More than two-thirds of prospective home buyers who use a mobile device contact real estate professionals for showings. Even more, mobile users, on average, submit five times more property inquiries By meeting mobile expectations, you can generate more quality leads faster and also approach sales more effectively. With responsive designs, you can expect seamless user experiences with your website, higher engagement levels and higher PageRank. Not to mention, all website updates will be implemented across platforms instantaneously. (All wins here.)
“Action is the foundational key to all success.”
— Pablo Picasso
“That sounds great. I think I’m ready to upgrade. Where do I start?”
While there’s a plethora of providers out there, we suggest developers who operate through WordPress. It’s the most popular content management system that offers great options and consistent updates. There are also some must-haves for responsive real estate websites. As you consider your options, choose templates with high ratings, high-speed functionality and an intuitive design. But don’t stop there. Investigate a bit. Look at their live previews on as many device types and views, and consider the user experience. Are the most important parts of your desktop view getting a prominent hierarchy in other formats? This is super important so that important things, like your “listings” link, don’t end up as tiny text or in a semi-hidden menu.
Overall, your design should:
- Propel users forward. The less back-clicking, the better. Your buttons, arrows, links and CTAs should push your visitor forward, not make them constantly return to a menu or page to get back to their options. Spacing and positioning are also important.
- Have single-action goals. A single-action user goal means that the site’s functionality supports single-action steps, whether that’s a click, swipe, pinch, etc.
- Be sized just right. Make sure the menus, links, photos and listing information are sized correctly, as well as other prominent items you wish to emphasize.
- Showcase your listings beautifully. These are your main products and it’s important that your design is prepared to show your listings clearly with all details and proper navigation.
While you may have to go through some redesign work, your responsive site will yield numerous benefits, from effectively engaging with quality leads to being an overall cost-effective option that will grow your business. Need more information? Download our Responsive Design for Real Estate eBook!
Are these responsive website tips helpful? Let us know in the comments below!
Published on May 1, 2014
Written by Sandra Manzanares
Writer, editor, and marketing manager with a passion for helping brands enhance their content marketing strategy. I'm a firm believer that creative storytelling is an essential part of the way we communicate. Constantly striving to fill my head with as much creative and analytical information as possible.