Choosing the best real estate website designer can be a very confusing process. There are so many factors to consider and so much information out there on the internet to sift through.
If you haven’t noticed there is a massive digital transformation taking place in the real estate industry right now. This means the quality of your website has become monumentally more important than it used to be. So, the quality of your real estate website designer is more critical than ever.
The biggest problem that real estate agents face is that so many real estate website designers either focus too much on how the website looks and the graphic design instead of making sure it will drive traffic, leads and sales into their business or they simply don’t know how to SEO optimise a real estate website that is conversion focussed.
With that in mind we wrote this article to give people all the information and tools they need to choose the best real estate website designer.
Have a read through our checklist of the 19 things that you need to tick so you choose the best real estate website designer.
If you can check them all off then you are in safe hands and can be sure your real estate website will do what it is supposed to, attract the right visitors at the right point in their buyer journey and convert those visitors into leads.
#1 Does real estate website designer plan before they build?
The best real estate website designers always work from a plan that gives them direction and parameters when they go to the design and build phases. By the way, that the 3 main phases a great real estate website should go through.
Read our article How to Plan a High Performing Real Estate Website in 5 Steps to learn more about the planning phase.
To make my point, I want you to imagine for a minute, a construction company started building a building without architects and engineers first planning and creating drawings. It would be a disaster. If the building didn’t fall down soon after it was built it would only be a matter of time.
The same goes for a real estate website that is designed and built without a plan. In today’s digital age the success and failure of your real estate agency will depend on the success of your real estate website and therefore the quality of your real estate website designer.
The best real estate website designers work from a detailed, bullet proof plan.
#2 Does the real estate website designer have a process?
In the last section we told you to check that your real estate website designer works from a plan. To do this you will need to see their process. A documented step by step journey that you and your new website will follow.
To be clear here, a wing and a prayer is not a process. The process should be documented, preferably on their website, so you can see exactly how they will plan, design and build your site.
The reason the best real estate website designers have documented processes is because they are organised, efficient and have obviously tested enough methods to be confident enough to promote their process.
If there is no process to be found then take them off the list and move on.
At the very least they should separate the process into three main high level stages
But to be honest these main phases should really be broken down into sub stages and further into sub steps.
The best real estate website designers have a documented and easy to understand process.
#3 Do they understand your business?
To be one of the best real estate website designers, they will need to ask a lot of questions and do a lot of research.
You should be on the lookout for how much investigation any real estate website designer is doing. The more they do the better they will know your business.
The more they know your business and your clients the more suited your website will be to converting the right people.
Sometimes it’s a good idea to get a specialist real estate website designer that has in depth and intimate knowledge of the real estate business.
The team at Respacio have been planning, designing and building only real estate websites for years and we have an unmatched repertoire of knowledge and tools to build the highest converting websites in the industry.
Want a free consultation for your new real estate website? Book a call today with one of our business analysts.
The best real estate website designers work tirelessly to know your business inside and out
#4 Do they do their keyword research?
If there was only one question you could ask to find out who was the best real estate website designer than it just might be
"What kind of keyword research do you have and do?"
An understanding of the impact detailed keyword research has on a website, a business and its team members is critical when choosing your real estate website designer.
The best advice we can give you is to ask them about it and ask to see some examples of their keyword lists and how they have incorporated them into past content marketing plans.
A simple version of the above might look something like this.
If keyword research, lists and plans are not high on their priority list then they shouldn’t be high on your list, if at all, for the best real estate website designers for your new site.
#5 Does the real estate website designer have experience with all types of real estate websites?
A sure fire way to know if you are on the right track when trying to find the best real estate website designer is to make sure they have experience making real estate websites. In some cases it is better to choose a website designer with vast experience across multiple industries but real estate websites require specific knowledge and skills.
The best way to judge the experience of any real estate web designer is to look through their portfolio and see if they truly do specialise in realtor sites. You will want to see a mixture of really big and complicated sites as well as small 2 to 5 person agency sites. Their portfolio should also include evidence that they have experience with at least sales, rentals and property management websites.
At Respacio, we have been, are and always will be real estate specific web designers. All of our research and development budget gets spent on real estate specific testing and innovation.
The best real estate website designers have tried, tested and true experience with a wide variety of different types of real estate websites, big and small.
#6 Do they understand your brand?
Even though we consider the understanding of your business higher up the list it is still super important that a website designer has an understanding of your brand. Your brand, if done correctly represents what you and your company stand for, it is what separates you from the rest of the field.
Understanding your brand will allow the best real estate web designers to convey your message perfectly so people immediately know who you are and what you stand for when they first land on your homepage.
Watch out for real estate website designers that always use the exact same designs, formats and messaging. If they can’t put in the effort to get to know you and your brand, you better give them a pass.
The best real estate website designers get to know your brand and use it to craft your message clearly.
#7 Does the real estate website designer prioritise conversions and functionality over design?
This is a key question to be asking when searching for the best real estate website designer because so many out there don’t fully understand the importance of conversion and focus 90% of their attention on how it looks.
If you end up with a designer like this, all you will end up with is a stunningly beautiful website that nobody ever gets to see.
Some questions to ask yourself when looking through their portfolio of real estate websites are:
- How do I get in touch within 3 seconds of landing on a page?
- How difficult is it to submit my contact information?
- If I am looking for specific information is the path to the information and then to submitting my contact info clear, simple and easy to understand?
- Is the main structure of the website easy to understand straight away so as to give you confidence you could easily find anything you are looking for with a few clicks
If the answer to one or more of these is no then you really need to keep looking if you truly want the best real estate website designer out there.
The best real estate website designers know that conversion route planning is super important.
#8 Do they prioritise CTAs (calls-to-action)
Conversion and CTAs could really be one step but we separated them because they are that important to real estate website design. To have the best real estate website designer they need to have in-depth knowledge and experience with calls-to-action.
A call-to-action is an instruction to the prospect to take an action in exchange for something. This could be subscription to your newsletter, viewing of a property, subscription to property match emails, buyers and sellers guides, my account registration or a valuation consultation call. (among others)
Knowing where, when and how to place these calls to action could be the difference between failure and success.
The best real estate website designers have a strategy for the placement of high converting calls-to-action.
#9 Is the real estate website designer a user experience expert?
The user experience is something all the best real estate website designers pay close attention to. If the user experience is bad or confusing then the visitors will bounce away quickly and never become a lead.
To judge user experience visit a few other websites in similar industries and get a feeling for how long and how easy it is to find what you want and to get in touch with the company. If it is easy, intuitive and a 6 year old could do it then you have a good user experience.
Once you’re confident that you can identify a good user experience from a bad one, ask any real estate website designers on your list for a portfolio of sites they have done before and check the user experiences for yourself.
If they are no good then you should give them a pass immediately.
At Respacio we use Adobe XD to build wireframes and working prototypes that our clients can click through in order to really feel what the user experience will be like. We won’t go to the design or build phases unless the flow is right and the client will have a seamless journey through the site.
The best real estate website designers have fluid, simple and logical user experiences.
#10 Do they understand the importance of mobile-friendliness?
According to Statista, of all the internet users globally, 92% of them access the internet via a mobile phone and only 63% of them also access via a laptop or desktop. This means that mobile friendliness and mobile usability is paramount and just understanding that fact isn’t enough anymore.
If your real estate website designer isn’t talking to you about mobile layout from the very beginning then they won’t be up to the task of designing a responsive modern real estate website.
There are a lot of companies out there claiming to be the best real estate website designers but they don’t handle responsive websites properly. You can’t just leave the responsiveness up to the system and hope for the best. Yes, it will resize it automatically but these automatic adjustments need to be reviewed and changed with the client in mind at the very least.
At Respacio, we always design the first user experience wireframe in desktop size, then resize it and edit it in Adobe XD so we have desktop and mobile wireframes that are working prototypes. Nothing left to chance, everything works and flows the way it should.
The best real estate website designers are mobile focused.
#11 Does the real estate website designer keep up with design trends?
Although design comes after all the planning and preparation of a website it still is very important for it to be appealing to the eye and to adhere to the latest trends.
You can easily double check if your real estate website designer is up on all the latest and greatest in the web design world by performing the same type of experiment as above.
Do a bit of web surfing to arm yourself with the knowledge of what is trending and what belongs on the first real estate website ever made then just see how their portfolio stacks up.
If all their latest sites look like they should be in a museum then it’s probably best to move on and keep searching.
The best real estate website designers are up-to-date with what’s cool and trending.
#12 Do they understand core web vitals and site speed optimisation?
The last thing you want to think about is all the boring tech stuff when you are getting ready to create your new real estate website. But, unfortunately, this needs to be addressed as speed can affect seo, bounce rate and many other variables.
Since June 2020, Google has been using what they call page experience as a factor in rankings. This comprises core web vitals (load speed, interactivity and visual stability) as well as mobile friendliness and placement of advertisements.
The best real estate website designers will be fluent in and be able to demonstrate processes to address all of the above.
When you get your list of possible real estate website designers down to the top 3 to 5 start asking them to see their system to address core web vitals and the other page experience items.
If they can answer and/or produce information and methods then you are probably safe with them tech wise. But on the other hand, if they fill you with words and claim that you have nothing to worry about, well, then worry and skip them.
You will thank us later, trust me.
The best real estate website designers have systems for core web vitals and speed optimisation.
#13 Is the real estate website designer an expert in Search Engine Optimisation?
SEO or search engine optimisation is a word that real estate web designers throw around quite liberally but oftentimes don’t have a tried, tested and true strategy to deliver on those promises.
You will want to get into the SEO nitty gritty with any candidate you consider. They must possess a clear and direct SEO plan for your website starting with the structure and ending with the content creation and distribution.
Some questions you may want to ask yourself when you look at their SEO plans are:
- Is the page structure clear and easy to follow?
- Is there keyword research at a very early stage?
- Is there a keyword distribution strategy?
- Is there a content creation and distribution plan?
There is also the technical aspect of SEO but if you are satisfied with point #12 then this should certainly be covered.
The best real estate website designers are SEO masters
#14 Do they prioritise locations and shortlists
All the best real estate website designers know that focusing on locations and shortlists can bring big consistent wins for your business.
You need to be able to clearly see in their portfolio of real estate websites that they have location pages created for every location in the tree and a strategy for having content both dynamic and custom added to them.
Shortlists are created by using the most popular, searched for, property searches as individual pages on the website. There should also be a plan in place to have content added to these over time so they gain authority with the search engines.
Imagine if someone was searching for homes for sale in Las Vegas and you had a page called homes for sale in Las Vegas full of useful content and properties matching that area.
Google would surely send people there.
There is much more complexity to both location pages and shortlists but you can be sure if they can at least explain the above with confidence it’s likely they will deliver on this very important aspect of real estate website development.
The best real estate website designers use location pages and shortlists to deliver success.
#15 Can the real estate website designer write high-converting copy?
Filling up empty space with words and writing high converting copy is what differentiates the best real estate website designers from the worst.
There are many schools of thought on what high converting copy is but the one opinion that everyone shares is that it has to be benefit driven.
It must answer the most important question all prospects ask:
"What’s in it for me?"
Ask the real estate website designers you are thinking about hiring to show you multiple sites where they have written the copy and read it over a few times. If it is benefit driven copy that talks only about the prospects in an unapologetic way then you can be sure they are experts at writing high converting copy and you will be safe in their hands.
The best real estate website designers write benefit driven copy.
#16 Do they do lots of post-launch work?
Planning, designing, building and launching a real estate website is just the beginning of the journey. Even with all the testing in the world there are just some things that can’t be found until it is a live real estate website.
There is always going to be chinks in the armor, it’s natural. How they are dealt with and corrected is what tells you if they are one of the best real estate website designers for you and your agency to put your faith in or not.
At Respacio, we are continually testing your site and making sure it is updated in the backend with all the latest and greatest tools and addons.
We have a monthly check up we do on all of our sites and we will give you a report detailing our findings everytime.
Our team is also dedicated to your future success and will give you detailed training of the backend of your website so you can make minor additions and changes such as: adding or updating blog posts, changing featured images and updating content on static pages.
At the end of the day, just make sure that the real estate website designer you choose will be there for you well after the last check has been cashed and is invested in your success as much as you are.
The best real estate website designers have after sales service anyone would envy.
#17 Does the real estate website designer have hosting, security, maintenance and web support?
Ok, this is all really boring stuff but you have to try and, just for a brief moment, pay attention to it. You need to familiarise yourself with a few basic questions that every real estate website designer should be able to properly answer.
- Do you have hosting services?
- If so, are they country and/or region specific?
- Where and how do they keep client data?
- What is your web support procedure?
- How often and what components of my website will be updated?
If you can get some detailed and intelligent answers to these questions you can be sure that you have someone experienced and someone that should remain on the list of possible best real estate website designers for your business.
When you use Respacio as your real estate website designer the answers to those questions would be as follows:
- Yes, we offer hosting services for all real estate websites we build
- Yes, we set up servers for all different country and language sites so they have an ip in the target country
- We don’t keep any data in the website itself, it all comes from the crm and that is stored in individual AWS (Amazon web services) buckets.
- We run website backups every 24 hours so we can restore it for you should any errors be made with a simple call, chat message or email.
- The website wordpress, plugins and security are all updated and checked monthly to ensure you are always running the latest versions of everything and that you are getting the maximum protection.
The best real estate website designers are like an F1 pit crew helping you win the race.
#18 Do you keep full ownership of your real estate website?
A website is not a rental or a subscription service. You pay for it and you should own it. End of discussion.
The best real estate web designers always give you full and complete ownership of your website after the build is done.
If there is any kind of a contract with an early cancellation fee you need to kindly and politely walk away from this real estate website designer and keep on looking.
The best real estate website designers are fully transparent and turn over the keys to the kingdom upon completion.
#19 Is the real estate website designer cheap?
This may seem counterintuitive, but it is not, trust me. There is a saying that I like to quote when having the price conversation with people.
"You get what you pay for."
This is so true and I have seen it proved time and time again.
I wish I had a time machine for clients when they first come to me so I can take them back to make the right decision, not the cheapest one. Sadly, I don’t have one so all I can do is help moving forward.
A high performing real estate website is a big investment but it should pay off 10 fold or more.
If you spend time making a list of what you think are the best real estate website designers you will quickly find that these all come at a cost.
The next job is to make sure you choose the one that gives you, your team and your business the best value for money.
The best real estate website designers are expensive but give you way more value then you pay for.