Finding the right website or web designer can be the most important decision you make in your web campaign. This can be an extremely confusing and frustrating process especially if you don’t know what to look for.
You have two main options in creating a website; a custom designed site or template-based site. Which you choose will be determined by your budget and level of commitment to your online marketing campaign.
Template sites cost considerably less than custom designed sites, generally running from $300-$1200. You will be able to choose from several different designs and modify your varying amounts of your personal content. This usually includes your photo, contact information, and any listings you may add. Some template sites also provide some useful tools and content along with the basic site.
The advantages of using a template site include a significantly lower price tag and the minimal effort and time needed to get it up and running.
However, there are many template sites that don’t serve as much more than online brochures (and bad ones at that) and are not worth investing in.
Custom websites designed specifically to your needs cost significantly more than template sites. While some designers may advertise low prices for a “Basic” site, a custom site with all the features you want will usually cost anywhere from $1000 to $2500. Having a custom built site allows you free reign over the features, design, and organization of your site. However, running a custom site successfully usually requires a much larger time commitment.
After experiencing the potential of a good online marketing campaign, many agents invest in a custom website to replace their template sites at their primary web address.
Things To Look For:
Regardless of which option you choose, there are some common features that every good website should have.
Administrative Console or Control Panel
It is essential that you be able to make changes to your website through an easy web form. You do not want to rely on a Webmaster to add and update the content on your site.
Level of Customization and Scalability
Many template sites include a standard set of links and content built in, with little modification available. How much of the content in your site will you be able to control? Will you be able to add new pages and features to your website affordably? The last thing you want is to get stuck with a site that falls short of your expectations and can’t be modified.
Many companies offer template sites that use frames to display content that is hosted on a central server. Besides the poor aesthetic appeal of frames, this creates a greater problem with search engines and usability.
Aesthetics and Usability
Oftentimes people will tell you that you do not need a pretty site with fancy graphics. They will tell you that visitors to your site are not concerned with its image but rather it’s content. While they are correct in that visitors aren’t primarily concerned with your site’s look and feel, the reality is that image and usability do matter.
Even with the best content, a poorly designed site can make it so frustrating and difficult for users that it leaves a horrible impression. A professionally designed and aesthetically pleasing site will make it easy for visitors to navigate and accomplish their tasks, and immediately promotes confidence with your prospective clients. Fortunately there are a lot of really good real estate templates and plugins to make a beautiful website and you can click here to read more about the best ones
Imagine you had just spoken with two different real estate agents that both seemed equally knowledgeable and experienced. One was dressed professionally and presents you with a market report and a nice business card. The other looked disheveled, smelled funny, and hands you his phone number written on a napkin. Which would you go with?
Support Staff with Online Marketing Expertise
It is vital to remember that even the best website, alone, will not generate any new leads for you. The majority of real estate website designers are programmers or graphic artists, not marketing experts. Make sure your web designers are familiar with search engine optimization and can provide consultation and guidance in marketing your website. This is far more important that most agents realize.
Designers Familiar with Real Estate Industry and websites
Ideally, you should purchase your website from a company that specializes in real estate sites. They should be familiar what prospective clients are looking for on your site and how to best generate new leads for you.