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Website Design & Usability Make a Huge Difference

Design your site for your users and not your ego. Lets face it, most users landing on a real estate site are most interested in searching for properties not whether you are a GRI, CRS, CRE, ABR, SRES, etc…. I think you get the point.

I re-designed my site back at the end of 2008. The goal was to give the user more what they wanted and easy for them to get there. If you do that your conversions will drastically increase!! My old sites home page and main area landing pages had several call to actions links like: MLS Search, etc… to get the user to the property search page.  They actually converted alright, but there was definitely a lot of room for improvement.

adrhiOn the new site we placed the Property Search on the Home and Area pages above the fold. It is easy to use and gets the users quickly to search results. We also started pulling in the newest listings on the area pages so the user could also see they were listings to view in that area (kind of like an example). That also helped with new fresh content.  Another important change was the new contact and sign up forms. We made them pop up in light boxes instead bouncing them to a different page to make it less confusing and a better user experience. All these changes made a huge difference in conversions, bounce rates, pages views per user and actual time spent on the site.  It also increased our returning visitors substantially.

Below are some stats from our analytics comparing them before and after.

Here are some of the old sites bounce rates:
Oahu – 28%, Kauai – 37%, Maui – 31% & Big Island – 30% with an average of 31.5% of all the area pages.

Here are the new websites bounce rates:
Oahu – 15%, Kauai – 13%, Maui 18% & Big Island – 20% with an average of 16.5%. That is a 50% decrease in the actual bounce rate.

Here are some other interesting numbers to look at as well:
The home page also saw a decrease of about 30% in its bounce rate.  Our sign ups went up by 50% mainly because of the way we started doing our sign up forms. The average page views saw a 33% increase and went up to 10.5 page views per user from 7 page views per user.  We also even saw a huge increase on the average time spent on the site from 3:30 minutes to over 6:30 minutes per user.

The next big feature we have been working on is our interactive map search. The goal here is the same. Give the user what they are looking for plus make it simple and easy to use. We think it is very important for the user to be able to scan results and also see the properties on the map. We also think it is a better user experience if the user doesn’t get bounced from page to page and not know how to get back. That is why we display the properties on the left side and the map on the right plus we Ajax in the properties were the map is for the user. They can then page from property to property and easily get back to the map. You can check the beta map search out by doing an advanced search here. Choose your area and then click on map search.

Maybe next time we can discuss ways to improve conversions by using a good lead manager (CRM) and also what you are sending the user as far as email updates.
Map - Lead Manager
I would love to hear how you have been able to improve your bounce rates, page views per user and most important, your conversions into real business 🙂

FYI: We also did the same thing on this San Diego real estate site and the sign ups went up over 400%. The site design and usability does make a difference no matter what market you are in. For those of you that say your market is unique 😉

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  • I am looking forward to trying out your new website…and can't wait to see how the “lead management” is handled.

    Good luck!

    Don

  • Laurent

    I don't like that you have to provide so much informaton (or any at all) to view property details. It's a huge turn off to many people.

    The number of people who sign up doesn't matter. It's quality of the leads that matter.

    If someone is interested in something you have for sale or your services, they'll contact you on their own free will. Just make sure it's easy to do so and you'll build a list of people who actually want to hear from you instead of people who's arm you had to twist.

    Other than that I like the ideas you talk about. A suggestion I may have is that once you click a sub-region on the map it could lead to search results right away without having to click the search button. I didn't realize at first that the map was filling up the form data, I though it was two seperate ways to search.

    • Bob

      Laurent, do you have data to support your opinion that more leads means lesser quality?

      “If someone is interested in something you have for sale or your services, they'll contact you on their own free will.”

      Confucius say, “Man who wait for Peking Duck to fly into mouth will soon starve.”

  • Searchers varies. The best way to achieve potential customer is convenience. Convenience in the sense that “in a snap”, they gain access to what they are looking for. Pressing so many buttons is a No-no.

  • Pingback: How To: Eliminate the Guesswork from Site Design | GeekEstate Blog()

  • You have put your point forward very nicely. I too agree that if we provide the users with what they want then we are bound to attract them, this will also increase website traffic. If websites are simple and easy to use then users like to visit it again and again which increases the number of daily visitors.

  • Pingback: How To Manage Your Leads More Efficiently | GeekEstate Blog()

  • fprice

    What about the new trend with live managed chat supporting Real Estate websites? Isn't there a “gap” between web traffic and engagement in conversation between buyer and Realtor?

  • Jeff,

    I really want to thank you for writing this post. I few months ago I decided to move my site to Thesis and revamp the design, and I got on the calendar wait list with a great web designer. I got the call that they were about ready to start on my site about the same time you posted this. I loved the new design and actually pointed my designer to your home page to explain what I wanted.

    My entire site was redesigned to promote the home search, especially on the home page, and to point people towards specific actions that I wanted them to take.

    I just launched the new site yesterday and so far the feedback has been great. I have no doubt that it will increase my business.

    Thank you!

  • nice web design blog, this website color theme is more attractive.
    I Like it

    Thanks
    Spink ITES

  • I strongly agree on this. Avoiding deep links is a good way to make new visitors click the checkout button. Don't keep them going around in a maze-like layers of pages and links. Keep it simple and straightforward.

  • I strongly agree on this. Avoiding deep links is a good way to make new visitors click the checkout button. Don't keep them going around in a maze-like layers of pages and links. Keep it simple and straightforward.

  • I have been searching the google for such info and just wanted to thank u for the post. By the way, just off topic, where can i get a version of this theme? – 10x

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