Websites – Off The Shelf v’s Bespoke?

When designing and developing a website it’s tempting to get an affordable, standardised template site that on the surface of it covers the basic things you need. Ultimately though, you have to consider what your website says about you and your brand (if it’s cheap and off the shelf, why would your customer service be any different?). Estate agent software has typically been slow and clunky but with the property market on the up, more estate agents are becoming digitally savvy and going bespoke!

In the digital world your website is often the first point of contact a potential customer has with your brand, with that in mind, your website should be as unique as your company. Worth more than £500 all inclusive don’t you think?

When it comes to spending money it pays to think in terms of return on investment rather than initial outlay. A cheap, poorly functioning site won’t get results and will be detrimental to your brand – eventually costing you money. Once you’ve gained web traffic the aim is to convert leads and get results, your website is a key tool for your sales team. Cheap to buy and easy to set up template sites simply don’t offer the options required for customising content to your needs. By using a template site, your website will look the same as all your competitors using similar template-style sites. In a cut throat profession differentiation is key!

The estate agent industry in the UK is specialist and faces unique challenges, therefore it’s important your web development company know what’s different about your sector and don’t treat it the same as doing a job for a new restaurant or second hand car company. Previously there was a feeling in the sector that estate agents didn’t need to spend money on their own sites as portals such as Rightmove handle the selling aspect. Now those leading in the sector want and expect to develop a website which convert leads and generate money as well as being a shop window for their services. Industry leaders we’ve worked with such as EweMove are an example of this, requiring continual data capture throughout the site which a template version simply couldn’t handle.

Whilst the houses you sell often needs a makeover and spruce up before being market-ready, so does your website. It’s important to understand a website needs to be kept up to date and current, reflecting your brand at any given time.

In a fast paced, ever changing industry you need a site which can offer strategic call-to-action points throughout, optimising your rate of conversions.

Here’s a few things you might want your site to do to get the best results that a template solution can’t offer:

  1. SEO – Template sites often use outdated code which can have an impact on your search, making finding and indexing keywords more difficult, as well as being incompatible with some browsers.
  2. Stand out – as mentioned you want your website to stand head and shoulders above the competition, not look the same!
  3. Integrate – you will want to update your properties in one place so the ability to integrate with Zoopla and Rightmove is key. Other useful value adding features include instant valuation tools and survey forms for lead capture as well as Google maps to ensure users can locate desired properties effectively.
  4. With bespoke sites more time is spent to ensure your site and its various features work across multiple platforms such as tablets and mobile, this is critical as a high percentage of web traffic is carried out on mobiles and tablets. With over 40% of web traffic coming from mobile usage that’s a captive audience you can’t afford to ignore!
  5. Effective user experience – you want your target audience to access the information they want as quickly and effectively as possible, a bespoke solution is built around the specific needs of your audience.

Also it’s important to remember that your website is only as successful as the marketing behind it – once you’ve started gaining lead conversions, what online communication do you have? social media, email campaigns, SEO for more targeted activity? Look for a website development company who manage this for you too.

Here’s a few sites that we have developed bespoke/customised solutions for to help meet their individual business objectives:

EweMove From 3 to 90 franchises – this site has grown and evolved with the EweMove brand!

Meyers Estate Agents A site design to provide the best possible result for property sellers and landlords they dared to be different, it worked and they now have their first franchise!

McDonald Property Rentals  As a top regional letting agents McDonald have gone for a brand that’s friendly and local whilst still being unique and cutting edge

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