The 2009 Massachusetts Association of Realtors® Website Design Contest gathered some of the best real estate websites across the state. Two categories were used to divide the entries: broker/office websites and agent/individual websites. One winner and two runners-up were chosen from each category based on criteria ranging from the quality and originality of content to the visual design, interactivity, and use of multimedia in the website.
– Windhill Realty,
Windhill Realty’s homepage is a prime example of how to provide a wealth of information within a simple layout. Quick property search options, easy access to contact information and news services, and social network connections at Facebook and LinkedIn are a few of the useful features within a single click. A well-developed property search, with an interactive list-based view and a map-based view, provide an easy way to sort through a large number of listings.
Search engine optimization is a must these days so “Windhill contains thousands of pages of content and uses clean URLs to help improve ranking,” says Shawn Cayer, broker/owner of Windhill Realty. Shawn is particularly proud of his site’s “Ease of use and clean design.” WindhillRealty.com provides a superior user experience and
takes top honors in the contest. First Runner-Up
Properties, Dennis Village
Providing a variety of information for visitors, and making it meaningful, is a challenge for any website. Lomenzo Properties does a great job of integrating market statistics, property search, and a well-maintained blog into the visitor experience. Property search is easy and map-based, the blog entries are syndicated on the homepage for added exposure, and the site utilizes pop-up surveys to gauge the satisfaction of visitors. Second Runner-Up
Associates Realtors®, Lynnfield
Both runners-up in this year’s contest are designed by Union Street Media, and both feature strong property search functions with mapping and the option to save searches for later. Northrup also provides a map tool to find open houses in the area as well as a comprehensive section called Condo Central on condos in the north shore. These features, in addition to the well designed layout, helped push it into the third spot.
The top honors for individual agent websites goes to a very clever and charming site by Jacob Clayton. “I try to put a lot of me in the website to create a comfortable, laid-back approach. I think the graphics I chose or created, the integrated property search, and the news updates offer a new and different way to approach real estate web design,” says Jacob. Ana Schmitz, one of the contest judges, notes that, “The site had personality! From all the sites I’ve seen, this one would elicit a response from me.”
Just like the individual agent winner from last year, Jacob’s site is powered by the free blogging platform, Wordpress. There’s a variety of technology behind the scenes of this unassuming site that provides a rich user experience. Web pages for each market area feature a collection of town info, school info, “stuff to do,” dynamically generated market statistics, and property listings. These collections put a wealth of useful data at visitors’ fingertips without the need to surf through multiple pages. A real stand-out, Jacob has successfully differentiated himself from the crop of generic real estate websites. First runner-up
– Suzanne Koller,
Keller Williams, Bedford
A website is supposed to be an extension of your personal or company branding, and Suzanne Koller’s site is a fine example. The “simple and elegant site,” noted by contest judge Ana Schmitz, features original artwork to compliment the map-based search, WalkScore.com integration, and other helpful tools. The historic theme is even carried through to the choice of fonts proving even seemingly small choices can make a big difference. Social network connections are integrated into the contact option as well, to leverage the latest technologies. Second Runner-Up
– Lori Jurkowski,
Kinlin Grover GMAC, Chatham
A clean and concise site for Cape real estate, Lori Jurkowski provides ample resources for online buyers and sellers. Different domain names for the towns served help in search engine ranking and quick search options, with easy to find town information, round out this deserving winner.
The 2009 Panel of Distinguished Judges
Ben Martin is the VP of Marketing & Communications for the Virginia Association of REALTORS® in Richmond. He was recently cited in a 2008 Inman News report, 25 Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers.
Ana SchmitzCommunications Associate, Center for REALTOR® Technology at the National Association of REALTORS®