August 13, 2021
Our Best Estate Agent Website Design & Development Tips
It’s become apparent that between LWDA and our sister agency Devstars, we’re carving a nice little niche in Estate Agent Website Design & Development.
We like to work across all sectors – after all, variety is the spice of life – but sometimes creative agencies will find themselves becoming known for a particular type of work.
This sort of thing often happens organically, which is how things are evolving for us.
We have two more property websites in development at the time of writing, with additional inquiries for future projects. It’s fantastic!
So this got us thinking. What have we learnt from designing and developing property websites over the past couple of years? And how can we help others in this sector plan for a new property website build?
Different types of property websites
The property sector operates on several fronts, each requiring its approach to design & development.
The sector spilts into 4 sub-categories:
- Estate Agent Websites – The traditional high street estate agent that covers your local area for both sales and rentals
- Property Development/Real Estate Agent Websites – Focussing on selling homes within a specific development.
- Resort Websites – Selling or renting holiday homes and chalets. Often in beach resorts and Alpine regions.
- Holiday home websites – Promoting a privately run holiday property
The scope of these sites ranges from small (up to 6 or 7 pages for holiday home websites) to much larger websites featuring hundreds of pages, driven by robust industry-standard CRM tools such as Salesforce and Propertybase.
We help smaller clients secure their first online presence and more established property brands re-launch their websites with faster, more secure solutions.
Our first article will look at estate agent websites and share our top insights and tips for creating a new site that is truly fit for purpose.
Estate Agent Website Design & Development
I know what you might be thinking. In an age of Zoopla and Rightmove, why would an estate agent need a website?
Many renters & buyers use mobile apps to search for properties, so it seems fruitless to invest in a website of your own. But this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Property apps are a driving force in the industry – and every estate agent should arguably be listed on them. However, running your website to help target specific customers is a great way to drive sales and avoid commission fees.
Benefits of running your own estate agent website
In writing this article, I found myself thinking of the previous 18-24 months, where I had been both a buyer and renter.
How did I find the properties I was interested in? How detailed were the property listings? Was it easy to find the information I needed on the websites, and how easy was it to get in touch with the agent?
Here are some of my findings:
- I built a report directly with agents – Even if your customers initially contact you through Zoopla or Rightmove, you then have the chance to make a good relationship and direct them to your website for future property searches.
- I enjoyed visiting agents and talking face-to-face – For customers that already know which locations they are interested in are likely to search online for estate agents in those areas and visit them. (see Local SEO below)
- Excellent presentation and communication was essential – A big part of attracting customers is communicating the right message. A beautiful website written in a great tone of voice will connect with your target market, attracting the kind of tenants you’re landlords are looking for.
Estate Agent website design case study
One estate agent who understood the benefits of redesigning their website was Peach Properties in Shoreditch, London.
Peach contacted us seeking a new website solution to integrate with their existing systems and provide their customers with a smoother online experience. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.
These are the top 10 website improvements that Peach Properties were looking for:
- Site speed
- Better navigation
- Increase enquiries
- Local SEO
- Boost trust by utilising online reviews via Google
- Premium Design
- Better CRM integration
- Grow customer database
- Easy website management
- Easy access to their maintenance platform for existing renters.
So let’s take a quick look at each of these in more detail.
The existing website was built using a system that was detailed but slow.
Site speed is crucial for ranking well in search engines such as Google, primarily due to the popularity of mobile devices, which can quickly drive over 50% of traffic to your website.
A good website developer will streamline their code so that pages load quickly, helping to improve your site ranking in the process.
If your website is slow, we suggest running an audit using some great website testing tools that you can discover via this article.
If you have tried all you can to speed up your site, it may be time to consider a fresh design and build.
The old Peach website suffered from a cluttered navigation bar that confused users and felt overwhelming.
Users were often left wondering if the site was working correctly due to broken links. This caused frustration and a drop in dwell time.
Including only the most essential links within the main navigation and moving the rest to the footer is an excellent way to focus the users’ attention. Guiding them to key areas of interest quickly and smoothly.
Well-structured enquiry forms are key to driving customer engagement.
Making sure that customers can easily get in touch is a primary goal for any estate agent website.
In the case of Peach Properties, we developed a range of forms to handle different types of enquiries:
- Looking for a property to rent
- Looking for a property to buy
- Landlords with a property to let
- Owners with a property to sell
Developing unique enquiry forms can help your team manage their workload and save valuable time.
With each form directing enquiries to a specific team or individual, no single team member is overloaded with enquiries.
Your SEO game needs to be strong if you wish to be found on search engines such as Google and beat your competitors to the top of the rankings.
Including pages that focus on specific neighbourhoods with informative content will help you target customers in those areas.
Making sure you have a strong presence on Google My Business should also be at the top of your list.
Google loves to see companies using their tools and give you a nice little boost in the rankings if you use them regularly.
We recommend that you post updates about the local area, new property listings and exciting news about the property market in general.
Posting regularly to GMB will help position your agency as expert in your field.
You may also want to consider running a news blog directly on your website.
A Google reviews feed can help boost trust in your brand and services.
Google reviews are another valuable part of GMB that should be harnessed to drive trust in your brand.
We helped Peach Properties leverage their reviews by placing them throughout the new website.
These reviews showed potential customers that real people had used their services and experience a positive outcome.
Users are always looking for honesty and transparency, so great reviews from real customers are worth their weight in gold.
Premium Website Design
Many specialist CRM tools offer a great way to manage your data but often lack personality and design flair.
A unique design is crucial to standing out amongst the crowd and reaching the right audience.
Peach wanted to attract landlords with higher value homes to rent and sell, so their new website design needed to reflect this market sector.
Working to the client brief and with their new brand in mind, we created a clean, fresh and modern website design that perfectly targeted the more affluent customers that they wanted to attract.
A fresh new design with big images that really showed off the properties to their best.
This screenshot also shows data feed fields which were style and spaced niced to help the eye track across the information.
Better Property CRM integration
Like many estate agents, Peach Properties use an industry-standard CRM for managing their properties.
All good estate agent CRM tools include a data feed that details a wide variety of property features. Each feature is a data field, such as property type, location, price, map, number of bedrooms, etc.
There are often far more data fields than required, so the website needs to understand which parts of the feed are related to which property type – Rentals, Sales and Commercial properties – and show only the required data fields on the front end.
This is where a great development team prove their worth.
Our developers delivered exactly what was required for each property type—avoiding the risk of overloading the user with information that didn’t apply to their needs.
A well-organised footer is often a great place for a mailing list subscription form.
Grow customer database
Peach wanted to give users the chance to sign up to their mailing list without needing to submit a property enquiry.
We made sure that a subscribe form was always available in the footer of the website for those that wished to subscribe to the newsletter.
Email newsletters are still the best way to reach potential customers, so make sure you include one on your website.
Easy website management
Much of the site is populated by the CRM on the fly (all the property pages build themselves, which is exactly what the client wanted), but a secure WordPress CMS allows for the editing of custom pages that were not available via the CRM.
These pages help with SEO and contain FAQ-style content that may require regular updating.
All other information, such as contact details and social links are also editable via the CMS, giving as much control over content to the client as possible.
Easy access to maintenance platform for existing renters
Finally, the client wanted to give existing rental customers easy access to a maintenance portal.
A link in the main navigation styled as a spanner/wrench acts as the gateway to their maintenance platform. From there, renters can report property issues and download their property management app.
All-in-all, this was quite a wish list. But when you are an estate agent operating at the top end of the market in your local area, you need your website to perform at its best.
You’ll want the experience of navigating your website to be enjoyable, informative and rewarding for the user. Not to mention having it generate an increase in enquiries.
To provide this experience, the website needs to look great, function well on desktop & mobile devices, and give the customer with as many opportunities to get in touch as possible.
We hope you found this article helpful, and we invite you to stay tuned for our next article, which will focus on property development websites (aka real estate agents).
We’re always happy to listen and be open and honest with our advice.
We look forward to hearing from you!