Blog Post by Lindsey Imperatore, Director of Marketing at The News Funnel
User experience, as it has always been, continues to be the key driving factor in web design. With users and apps becoming more intuitive, web design is evolving into quicker load times, more complex functionality, and customizable experiences. Commercial real estate professionals can use their web sites to capitalize on these features and improve their clients’ experiences.
Let’s look at some key elements to designing an effective, engaging commercial real estate web site.
1. Minimalism and functionality. As a CRE professional, you want your design to work seamlessly with your content. Trying to do or say too much on a landing page, for instance, can be confusing and overwhelming. While tricks of the trade can entice viewers deeper into your site, it is not a good idea to throw everything on the front door at once. JLL’s site is an exquisite example of minimalist design. No scrolling necessary on this one. Simply pause for a moment on their homepage to get a glimpse of a few of the site’s features. Words are minimal, autoslide is functional yet effective.
Functionality can include logical navigation, designing with the end goal in mind (conversions, call to action, contact us form, etc.), and a minimalist approach with regard to load times. Retail Dive Editor Jason Ankey reports, “Surveys indicate that users expect pages within mobile applications to download within a matter of seconds.”
Slow load times can be attributed mainly to data bloat, although other factors include network connectivity and host server conditions. Of course, CRE professionals have little if any control over the “other factors,” but jamming data on your website can be controlled by keeping minimalist design techniques and functionality in check.
2. Clear navigation. I believe this discussion goes hand-in-hand with functionality. Label menus with familiar headings like Home, About, Services, Team, Properties, rather than using off-the-wall, too “cutesy” headings like “How we do it” or “Where you want to be.” In addition, offering too many ways to move throughout your website can be distracting and reduces functionality. Placing one or two menus in typical locations--across the top, along the left or right side, bottom menus--are best. Utilizing web navigation apps and widgets that allow for rollover and pulldown menus can add seamless navigation to your CRE site as well.
3. Professional look and feel. Take a look at Cushman & Wakefield’s website. Incorporating bold typography with professional imagery, they are able to achieve a minimalist design while communicating effectively their featured stories. In CRE web design, use bold, unique typography to visually highlight value propositions, purpose, calls to action, and other important messages. Be careful to not overuse, however, which can make a site look more like a fifth-grade art project rather than a commercial real estate website. Full-width professional imagery is becoming an CRE industry standard. After all, why wouldn’t you want your company, properties, and team to look as professional as possible? No more smartphone pics. No more stock photos. Sorry, Shutterstock and iStock. Use professional images if you want your website to stand out above the rest.
4. Custom interactive Google maps. Google maps with pins to important locations and familiar icons for amenities and properties enhance users’ experiences. Regency Centers brings their properties to the forefront of their entire site by having a search for properties window directly next to their site title in the upper left corner of the site. Their Properties page wastes no time with more words. Intuitively knowing the user is interested in location, the web design puts Google Maps to work with interactive pinpoints on all of their locations, big and boldly displayed under the title “Properties.”