Your Mommy may be very proud of your website. Your friends might tell you it’s cool. I’m here to tell you it’s probably not. Yeah, I know, that’s a HUGE sweeping statement, but after spending the weekend researching real estate websites to find a good one on most of the points I was trying to illustrate for a “how to make your website work better” piece I was writing for a national newsletter… I must say I’m pretty disgusted.
It’s hard to say what sites need to contain to be successful and then look around for examples and not be able to find them. Sure, I could use my clients as examples, but that seems a little awkward (and potentially unethical and self-serving) since I’m ghostwriting the newsletter.
Instead of getting angry, I decided to share an ranting post over here on WickedBlog, where I’m free to say how I really feel. The following pet peeves are things I actually FOUND while searching for GOOD examples:
- Music playing automatically when the page loads – What is this 1999? Just shoot me now!
- The splash screen announcing that the site had been recently hacked by an anti-government group demanding the end to violence in a foreign country and blasting rap music filled with obscenities. Yep, I actually found this during my search. I checked the Internet archives to determine that it had, indeed, been a real estate site until recently (when hacked). I’ll not even dive into the one that had Chrome flashing a “don’t enter, this site contains malware” warning I got on another scary real estate site. Seriously, folks, check your website regularly.
- Floaty, sliding, “I’m following you” scrolly, and “jump out at you” graphics that overlay a page and require me to “X out” or respond in order to access the site below. No thank you, if you make my experience this trying, I’ll just leave your site never to return. NEXT!
- Navigation tabs, side tabs, and other graphics that are supposed to open up, drop down and “slide in” but don’t work properly and have obviously never been tested on any mobile device… ever. Please release me from the horrors of website owners who have no clue how often people are accessing sites on a device smaller than their upturned palm and outstretched fingers and help them to join the mobile revolution. Amen.
- A requirement to register to access the site. My private information is called PRIVATE for a reason. I’ll go find this stuff on a site that’s not so nosey and demanding. This was rude in 2000, it’s unforgivable now. Good bye.
- Copyrights that are months or years out of date. One was still tagged as 2008. Great attention to detail there, buddy! Are you just as careful when you handle my stuff as a client? Can I trust you to be that diligent during my closing? With my inspections? While negotiating on my behalf? See ya!
- Blogs that are called “news” – I realize that some sites actually do blog about the news. Real estate sites aren’t usually among them. You are not a journalist, you are a real estate agent who knows how to wield a marketing war hammer. That hammer is called a blog. Use the correct term.
- Websites with little text on the index page other than chest beating of the following variety: “This is the premiere website for _____________ real estate” – Really? I was actually looking for the sparkly, awesomeness, website for real estate in that location. Egomaniac.
- Websites that have a home page that consists of a home search, a “what’s your house worth” widget, a long string of listings, and a bunch of neighborhood/city/real estate keywords stuffed at the bottom and linked as if those were actually navigation links instead of a lousy attempt to fool Google. Get a real web designer and/or get a clue. Preferably both.
- Canned content. You think your visitors can’t smell that a mile away? It makes you appear insincere and if you think that’s helping you with SEO, you need to learn a little more about SEO and the sin of duplicate content. At best it neuters your marketing efforts online and at worst it’s well… counter productive. After all, do you think you are the ONLY real estate agent using that content? You aren’t. There are hundreds of you that listened to that sales pitch and bit that nasty bait. Seriously. HUNDREDS.
There are more, MANY more, but that’s enough pissy attitude and ranting for one post. Now, back to writing my newsletter… and more attempts to either find good examples or give up on illustrating with real sites and just tell, rather than show. *sigh*