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Realtor.com's New Digs: Getting Slim and Cozy

Realtor.com just went through a major design overhaul and I thought it would be interesting to see the reaction of the tech crowd. It looks to me like it’s a move in the direction of most of the larger internet-based companies: simplify, streamline, and create a sleek, modern feel. (Disclaimer: I’m a guest writer for Realtor.com, but I receive no compensation or financial incentives from the company.  I just enjoy picking apart this stuff.)

Realtor.com new website design

The home page for first-time visitors has been redesigned with just a few buttons and options. This seems to agree with most of the research we’re seeing about consumer behavior online. The more choices a web visitor has, the more likely they’ll become confused and just leave the site. Give them fewer options and they’ll feel more in control, stay longer, keep page views up, and bounce rates down.

Realtor.com new logoThe logo has a new design, one that might surprise the Realtor community at first, with its dramatic departure from the traditional blocky capital letters and “Realtor R”. The idea behind the new logo seems to be tied in with the tagline “Where home happens.” The home is at the center of the circle, created by an accumulation of lines that might signify the process involved with creating that home. Don’t think I’m just waxing poetic here. As Andrew Strickman, VP of Brand and Creative put it, “Our new logo, typography, and tagline amplify the human connection between consumers and the emotional process of finding or selling a home.”

Speaking of typography, the logo and taglines are all lowercase, sans-serif fonts. The appeal here seems to be a softening of the branding, creating less of an institutional “We are the industry” feel, and more of a “we’re part of your home buying/selling process.”

Realtor.com new design returning visitors

As a user returns to the site for a second time, there is a dramatically different feel. The layout has adapted to the location of the user’s last search, and a more in-depth home page appears with local real estate listings, market data, Q&A, etc.  Blogs, real estate industry links, social media, and a plethora of other choices become a standard part of the layout. The thinking here is likely that once a web visitor becomes a repeat visitor they are already in a comfort zone, and adding a wider variety of choices won’t “scare them away” like it might for a first-time visitor.

Realtor.com sign-in bar

Also, notice the active bar at the bottom of the browser window. It’s a quick access bar to launch logins, searches, and favorite listings.

It’s an interesting new logo, design, and strategy. Any thoughts?

About Sam DeBord

Sam DeBord is a former management consultant and web developer who writes for for Inman News and REALTOR® Magazine. He is Managing Broker for Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth, and 2016 President-Elect of Seattle King County REALTORS®. His team sells Seattle homes, condos, and Bellevue homes.

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  • Good analysis Sam. I’ve got a few others you can read here at http://VendorAlley.com/2013/03/05/realtor-com-gets-its-groove-on/

  • Well, given that NAR sold off Realtor.com a long time ago, I guess it was time to move on from the NAR logo or Realtor R.

    In addition to the design changes you mentioned, this site now has this soft pastel teal like color scheme that, if I were to guess, is soothing to the eye and mind.

    I’m a big fan of simpler is better. For example, the clutter of Facebook is what drives me to Google+. Websites that I can navigate easily by finding the information I want quickly go to the top of my list.

    I haven’t had a chance to look at the “enhanced listings” or their advertising scheme (for agents) as it is incorporated in the new design. Honestly, though, I think I’m done sending any of the aggregators money.

    I would love to see Realtor.com give Trulia and, especially, Zillow a run for their money.

  • The logo is awful. If the goal is to be more human, I think using a spaceship house as the symbol for the brand is the opposite .

  • therecoach

    Nice breakdown Sam =) What I found most interesting was the apparent “Distancing” from N.A.R. Prior to this roll-out you saw the Owner of the site prominently displayed on the Home Page, and of course through the use of the REALTOR(c) logo. Perhaps the fact that, after rocketing to the top of the Real Estate Search arena, they have been getting beat down by Zillow & Trulia as of late had something to do with this?

    Results of focus groups had indicated that Consumers thought of the site as a “Pulpit for N.A.R. Propaganda” and looked for something more “Transparent”.

    I like the new site and the decision to “Move” (LOL) away from the association with N.A.R. allowing it to grow on it’s own.

    Thanks for the insight

    Coach

    • I like most of the redesign. Any distancing from the Realtor brand makes me nervous. Focus groups are interesting, as the bad comments seem to stick out far more than the good ones.

      I don’t think that the majority of consumers even consider the pulpit/propaganda/point of view necessarily. They’re just looking for accurate listings. A few vocal critics could certainly sway the opinion of a design team.

  • The redesign of the website does not pop out at me. Home shopping on line is very visual. There is no drama. Maybe it’s the colors and scale on the home page

  • The color palette is just wrong for the web.

    • I don’t think the color palette is all that bad, it’s just the use and placement of the colors that is wrong

  • I actually took a big look at this new site design. I feel like there are some major hierarchy issues with the text on the page. Headlines are too small, text runs together and becomes “gray.” It’s hard to distinguish between the different blocks of content. The whole top half, above the fold, search and image carousel looks off center. The entire footer is a mess of clumped together text and info. I actually did a quick mock up this page design addressing these issues to see what it would look like with some different design options and better hierarchy

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