Within 5 seconds of someone landing on your commercial real estate website, can visitors determine what your company does? Listing accolades and past projects is wonderful, but if visitors cannot understand what you do, it’s a wasted effort. Time to look at your commercial real estate website critically. Use these tips as a checklist to improve your website’s message, functionality and overall design.
A website cannot succeed by excelling in just one aspect – design, content, or functionality. It needs all three to have an outstanding user experience.
1. Identify pain points. A visitor has come to your website for a reason. What is it? Do they have retail space that’s sitting vacant? Do they have an industrial building to sell? Are they a business owner looking to expand into a new location? These “paint points” are the reasons potential clients hire folks like you. Address how you will help these issues.
For instance, instead of titling your page “Tenant Rep”, you may want to consider wording it, “Space for your business.” Address all the services provided for tenant representation without using jargon-words. Potential tenants may be interested in: demographics of an area, locations of their main competitors, traffic counts, and lease rate comparisons.
State clearly what you provide for each of these interests. “Demographics Research – Analysis of prime locations where your ideal customers reside. A full demographic profile can help you make informed decisions on the best locations for your business.”
It seems easy, but you’d be shocked at how many commercial real estate websites write a bullet point list of services and leave the page unexplained.
2. Focus on the result. Everyone can list services provided until their fingers fall off. The key to getting visitors to take those descriptions seriously is by focusing on the result they provide. This doesn’t have to be a huge list of properties you’ve closed. This is best when done as a simple “emotional tactic”.
For instance, if you’re a tenant rep advisor, consider a video of people checking out a new office space on your home page. Tell a story about a client that had a problem (like a landlord that jacked up rents) and how you solved it with successful negotiations or finding a cheaper property in a better location.
People want to know how you’re going to fix their problem. A list of historical clientele is nice, but a true story of conquering the day shows your understanding of the issue.
3. New, relevant content. I’m constantly beating this drum, but relevant content in the form of a blog, social media, and/or video channel will propel your website’s rankings. Google still picks up my blogs from 2011. In today’s world, the internet needs good, honest content. If you take the time to provide honest advice on subjects relevant to your target market and tell stories of your recent experiences, it will help boost your rankings and internet cred.
4. Take it easy on the embedded video. I know I suggested an embedded video in tip #2, but people tend to over-use them. Not every page needs a video on the header. It may look cool, but all the videos will kill your load time. No one’s going to stick around for 2-minutes for your ninth video to load. Also, too many videos will bog down your server, making the entire website (even non-video pages) slow. A rule of thumb is to use one embedded video on your home page. Use videos freely on your site; but use a service like YouTube or Vimeo. They may not look as cool, but your 100+ streaming videos won’t affect your website’s load time. It doesn’t matter if a website looks cool if no one waits through the load-time to view it.
5. Limit animations. Those fly-in bullet points and photos sure look cool…the first time. Then your visitors start rolling their eyes as your 1-millionth fly-in takes 10-seconds to load. “I’m just trying to read the page!! Stop flying everywhere!” If you insist on animated fly-ins, fade-ins, etc., please leave them to the home page. The content pages should be easy-to-read without a bunch of unnecessary pomp.
6. Calls-to-action. I’m sorry, but “Call me for a free consultation” isn’t a great call-to-action. Everyone offers that! If you want to get the most out of your website, you’ll need at least 1 white paper. A “white paper” is an informative piece that your target market would like to read. “12 Reasons Why Tenant Improvements are Bad News”. Think of tips or stories you often tell your clients during the consultation. People can sniff out a sales piece so keep it purely informative. You can discuss services and sales offers on the last page.
7. Navigation. Don’t get creative with the menu items. “Home” should always be on the left, “Contact” should always be on the right. When someone decides to put “Contact” in the middle, it takes me 10-minutes to find the dang thing. Don’t do that!
Menus should be responsive and tested for all sizes. Before launching a website or a new menu item, make your browser as large as possible. Slowly move it smaller and smaller. You’re looking for tiny movements – like a menu item dropping to the bottom – that shouldn’t happen. Because everyone has a different screen and resolution, the menu should be tested thoroughly to ensure everyone can navigate your website easily.
8. Using the right images. I subscribe on LinkedIn to a personal coach…not for her amazing take on business. Instead, I laugh at the random photos she chooses for her articles. She’ll have a dog looking longingly out the window with an article titled, “7 Tips to Fuel your Business!” Her terrible thought process amuses me. Don’t get trolled by people like me! Spend the money with Shutterstock or iStock to get the right photo (it’s not expensive!). Don’t bother filtering through the awful freebie image sites for something that “might work”.
9. Do not fear white space. Every pixel of your website doesn’t have to contain a color or graphic. Some folks would rather blind their visitors than show an inch of white space. White space is important to allow your eye to follow a path. It should be easy for a visitor to visually follow the path of Problem -> Solution -> Services to solve your problem -> Call-to-Action.
10. Responsive. It’s not like the olden days (3 years ago). Everyone is using multiple devices to search the web. Desktops, tablets and mobile phones need to be able to read your website seamlessly. Google punishes websites that are not mobile friendly and pushes them down to page 3-4. If your website is not responsive, you’re losing 60% your audience.