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Geek Build 2012 – Design Concept for – Comments Requested

Geek Build 2012 is moving along nicely, and we now have an initial design concept ready for public comments and suggestions for revisions. We chose to use for our initial design, which will be finalized in Adobe Photoshop .psd format. Once this is complete we will hire a developer to turn the design into code, and that code will be used to create our custom child theme for the Genesis framework.

We submitted our job on and ended up receiving twenty bids between $110 and $1500. We narrowed the field down to seven designers by eliminating designers whose bids were too high, had fewer than twenty jobs completed on elance, had average ratings under 4.7 out of 5 stars, had portfolios we were not impressed with, or had too few website designs in their portfolios. We ended up choosing a designer in Sri Lanka who had an excellent design portfolio, was very responsive and came in at $250.

The initial design that came back didn’t work for us and we have been through two rounds of revisions. The two designs below are the initial concept and the latest revision – click for full size: First Draft


TheClearwaterBeachLife Revision 2

When commenting keep in mind that images, colors and fonts will be customizeable and will change for each Geek Build participant. What will not change is the location and size of elements. This design is for my Clearwater, FL site, and I already know the header image won’t work for me. Also, I requested the images behind the Markets / Home Worth / We’re Different row be removed but the designer missed it. We will probably make those text widgets so we have the flexibility to put whatever we want in there.

The area behind the search box will allow for several different images to rotate, and the search box itself will have a background image that can change. Additionally, all rows between the search box and the footer will be optional, so each participant can include whichever ones they want, or start with none and add elements as time and dollars allow. Building these attributes into our WordPress theme will be expensive, but will offer great flexibility and ensure that each participant’s website looks completely different from the others.

What are your thoughts on the current design? What would you change?

Note from the Editor: Not sure what Geek Build 2012 is? It’s building a few real estate websites from scratch publicly with the help of the Geek Estate Community and overseen by an experienced steering committeeRead more about Geek Build 2012 here, or view all posts related to Geek Build 2012 here.

**Geek Build logo designed by Dominic Morrocco at M Squared Real Estate.

About Daniel Bacon

Daniel Bacon is a Florida real estate agent and licensed broker specializing in waterfront and luxury homes in the St Petersburg - Clearwater Real Estate market.

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  • I would use design two and I would not rotate any pictures behind the search box.  Design one is way to distracting and does not allow for the search box to be seen very clearly.  That is where eyeballs have to go. Nothing else really matters.

    • Yeah, the initial concept didn’t work at all. Is there anything you would change about the latest version?

      •  Yes.  The phone number in the header blends in too much with the silhouette of the building where they overlap.  You need to fix that.

        • I agree, I am liking the direction…

        • Thanks, I’m going with a completely different header.

  • There is something about the red buttons that doesn’t do it for me. Not the color, just the plainness? The get email updates button near the bottom should be differentiated somehow IMO.

    • Maybe get updates should be an email input box with a prompt above, and more from the blog should be a link.

  • Is the search box in the photo something we will be able to turn on and off as well like the other modules?  It would be nice to give us the option of going with an emaotional trigger photo feel.

    • So, if you wanted to focus on image rather than search you could do so. Sure, we can do that.

      • also the ability to have our images rotate as a slide show….. I am seeing some respectable sites solely focused on high end imagery with what i assume is to trigger endorphin releases to the visitor. Of course, this is only as good as your photo caliber.  Examples are

        It would give us the ability to a/b test the search box overlay vs an image overlay.  That would be some good info.

  • Alin Zdroba

    Very nice. Some comments and minor suggestions:
    – phone number area: would be nice if it stands out, maybe as a higlighted block/label, in a vibrant color
    – social icons: I would personally replicate all of them around the header area
    – get email button: changed to an input box (so it becomes a one click action once email is typed in)
    – of course, the more elements are developed into customizable widgets, the better. You covered this in your post though.
    Also, thank you for offering additional info around the designer selection process, and cost.

    • Good points. Header will be redone. Anyone else think social icons should be up top?

      • I’d love to see some a/b testing on this. I don’t think social items should be front and center.

  • It would be great if the communities could auto-rotate through the explore communities box. For example, we see 2 in the example, but if this could change each time someone lands on the page, geeks know what I’m trying to say?

    • There is a WP plugin for this I just can’t think of the name. Can definitely be done though. 

    • While we’re at it, and since we have to code it anyway, we could add another optional row for developments/condos that works the same way. 

  • Get rid of the quick search at the top if it’s not hooked to your idx/rets. If you want people to be able to search the blog, add it to your blog sidebar. Visitors will enter property searches there, then leave the site.

    Put a newsletter/feedburner subscribe input there. Reorganize your navigation, it’s not user friendly.
    1. Buy
    2. Sell
    3. Communities
    4. Blog
    5. About

    Reviews, Contact & Meet Team should be under ‘About.’ You shouldn’t use sub-navs when possible, this is an exception to the rule.

    The ‘Detailed Search’ button on the quick search form should be a text link, not a button. Only one button per form, the ‘search’ button.

    Remove the three boxes below the fold. Why are they there? Bring up the ‘Explore Communities’ section, remove the communities and put your calls to action there.

    Not sure what purpose the arbitrary text above the footer serves. Hopefully, not keywords or text links. If so, remove it. It’s a very useless footer. (yes, you can now begin a sentence with ‘hopefully’ Your footer is my navigation when I reach the end of the page.

    Think about that and give it another go.

    • Daniel Bacon

      Good points. I’m thinking we can hook the search in the header to Google Ajax search (works really well on my site). The text area at the bottom (should have been a white text box) is an SEO area to use if you’re going for a pure search approach like

    • Daniel Bacon

      Great points. I’m thinking we’ll hook the search in the header to Google Ajax, so it will return anything that is indexed. This works really well on my site. I also prefer the simplified menu structure, which will be up to each participant individually. The text box above the footer is meant to be a SEO text area, so if we want to go with a minimalist design we can just show the search box and whatever we want under it, something like

  • John Stegner

    The design feels a little “heavy” for me.  Not enough white space and a bit dark.  This is subjective, so more a suggestion.  The good part is that a blue/white combo has tested as the best color scheme for e-commerce: Blue color schemes test highest in “trustworthiness”.  Since real estate is all about trust, this is key. I just think that the blue is overdone making the site too graphically intense.  White space helps the visitor focus on on icons or items on the site.  I think this design does not provide that guidance as far as where they should go first.  An example is the background behind the 3 navigation options, market info, what is my home worth and why we are different.  It is difficult to quickly read what those are with the wave imagery behind the text. Obviously the phone number in the header needs work. I would like a larger font size in the simple search that sits over the primary image.  The simple search should jump out big time and now I think it blends in too much. I would like to see a “Team” or “Our Agents” link add to the primary navigation at the top.  Since the goal for this is to generate so many leads that all involved will need to have teams to work them all, we might as well plan for success in the navigation and have a great sub page with the agents.  Good agent pages help recruiting as well, example here:  

    1) Fix phone number/header
    2) make simple search jump out & increase text size to grab attention
    3) increase use of white space
    4) Add “team” or “agents” link to top nav

    • John Stegner

      This being said, my suggestions could all be customized to my site, utilizing the current design. Overall, it is very strong and something I am looking forward to working with.  

    • I agree it’s too intense. There should already be more white space than there is, for instance the market info row boxes were supposed to be white (designer missed it). I’m thinking we should reduce the space between elements to show less background. It’s nice design-wise, but is wasted space and could be reduced while still being effective.

  • Alin Zdroba

    I like and agree with each and every statement above. No wonder M2 is a very good example of what to do when it comes to website design (and more).

  • Great recommendations here. 

  • Great points. I’m thinking we’ll hook up the search in the header to Google Ajax, which returns anything that is indexed. I prefer the simpler menu too, of course it will be up to each participant what they want to include. And the box above the footer is meant to be a SEO text area, so you can do a pure search based design if you want, something along the lines of

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