The most important page in a website is none other than its homepage.
It is more than a page that introduces your business to the viewers as it actually works as a guide. If one gets lost, one can always go back “home” and start again.
It is also the most valuable page that glues the entire site together. It basically works as a tool for the users to get to the page or content they want to see.
In Real Estate, the homepage needs to be designed to address the interests of the visitor. Why are they even there? What do they want? Read our Complete Online Marketing for Real Estate to understand what they really want.
Buyers come to a real estate website to buy homes. Sure, they maybe on different levels on the decision making process spectrum but all the same, they are there to make a purchase – maybe in a few weeks or even a few months’ time.
They make their purchase decision after considering all possible options available for them. Possible options meaning price ranges, home specifications, location, commute time to and from work or school, security and ten to twenty to a hundred more decision making parameters.
So how can we help them in their quest? With the use of our site, of course!
Let’s start with the homepage. Here are some popular content and site functions you will observe in most real estate websites:
The Navigation Bar or the Menu
The menu or navigation bar is usually seen at the top of a real estate website. It typically has these items on them which are either hidden or perfectly shown:
- Home and/or Logo to redirect directly to the homepage
- Search (drop down for price range, communities)
- Sales (recently sold homes)
- Blog (blog area of the site)
Some other common items are tools such as Home Mortgage Calculators, Market Reports and a Sign-up | Login area which gives full access to the MLS and other restricted areas of the site.
Additional Navigational Experience
Most of the time items or content of the entire site can be cut to portions and displayed on the homepage as “teasers” of what the entire site actually contains.
Think of it like playlists. In iTunes, one can set up different playlists, right? The exact same thing goes for real estate websites. We can display homes in a variety of ways.
Some of these playlists are pre-made popular search criteria like Search by Price, Search by Area, Most Viewed Homes or Recently Listed Homes. You can cut up your library into as many playlists as possible.
In some recent sites we’ve made, we have even sliced them up into categories such as Search by Design and Search by Features.
This is an ideal way to set up the homepage as it allows the real estate agent to summarize the site and let the visitors proceed as they wish to other pages.
Some of these pre-made searches are more efficient over others. People would generally hit Search by Price much more than Search Homes by Design. So it’s better to place the more powerful search categories on top of the others for faster access to those pages.
An Overall Feel – The Intuition
In a sense, Google, Yahoo and Bing all do the same thing – they reply to our search queries. Zillow.com, Homes.com and Trulia.com also kind of do the same thing. They display results of homes for sale with the specifications given by their users.
But how did it feel like while working on Google or Zillow? Why did they stand apart from the others by almost by a mile?
A good reply to this would be that the overall feel of using their search services are very satisfactory. We get answers quickly and accurately and their interface, though very simple, is effective.
Your site content may be amazing but if it does not feel right or if it seems out of place, then this may cause people to leave the site and not come back. Or yes, they may come back, but very reluctantly.
We want the homepage to have the right feel. First of all it should feel smooth i.e. no rough edges such as slow load speeds, errors, glitches and vague content.
Another element of amazing homepages is that they should allow for a deeper navigation within a few clicks.
It’s like a child jumping back and forth – almost predictable on the outcome and without breaking any sweat. It literally should be a “walk in the park.”
Here are a few considerations you should be aware of that can affect the smoothness and easiness of the homepage:
Fast Page Loads
Slow loading sites are a disservice to your customers. It’s like asking them to fall in line when they want your service right now. Remember, they will not wait for your site to load. Use Google Page Insights to check your homepage and have your developer score above 95% to ensure fast page loads.
Accurate Page Loads for Devices and Browsers
Mobile and Browser site compatibility audit.
I do not use Safari much, but most of your customers do. You may not use an Android device but thousands of your customers do. Not having all devices and major browsers ready to display your content shows that you do not care enough.
Although this is a tiring and time-consuming process, we recommend using manual inspections. There are some programs that can help you detect non-compatibility but they have not been 100% accurate. In fact, they are still far from it.
Fast and Up-to-Date Search Results
Overall Site Search Functions and updated MLS results.
Information is the agent’s biggest asset. Outdated information is not helping you be on top of your game.
Here’s a list of other contents and functions within the homepage that need attention:
- Site layout
- Font consistency
- Proportionally sized fonts and divisions of the page
- Organized Navigational Sections (Search by Price, communities etc…)
- Brand Content (About, Testimonials, Reviews, Sales, other achievements)
- Contact Tools (Newsletters, Contact Us forms, Phone Number, Google Maps with Address, social accounts, blog updates)
- City/Town Content – Not just for SEO, this content should prove that your site is the #1 resource for home updates, community knowledge, and market knowledge.
Art is important but design is when art and functionalities meet to satisfy a specific need.
The visitors are not in the site to be wowed. They are there because the homepage offers a service to them. Ultimately, the homepage and the entire site is the tool that helps them make their buying process easier and more effective.
So keep on at that homepage to see better results.