Here's a comment I posted on George Tallabas' blog post: What Are Consumers Looking for in a Realtor Website. He said I should post it as a separate item, so here it is:
Before I was a Realtor, I was a web and print designer for years. One thing that MANY sites have in common that makes them less usable is the header that is so prominent that it takes up half of the visible page. By visible page, I mean what the user sees when the page loads.
For example, Thesa, I looked at your site. It's very attractive and seems to have good information. There are a couple of things that strike me about it off the bat, though. One is that your 'Call To Action' is 'below the fold', that is, the user must scroll down to find it. I am talking about your links to Search For Homes, Contact Me, etc. I bet you would get greater results from your site simply by moving that to the top of the text area. The average user decides in the first few seconds of a visit to a site whether they want to stay or not. That means if your site loads slowly or isn't IMMEDIATELY RELEVANT, they will look somewhere else.
A note on content:
- Put your most relevant info at the TOP of the page. Start with your conclusion, then work your way down. This is counter to the way most of us are used to writing. Writing for the web is different.
- If you want a user to DO something- search for home, fill out a form, click a link- put it at the TOP of the page. Don't make the user scroll down to do something!
- Use lots of bullet points and emphasize with BOLD and italics. Research shows that web users scan for relevant information rather than reading complete sentences. If your site is too wordy or the text is too small, you will lose many visitors right off the bat.
- Try to distill down to the basics,(be concise!) especially on your home page. Elaborate on other pages, when you've already got the user somewhat interested.
- Try searching for articles on web writing- there are plenty of good ones out there. Better content is the first step toward a more productive website!
Hope this is helpful- I'm fairly new to real estate, but I know something about web design.
Anyone else have tips about what makes a site usable?