I wanted to take a stab at incorporating some of the design feedback that was received regarding Drew’s two wireframe layouts. The first option was the one that was most liked and used as the basis of my revision. Here is the result of that effort (click on the image to view alone in the browser and then click again on the image once in the new window to zoom in and see the expanded view):

Wireframe #3 - www.TopHomesForSaleCO.com First, I put in some language specific tweaks to the Northern Colorado Real Estate  site we are redesigning for this project. The language helped me get a better feel for the design elements. The basis for this revision is to express a meaningful brand and at the same time communicate that this is the one stop shop for home searching in Northern Colorado. With these as the primary messages at first glance, lead generation will (hopefully) follow.

If you look at the primary navigation options and the most precious space at the top half of the wireframe, I see it this way:

  1. In the top navigation bar and below you give the site visitor 4 opportunities to begin looking at properties, 3 entries into your traditional IDX and 1 into the mobile version.
  2. In addition to IDX lead capture, you have the opportunity to capture visitor information with the “Real Estate News & Events” subscription.
  3. You also have the phone number clearly visible at all times in the header.  This gives people the opportunity to impulsively pick up the phone and call you while reading your brilliant content or while looking at that perfect home they decide they just have to see. It seems this phone contact option is often overlooked. When meeting with a new agent who is about to join my firm, I was surprised at how bad his company’s web site was and yet it was making the phone ring.  The take away for me when looking at the site was that the phone number was the primary call to action. I think this is often overlooked in design. I made this mistake on my Denver Lofts site as you have to work hard to find a phone number.  Yet, the phone calls are the best leads we get. We may want to think about how to make it more visible in the wireframe above.

What I see as secondary navigation options are the:

  1. Explore communities section which will appeal to those relocation buyers who are doing their research. I envision these secondary pages as having blog posts (which I call articles as I think it is better language for a consumer) that relate to the city/neighborhood as well as a zoomed in IDX entry showing a map of that city/neighborhood with active listings. They get both good content and another entry into the IDX. You should be seen as an expert in the area and hopefully they register on the IDX with better contact information because of this.
  2. The three articles below this (market update, home value & company info) are all great opportunities to demonstrate expertise and let visitors “interview you” online.
  3. The Blog roll comes next and will keep current content on the home page for SEO purposes. These articles will provide an entry point for those research oriented visitors. I see these secondary pages as having the article they selected as well as a categories navigation structure for easy access to your full history of articles/blogs.

Other thoughts:

1) I took out “current listings” as depending on the size of the company or individual, these sections can be weak on many sites. We all have fluctuations in inventory.  What I would suggest is a great blog article about each listing you take. These will make your clients happy, but they will also show the public what a great marketing genius you are.  Finally, rather than a “current listings” section you will have a category of blog articles about your listings.  Over time this will become very impressive and in the comments below each one you can have your clients give a testimonial and write about how quickly you sold the home.

2) I moved some of the navigation from the bottom of Drew’s first option to the top navigation bar and changed a few of the options. Examples:

  • Meet The Team – Important from a branding perspective, and could help get the rest of the company or team engaged with the site. From a Team Lead or Brokerage perspective, if you allow other agents in the company a place to blog as well as have their own entry into the IDX it will be very beneficial. Free blog content from other agents in the company will help SEO. Further, with url tracking, agents won’t hesitate to send their clients to their page on the “company or team site” to use the IDX.  This could allow for cost savings for agents who struggle to maintain a web site of their own and improve retention.
  • Area Resources —  This could be a deep section with outbound authority links to area resource pages of interest such as school reports. I’m thinking .gov, .org, .edu links that help on the SEO front. Further, if you have preferred vendors, you can add them here with their Google Place page or just phone number. In exchange you ask for a non-reciprocal link back to your site. This will help kick-start the SEO efforts.

3) The social media icons were not moved, but this should be discussed as it was suggested in a comment. Many agents struggle with both blogging and keeping the social media integration up to date. I think that if we can get visitors to subscribe to the newsletter and receive the new blog posts via e-mail, that is the best way to stay in front of them. Maybe I’m wrong here? Back when blogging first hit the scene, I subscribed to Miamism.com and enjoyed their work so much that I kept on their list for a couple of years. NOTE: per my previous observation, if you do visit the Miamism site, the phone number is font and center….we should consider how to do this better than I have above.

Two final concerns with the wireframe.

  1. There may be just too much in it? Perhaps it should be stripped down to have fewer options and more white space? I’d love to get some feedback on how to simplify.
  2. Is it too text heavy? Images are limited to: one in the header, the map is an image, there will be 3 images in the explore communities section. Of course, it should load very fast and still be eye catching, but it does not leave room for a design like this msqrealty.com which I do feel is very strong.

I hope this helps kick off further revisions and ultimately some great sites that express a meaningful brand and have fantastic conversion rates.  Now, rip it apart!

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.