Estate Agency Website Designs: What works and what doesn't?

11-12-2014

With the recent launch of the new website for estate agency Grier and Partners, I decided to delve into website design and function for estate agencies as whole. This blog will answer the following questions for Zoopla, William H Brown and Connells:

  • What works about this website?
  • What doesn't work on this website?
  • What would you like to see added to this website?

My benchmark website and brand is:
 

Zoopla

http://www.zoopla.co.uk

Zoopla have nailed the estate agent market place in-terms of mass market appeal and commercial property selling. As an aggregator of property, they have – in my opinion -- surpassed the original leaders of Rightmove (often considered the ambassadors of online property selling). Zoopla’s brand and simplistic outlook is on-trend for today’s modern, mobile property buyer. It is because of these values, I have chosen this as a bench mark from which I shall draw my comparisons against more ‘local’ estate agent websites:  

William H Brown

http://www.williamhbrown.co.uk

This is how I expect an estate agents website to look and function; it is 100% on the button. I'm not saying it’s beautifully built or aesthetically pleasing, but simply a brand specific, functional agent portal for local property sales. William H brown have clearly considered the brand positioning and created a very brand conscious website here with the customer in mind. Clean navigation and fresh colours aide the visitor allowing you to make an informed decision on site. However, a down side for me is the over use of ‘positive reinforcement’ and splattering of quotes – it seems to hint on the side of desperation when that happens. Sure, we like to know that you’re credible and have great relationships with your clients, but don’t suffocate the visitors with too much. It bears repeating that this is 100% on the button for a ‘local’ estate agent website, however I would like to see more lifestyle and real people actually on the website, at least on the homepage, just to give it that personal touch and not a cold, faceless corporation just interested in making their 2% on completion.  

Connells

http://www.connells.co.uk 

I love seeing well thought out ‘property search’ boxes on a website, it shows they do actually want to help you find that next property. Bringing it up early, such as Zoopla, really lets the user get down to business and start his search. I'm a huge fan of showing the core services on the homepage with supporting images, however I feel this could have been executed in a cleaner fashion. News on a ‘local’ estate agents website? I'm not sure I've actually ever read a news article on an estate agents website, I think it should be on the website but not on the homepage. The overall design of the website seems rushed, with elements dropped in place without consideration to a mobile and information rich society. I think the Connells brand could be used more intelligently across the site with a more modern application of web standards. I feel this website could be dramatically improved with modernisation and a more design-focused approach.