Is your website usable?

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Eye on Spain

I was with a new client this morning and we were going through the review process of his website.  He has a real estate website focusing on some very specific golf resorts.

The website is packed with really great information, videos and images, but his lead generation is very poor.  Only 2% of visitors submit their details for further information about the resort.

Some people may consider 2% to be brilliant but I work with websites that are achieving a 12% conversion of traffic to leads. 

So we sat down this morning and I pulled his website apart.  I don't think he was too happy as I didn't really have anything good to say apart from "the content is good".

The main failing of the website, from my experience, is down to usability.  They've concentrated too much on SEO and neglected probably the most important factor...the visitor!

On entering the website you are presented with a huge number of choices in what looks like a very cluttered website.  It's all good stuff but as a new visitor you really don't have a clue where to begin.  It's the reason that some of the pages on the site have a bounce rate of over 70%, which is terrible.

Is your website visitor friendly?

Work on the assumption that less is more.  Give a visitor a direct path through your website.  Don't confuse him/her and don't give too many options.  At the end of the day your goal is to grab the details of every visitor to your site that you can.  Make it simple.

Also, a great way to direct visitors is by featuring your recommended properties.  Make them stand out, even on the home page, and get people interested in a selection of your best properties.  This works really well, and is how we achieve a 12% conversion on one of the sites I manage.

Get a friend to look at your website, hopefully someone who's never looked at it before and sit behind them as they navigate your site.  You'll learn so much about your website by doing this.  

Don't just make your site search engine friendly, if you can't convert traffic to leads then there's little point in having a website.  

What's your conversion of traffic to leads?  Anyone doing better than 12%?? 

Comments (12)

Christine Hart Howlett
Painesville and Eastern Lake County - Painesville, OH
Keller Williams Greater Cleveland NE
Justin, thank  you for the great advice, especially less is more.  I'm going to make some changes to my website today!
Apr 18, 2008 06:32 AM
Patrick Lambert
ALLY Real Estate - Waikoloa, HI
Hawaii Real Estate Expert

I am in Hawaii. I get a lot of traffic and not that high of a return considering. With over 2,000 unique visitors I got about 5 actual contracts and listings, about 7 leads for the future. I think my problem is that I am in Hawaii and a lot of the lookers have found my site by accident while searching hawaii information and are just looking at pictures and information I have on my site. I have trackers on each page and the trackers that are important to me are the listings page and featured homes. You said to ask someone to look at the site. How about you? You are the expert. Take a look at my site and tell me what you think. I look forward to your comments.

www.kaucountryhomesandland.com

 

Apr 18, 2008 06:34 AM
Ron Tarvin
Residential, Investment properties, rehab projects, property management, luxury homes, new construction! - Katy, TX
Broker, Katy, Houston, Cypress 77450,77494,77095

I would certainly like to make my website more productive, but of course it's a matter of TIME VS MONEY.  Either find the time to do it or find the money to hire someone to do it for me.

My site generates about 6 transactions a year but I would really not consider it effective until it generates at least 2 transactions a month.  That's a BIG step from 6 to 24 I would guess!

 

Apr 18, 2008 06:56 AM
Justin Aldridge
Eye on Spain - Atlantis, FL

Erm Patrick, if you really want my advice then, all I can say is, you need to start afresh!  Follow the idea that less is more.  There's way too much going on on each page.  It's really difficult to know what's what.  And why are your property links right at the bottom??  

Mate, it may seem a bit harsh but I'm amazed your site generates any leads at all. 

Sorry but you asked!

Justin

Apr 18, 2008 07:37 AM
Justin Aldridge
Eye on Spain - Atlantis, FL
"My site generates about 6 transactions a year but I would really not consider it effective until it generates at least 2 transactions a month.  That's a BIG step from 6 to 24 I would guess!"  To be honest, such a step is probably very easy to achive through some simple changes.  It's always the case!
Apr 18, 2008 07:39 AM
Patrick Lambert
ALLY Real Estate - Waikoloa, HI
Hawaii Real Estate Expert

That was harsh... and surprising because I have had people send emails and call just to say how wonderful they think it is. so I am very shocked at your opinion.

My site gave me 5 last month ... I just wanted to clarify myself in regard to my original post that is was months. I have only been tracking site visitors since January and March was the first month I tracked actual lead generated. This month I have only had 4 strong leads but nothing has lead to paper just yet. I am expecting to write a contract late this afternoon on one of my listings. That lead was generated from my site ... that's where they saw the listing and am also waiting for a listing agreement the seller sent back snail mail. I still have a couple weeks left for the month of April to improve.

 

Apr 18, 2008 08:22 AM
Sandy Shores FL Realtor®, Melbourne Real Estate
M & M Realty of Brevard Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Brevard County Real Estate, Florida's Space Coast
Very interesting article.  Thanks for the heads up.  I'll have to sit down and look at mine from a visitor's perspective and see if it is in fact user friendly.  Thanks for sharing the knowledge.
Apr 18, 2008 11:11 AM
Doug Fritchie
DOUG FRITCHIE-Silver Legacy Properties,Inc. - Portland, OR
Hey Justin~ Thanks for the great tips. I will have someone analyze my website,today.
Apr 18, 2008 11:25 AM
Ron Tarvin
Residential, Investment properties, rehab projects, property management, luxury homes, new construction! - Katy, TX
Broker, Katy, Houston, Cypress 77450,77494,77095

Patrick, was that 5 registrations or how do you quantify your 5?  My site averages about 75 registrations a month (or at least it used to as it has slowed a bit lately).  Maybe it's just my follow up which is very passive.  I get those registrations WITHOUT a single penny in PPC advertising too. 

Apr 18, 2008 01:06 PM
Cathal Duffy
A&D Marketing Solutions, Inc. - Palm Coast, FL
Florida Virtual Tour Provider

I think the "Less is better" statement is very accurate. We work with clients all the time that try to make their website everything to everybody, but by doing that they are hurting themselves... I have been on Real Estate websites that dont even include the agents listings! Some agents buy the hosted template site from one of the big providers, put their contact info on it and call it a day.... thats not going to generate any leads!  If someone ends up on your Real Estate website, they're usually there for two major reasons... 1) to find out more information on one of your listings or 2) to find out more information on you (or both)... the canned out of the box approach gives them neither... Alot of agents have alot of "filler" on their websites thats not needed.... a simple layout and an easy path to the information the user wants will render much more results...

My advice is to follow these simple steps;

1) What is the main purpose of your website?  Define exactly what it is you want your website to do, is it advertise your listings? advertise you? advertise your market area? advertise your niche? 

2) Rank in order of importance what you want your website to do

3) build the site in that order, if you rank advertising your listings as #1 priority, then make your website reflect that and then ask your friends inside and outside the business to take a look at it and provide honest feedback... and in my opinion remove the "filler"...

The finished product (your website will never actually be finished!) should give the user the information they want in the quickest, easiest manner possible

Apr 19, 2008 04:06 AM
Brian Sharpe
Tierra Antigua Realty - Tucson, AZ
Tucson EcoBroker

Justin - I totally agree with your comment about less is more. Here is the way I learned to think about this idea.

Think of the white space on your web page as the isles in a retain store. You need ample room to walk around the merchandise, in our case the content on a page.

Apr 19, 2008 06:04 AM
Jeffery Griffin
Jeff Griffin LLC - Wailuku, HI
Broker Owner
maybe you sould look at my web site www.luckycomehawaii.com I wonder?
Apr 19, 2008 06:58 AM