Have you redesigned your website recently? Are you in the process of doing so? Or are you just looking for new ideas to improve your existing website?
Building a new website is a massive undertaking for everyone on your team. There will be differing opinions on what should go on the new website and there will likely be much debate about the styling and visual elements too.
But one thing that should not be up for debate is the use of ‘old-school’, outdated features and functionality that can actually hurt your business.
Here are 4 things you should avoid on your next website project.
1. Image Carousels & Sliders
It’s easy to see why companies want sliders on their websites. They seem to appear everywhere, even on the websites of the biggest brands, including Apple, McDonald’s and Qantas, to name a few. It’s also a way, some wrongly perceive, to showcase multiple services or properties at once.
But there are lots of reasons why using a slider can actually damage your website and negatively impact your SEO.
A) No one interacts with them
Only around 1% of users click on sliders. Of that 1%, 84% click on the first slide. If people aren’t clicking on the rest of the slides, then why bother having the rest of the slides on your website in the first place? People simply aren’t seeing the other slides, and aren’t taking any action. Instead, choose your best image and display that on the home page instead.
B) They aren’t mobile-friendly
The majority of your website traffic is likely using mobile devices , so you want to make sure your website is appropriately optimised. Unfortunately, sliders don’t always work on mobile websites. If it’s the main feature on your landing page, and it doesn’t work, chances are people aren’t going to continue browsing your website.
As a result of Google’s ‘mobilegeddon’ algorithm update, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you could see your search engine rankings drop. Not only will you have decreased traffic, but you’ll have lower rankings as well.
C) They slow down your website
No one wants to sit there and wait for a website to slowly load. Instead, they’re going to leave your website, and you’re going to end up with a high bounce rate. Sliders dramatically slow down the speed of websites, especially if you are injecting high-resolution images or video content into them. This can negatively impact your SEO, as speed has been a factor in Google’s algorithm since 2010. If you’re adding a slider, you’re only going to slow down your website.
D) They give an unclear message
Sliders often have a different message on each slide, and link to different pages. This can confuse the user. What are you actually trying to communicate to them, and what action do you want them to take? By the time people have read all the offers in your slides, chances are they have forgotten the original one. If your slider automatically rotates, people often don’t get time to fully absorb the message and understand what you had to offer. Instead of confusing your customers, just chose the best image and offer instead.
E) They negatively impact your conversion rate
A slider is generally the first thing displayed on a landing page, and takes up a good proportion of real estate (pun intended). However, often people aren’t interested in sliders, as they are perceived to be similar to ads. People want to be reading content, not looking at ads. Using a slider means you’re missing out on potential conversions.
If your slider is taking up too much space, you will be pushing down your most important content. This means you will be damaging your SEO. Back in 2012, Google announced an algorithm that centred around page layout. Users get frustrated when they click on a result and can’t see any content. If you’ve got a slider, it’s blocking your content, and your website could end up affected by this algorithm.
So not only will you lose conversions from having a slider, but you will damage your SEO as well.
2. Prioritising buyers and renters over vendors and landlords
The majority of real estate agency websites are essentially mini versions of their profile on the major portals. The first thing you see when you land on most real estate office websites is a search bar for property, just like on the portals. And their website navigation is usually ordered “Buy”, “Sell”, “Rent” – clearly prioritising buyers and renters by making these things quickly available to them.
In the USA, where agents represent both buyers and sellers in every transaction, this approach to designing a real estate website makes sense. But here in Australia, we represent the vendor, don’t we? So why would you build a website dedicated to making life easier for buyers and renters but harder for your potential clients?
Prioritising calls-to-action and tailoring your website navigation for vendors and landlords, over buyers and renters, will take your potential clients to where you want them to go, faster.
If you want a website that will generate leads, you must prioritise your primary audience. That doesn’t mean you remove properties or property search altogether. It just means reconfiguring your website layout, calls-to-action and navigation to ensure that potential vendors can interact with the pages on your website that matter most to them.
Some graphic designers and brand strategists will strongly disagree with putting a call-to-action on the home page. Instead, opting for a positioning statement or brand tagline. While it might seem insignificant, this approach can negatively impact your lead generation in a big way.
The homepage of your website is often your first opportunity to make an impression on your visitor – and especially for ready-to-sell vendors. Sometimes you only have a few seconds before they decide to engage or leave your page. Using a clear call-to-action in the hero (top) section of your site encourages immediate engagement.
This type of transparent approach eliminates friction and builds trust between the user and the brand which will ultimately yield more conversions over filling the screen up with brand positioning statements or taglines. When it comes to lead generation, it’s important to get straight to the point.
This is where working with a dedicated real estate website designer who specialises in designing for lead generation can make all the difference to your next website. Working with a graphic designer may provide a nice looking website but oftentimes they are not specialists in conversion optimisation or designing for lead generation.
Sometimes, design can override strategy and it can impact your business in a big way. It’s important to get the balance right.
3. Insecure links
Stop reading this article right now and go over to your website. Does your website have https before it in your browser like this?
If so, great. Your web developer has installed an SSL certificate on your website which basically tells modern web browsers that your website is secure. If you don’t have an SSL certificate installed on your website, your site visitors will be shown a warning that your website is not secure and you should immediately reach out to your web developer to ensure an SSL certificate is installed as soon as possible.
By having an SSL certificate installed, your potential clients can safely browse your website and enter their details in your website forms with the confidence that their data is secure.
Back in 2014, Google rolled out updated algorithms across the board in favour of HTTPS websites so it also helps improve your Google search rankings by having a secure website.
4. Stock photos and video
No matter how much you search through stock image websites, you will not find images that accurately convey the ethos and culture of your business. At best, you’ll be showcasing a pale comparison of what you aspire to be.
When you use stock imagery, it is important to remember that you are paying to use a photo rather than taking ownership of it. The same images can appear on competitor websites or as part of a standard Google search.
If you choose this path, understand that the images you use can legally be featured by a competitor. If users realise that the images you are promoting with are not original, your credibility and reputation as a provider may be called into question.
Before starting any website project, we ask our clients to compile a library of original images and video (often purpose shot for exclusive use on the website) across three categories:
- Lifestyle & local (local landmarks, streetscapes etc)
- Property (stunning internal shots from some of their most notable sales)
- People & social (behind the scenes and social events within the business)
There is no better way to develop an emotional connection and build trust with your potential clients than by using original imagery and video on your website that showcases the area in which they live. The result is a website that is truly one-of-a-kind, increasing your time-on-site (people spending longer on your website) and lifting your conversion rate (people filling in forms).
If you want your website to generate leads, it’s important to consider and understand how users interact with websites today before making design decisions that might negatively impact your business. Good digital marketing is about reducing friction for your clients and guiding them toward a profitable action for your business i.e. filling in a form on your website. It’s important to always get the mix right between stunning design and smart strategy when designing your new website. Hopefully this article has given you some ideas to incorporate into your next website project.
Need some help?
We create unique hand-crafted real estate websites for some of Australia’s most notable real estate brands. Meet some of the real estate businesses like yours that are experiencing incredible results after launching their new website with Stepps >