10 Essential Design Questions to Ask When Building Real Estate Websites

This guest post by our Design Ninja, Roxanne, will help you identify and answer the most important questions when it comes to designing your real estate website

Let’s face it: building a new real estate website can be daunting. So much to decide, to collect, to do.

We’d like to help you sift through the chaos and nail down the Big Ideas that will make this task a little more palatable – and dare I say, fun?

Having the answers to the questions in this article will not only fill in the blanks for your new website but make decisions easier when it comes to marketing your business.

We’ve also put together a downloadable worksheet that you can print and answer these questions on paper! Scroll to the bottom of this post to download that worksheet now.

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The top 3 questions:

  1. Who are you?
  2. What do you do?
  3. Why does it matter?

Think of the answers to these three questions as your elevator pitch.

Even if your answer to #1 is not for you as an agent but rather for your business, following it up with what your specific focus is – and your WHY – makes you become that much more compelling. It also helps you design your website experience for a targeted visitor.

An example of an ideal statement in response to these questions might be:

  1. I am Emily Smith, a real estate agent in Surrey, BC. I’m a 35 year old woman who is married with one child and who has grown up in Surrey.
  2. I help young families find affordable homes that provide the best value for their lifestyle, and provide aggressive marketing and negotiation tactics when buying and selling homes.
  3. What I do matters because I understand through experience what it’s like to be in the client’s shoes. I know what they are looking for and what’s important in their position, and am best equipped to help this market over people with different experience. This market needs someone like me to navigate their real estate journeys.

Notice how specific these statements are. We did not stop writing after “My name is Emily and I sell condos in Surrey.” We thought about the WHY – why should anyone choose you over Sally who’s directly competing with you?

Coming to these conclusions may be difficult, which is why this is a 10 question list, and not three…

Question #4. Who do I want to help the most?

The biggest hole you can fall into when starting a new website and setting up about your marketing is thinking, “I don’t want to target anyone specifically because then people outside that target won’t think I’m talking to them.”

website design target market

While it’s true that you won’t be talking to everyone like you are to your target, you aren’t excluding everyone by focusing your language either. Focusing your communication positions you as an expert in that field. Being an expert brings trust to the table, which is possibly the most important thing about how you come across online and offline (to anybody!)

Remember telling your kids (or being told), “Don’t trust strangers online”?

Talking about one’s real estate journey can be incredibly personal, so proving that you’re the right person to deal with in at least ONE scenario can open the doors to others. Done right, advertising that you’re well-versed in first time home buyers’ needs won’t close the door on a downsizer – they might just think “Great, can they help my son buy his first house? I’ll ask them to keep an eye out for what I’m looking for, too.”

Thinking about your target audience is important because the demographics should dictate most things about the way you present your information. Certain demographics use mobile devices more, some have higher accessibility needs, etc. Remember – the website is not for you, it’s for the people who will be using it – your potential leads!

the brand group

“If I can trust the maker, I can buy it now and worry about it later. The degree of trust I feel towards the product, rather than an assessment of it’s features and benefits, will determine whether I buy this product, or that product.” – The Brand Gap, Marty Neumeier

Question #5. What is your offer?

And by “offer” in this case, I just mean what are you doing differently than other people in your sphere?

This might mean you have worked more on your negotiation skills, or you put more time and money into online marketing. Maybe you donate a portion of each commission to a local charity. Highlight these differences, because the work you’ve done to improve your services deserve to be shown – and it will ultimately be the reason someone chooses you over your competitor.

Don’t be afraid to show certification logos or stories of people that you’ve helped through doing business!

Question #6. What information do you want to provide?

Knowing what resources you want to cover is a good place to start when you’re planning your website.

Even if you have big ideas, a list of at least the next few months to a year’s plan of content is a great thing to have. If your list is so long that it stresses you out, simplify! While you may not be a writer or enjoy writing, your voice is important to include on your website because it will help the person viewing it get to know you faster.

Info to provide via real estate website

I’m also willing to bet that you are probably a wealth of information when it comes to awesome things in your area, local businesses that deserve highlights, “top 10” list ideas of things to do on a rainy Sunday, and more.

Share this info and you’ll be seen as an expert in your field, which is a great reason for someone to choose you to sell their home in the neighbourhood.

Question #7. Which of that info is most important?

Once you have a list of ideas that you want to provide personalized content on, prioritize it by pulling out the ones that are most likely to be asked about or lead to a conversion.

These may be full pages on:

  • Details of your marketing strategies,
  • Common first-time buying questions,
  • Resources for downsizers,
  • Personally-picked investment opportunities,
  • and more!

Notice how these are pretty specific. Having pages with information like this is great because they’re using targeted words that your potential clients will be using to search for.

Not only will it help you organically in your search engine results, but when people see that you provide content specific to what they’re looking for, imagine their relief and how powerful it could be in making the decision to choose an agent!

Question #8. What content needs to be gathered?

The conclusion to the content questions, it’s time to plan how to actually GATHER that content.

I made the point that you may not feel like you can or want to do the content yourself. While you might be the area expert, it’s definitely a viable solution to hire a writing expert to do the job! Identify the content that you could possibly outsource, the things you can do yourself, or the things that your brokerage might even provide (buyers/sellers guides, etc.).

Also think about the photos and imagery that should accompany these items – can you snap a pic on your next dog walk around the neighbourhood? Are you checking out a local farm with the kids this weekend that you could grab a picture of before you leave?

getting content for your website

Gathering a little “cache” of items like this is absolutely priceless. Don’t forget about gathering testimonials, too!

[-_-]~~ Ninja tip: Don’t just stop at articles and pages with these ideas – could snippets of them be used as social media posts? Especially consider the photo cache you are gathering and include little notes about what you love about these places or moments on Twitter or Instagram to give a little look at the REALTOR® behind the services.

Question #9. How do you expect people to use your website?

Okay, you might be looking at this question and thinking “Isn’t that what the designer’s for?”

Yes, but hear me out: You know your clients better than anyone. You’ve worked with them through arguably one of the most sensitive moments in their life. It’s likely that you’ve noticed some common questions, reactions, or habits in the people that you liked to work with the most. And let’s be honest – the real goal here is getting you MORE of those people, not just anyone!

If you’re new to the game and you’re not quite sure about this, create a persona that describes your Ideal Client. What do they like to do? How do they like to receive information? Are they DIY-ers or usually too stressed that they need someone to do everything for them (or somewhere in between)?

how people use your website

Put yourself in their shoes and think about the answers to these, because it will answer many things like:

  • “Should I be making more videos?” (If this is your clients’ preferred method of gathering information, yes)
  • “Is it really important for me to put photos of myself everywhere?” (If your clients are more likely to just use your site for looking at listings and general info, no)
  • “Is it more impactful for me to make my phone number really big instead of a form at the end?” (If your clients are more likely to pick up the phone rather than use electronic communication, yes)

Question #10. How will you be getting people to your website?

Last but not least – you have to have some sort of plan on announcing your website.

Traditional methods include adding your domain name to door hangers, postcards, and flyers when you farm neighbourhoods. New methods include Google Adwords campaigns, Facebook/Instagram ads, etc.

If you don’t tell anyone that you have a website, no one will know it exists. The good thing is that the amount of people that know about your website is a compounding number: Google puts more weight on your search result ranking when they see that your site is a Real Thing, so you’ll get more people that way when they search for keywords that match what your site offers.

linkedin sales

Lastly, the methods you are using to get your name out there should always match what you show online – use similar imagery on your website, the same typography, the same calls to action, and it will be a faster hook for potential clients.

To help you get a firm hold on your website design strategy, we’ve put together a worksheet that helps you answer the 10 questions above in one place. Please download the worksheet using the form below, and let us know if you have any questions or need any help.

Have an awesome day!

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