About a month ago, I shared some thoughts from Seth Siegler regarding the website redesign project he was undertaking. In that post, I said that anyone working on a redesign or planning to in the near future willing to share their thoughts could e-mail me — and Lisa Barton took me up on the offer due to the fact that she just went through a major site overhaul (completed by Livingston & Partners)! The new site can be seen at lisasellspontevedra.com and focuses on Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra Real Estate. I spoke with her on the phone and discussed her site redesign and, as a follow up, had the chance to send her a few questions via e-mail to post here on Geek Estate. Here are my questions and her responses:
Q: What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome during the redesign?
A: This is my first website and I found that the biggest obstacle I had to overcome was my own lack of knowledge. A big part of my website designer’s job was helping me understand how search engines work and how the content, text and pictures function to drive business to the site. Also, I didn’t anticipate the huge time commitment necessary to get the website going and then keep it relevant and working properly. Finally, an obstacle that I hadn’t anticipated was designing a method of keeping track of the traffic and following up on potential leads.
Q: What was your goal going into the project?
A: My goal was twofold. First, I wanted a site that my customers could use to look for properties, and then save those properties and forward them on to friends or family. I also wanted my customers who were new to this area to be able to use the site as a source of information, both about homes and also about the community. The second goal was to help me generate new potential customers. One of the side benefits has been the advertising for my listings. Sellers are pleased when their property is presented as a featured listing on the home page of the site.
Q: Tell us a little bit about your experience working with a freelance developer (Jon Livingston) to build a completely custom site. Why did you choose to go that route rather than starting with a template site from a web site design company?
A: I looked at several web site design companies, and while their templates were OK, I couldn’t get the exact look and feel that I wanted for my site. It was important to me that the site conform with the rest of my marketing efforts. My business cards, stationary, etc. all share a similar style. I work in an upscale and relatively expensive area and I wanted the site to be sophisticated and cater to the people who can afford property here at the beach.
Jon was terrific. He spent a lot of time listening. He was able to incorporate all the items that I wanted as well as add several features that I hadn’t considered. Jon was so patient and he spent a lot of time describing how the web and the IDX system we’re using function. At this point we have a nice partnership, and he’s continuing to update and improve the site. One of my core values is to work with local vendors and support my community. Jon lives and works here in Jacksonville and he’s available to help me, even on the weekends, which is great!
Q: What do you think the best feature is on your new web site?
A: I think the Communities and Neighborhoods pages are a good feature. Our city is made up of several separate towns or communities. The site features an introduction to each Community and then provides additional information about the Neighborhoods within each Community. The search feature allows people to search for homes in each specific Community and Neighborhood (whatever page they’re on). That feature was time consuming from a programming standpoint, but I think it will make searching for properties easier for customers.
Q: What sort of feedback have you gotten from clients as a result of the redesign?
A: So far the feedback has been fantastic. The site has only been live for about a month and we’re still working on making it more attractive to the search engines, but I’ve already gotten calls from potential customers who found my site when they were searching for properties. My current customers and friends have given me really positive feedback. I think it’s a strong signal to people that I’m taking my real estate career seriously.
Thanks for sharing your learnings Lisa!