Real Estate Websites: 21 Ways to Drive Visitors Away

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

Roselind Hejl

Have you surfed real estate sites lately?  Many still make some fundamental mistakes that tend to drive visitors away, rather than offering a rich experience that people will return to.  A visitor who has come back to your site several times is well on his way toward picking up the phone or sending an email, and beginning a business friendship with you.

The primary goal of a website should be to establish your message quickly and simply. Visitors scan sites rapidly, and want to move immediately to information that benefits them.  Here are some ways to stop them from doing just that!

1.  Force visitors to sit through your flash introduction.  (“It’s a bird, it’s a plane?no, it’s…the title to this website.  If you need a “Skip Intro” button, you’re off on the wrong foot.”)

2.  Impress your visitors with some cool text on top of background graphics, or, even better, some cool text on top of background text.  (“Honey, where are my 3-D glasses?”)

3.  Shake things up with a blast of your favorite music.  (“It’s midnight, and I think I’ll do a little house hunting before bed…”)

4.  What is this?  Blue text over black background.  (“I thought this was a website, not a cave.  Honey, where’s my flashlight?”)

5.  Come up with a spiffy new layout for each page.  (“Let’s see, which site was this anyway?”)

6.  OK, folks, let’s see how well you can find your way around!  Notice we have dozens of links scattered around the page…  (“Honey, get out the ball of string and bread crumbs.”)

7.  Here are some fun link puzzles! You’ll find that some links duplicate other links, but with different names. Try to guess which!  (“Oh-oh, I opened this one already…”)

8.  Oh boy, it’s one of those ads that flash at lightning speed.  (“May cause nausea, headaches, blurred vision…”)

9.  If one font does not make your site interesting, try six or seven, plus some bold , and a SMATTERING OF ALL CAPS.  (“A little subtlety, please!”)

10.  Hmm, the middle of the page is moving, but the sides are just hanging there.  This does not seem quite right…  (“Children, don’t ask why, but a long time ago, people used a thing called ‘frames’.”)

11.  So, what’s the main course on this site?  Well, tonight we’re having some canned content: Seven Deadly Mistakes Sellers Make. (“Who cooks up this stuff, anyway?”)

12.  Excuse me, folks, this text is for Google! (“Repeat after me…home for sale, for sale home, sale home, home sale, for home, home for…”)

13.  Pop ups!  (“Back button, please! I’m out of here.”)

14.  Have we got a ton of photos for you!  Just sit back and relax. They may take a while to load. (“Oh, here we are on our trip to Vegas…!”)

15.  And speaking of me, there is sooo much more to say… (“And in 1982 I received several awards for…”)

16.  And now you can read my new syndicated real estate blog! (“The other day I was chatting with an agent who sits in the cubicle next to me at the office about the use of open house signs…”)

17.  I’m game! Let’s see how long can we make this page? (“It’s three feet long! Oh wait, there’s more.”)

18.  Cram your hundreds of reciprocal links on the main page. (“What is all this stuff at the bottom? Aah, helpful links. Car repair in Bulgaria ?”)

19. OK, people, let’s cut to the chase: You either fill out this questionnaire, or nothing doing! (“Oh, well, I didn’t really need to be doing this right now.”)

20.  Wait, don’t leave!  Here’s some interesting real estate trivia! (?Why is the Terra Amata site famous??)

21.  Not so fast, folks!  Welcome to Hotel California. Your fancy back button has been disabled!  (“Relax,” said the night man, “we are programmed to receive. You can check out anytime you like… but you can never leave.”)

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