Posts Tagged ‘idx’

Responsive WordPress Websites & IDX For Real Estate Agents

Written by Tom Fernandez. Posted in Real Estate Websites, WordPress

responsive wordpress realestate webdesign

In recent months there’s been a lot of noise in the WordPress development world on responsive website design. DIY Themes, developers of Thesis, and StudioPress, developers of the Genesis framework have recently added “responsive” to their feature set. The Warp WordPress theme framework, and it’s WidgetKit are now fully “responsive” too.

That’s awesome, because Warp is our framework of choice and all of our new projects will be responsive. But what exactly does “responsive” web design mean?

How is this different than mobile optimization and if your website is “responsive” than does that automatically make your IDX system pages responsive too?

Below is a portion of a good article on responsive web design for real estate websites over at Teamhardison.com that I thought I should share…


Is ‘Responsive’ it an emerging buzzword and little more?

In short, no.  It IS a buzzword, for sure!  Be prepared to spend the next year or two having everyone tell you that “you need it”, or “must have it”, or that “you’re an idiot not having it”.  Be prepared for everyone to call every display that doesn’t look completely ridiculous a “responsive” display.  Responsive will, for a time, be the buzziest of buzzes, but here’s the difference.  This has merit.  Not that others don’t…  My problem is that once the SNO (Shiny New Object) Job gets going it can be very difficult to evaluate these things objectively, keeping in mind your organizations needs and any additional costs, time and resources.

Brand consistency is important for Scott, so responsive was (in our opinions) the right choice for him, as it will be for the vast majority of our clients, which is why we’ve chosen to go responsive as a developer.  Of course, we will have clients that don’t require it at some point and for them, we may go another way such as WP Touch as we have in the past.  The point is that NO ONE SHOULD BE RUNNING OUT AND REDOING THEIR SITES SO THEY’RE RESPONSIVE WITHOUT THE NUMBERS TO JUSTIFY IT!  Please don’t fall for the impending hype.

Real Support for Responsive – Who has it?

The biggest problem for those that want to go truly responsive on their WordPress Real Estate sites is going to be IDX and how they handle mobile on their end.  Keep in mind that the majority of WordPress enabled IDX’s feed displays aren’t on pages you own or have the ability to edit, so you’re beholden to IDX Providers in many ways.

Zillow isn’t ‘Responsive’, but…:

Zillow’s Diverse Solutions product has gone in a different direction thus far, developing a mobile web app that allows site visitors using mobile phones or tablets to access listing data using a native mobile interface, but this isn’t responsive.  Again, you lose a degree of control over the experience and certainly lose brand consistency using this method.  The advantage is that it’s fast, easy, cost effective and does provide all the tools a mobile home shopper needs while still providing Agents and Brokerages all the lead capture and tools they require.  One slight disadvantage with with Zillow method is that any page containing their content will automatically recognize the use of a mobile device and effectively steal that user away from your site which can also be a problem when trying to create a consistent user experience.

IDX Broker Platinum has the best of both worlds:

IDX Broker’s new (still in beta) Platinum product essentially bridges both worlds, giving you standard displays that are flexible enough to make fully responsive for mobile visitor AND maintain control over both the experience and brand representation, AND they also have a mobile web app that works in much the same way Zillow’s does.  As a user / developer, you can use either, as IDX Broker has had the foresight to leave these choices up to you.  It is very important to remember that this product is still in development, so we have not yet seen everything it can do.

The only problem for responsive displays on mobile devices that IDX Broker has at this moment is that mobile-like services such as location services aren’t available via their desktop services.  So while the displays look great on a mobile device, and searching remains easy, it’s lacking the more automated mobile feel of their mobile web app.  But if I’ve learned anything at all about IDX Broker in the past few weeks it is that they have no fear of taking a new approach and I have a distinct feeling this won’t be an issue for long.

More great reads on the Responsive web design issue:

Smashing Magazine: Responsive Web Design: What is it and how to use it

Smashing Magazine: Why We Shouldn’t Make Separate Mobile Websites

Why Google loves responsive design (and you should too)

Weighing Options: WPTouch, Responsive Design and Your Mobile Strategy


Depending on the IDX system you have or are considering purchasing there are some detailed questions to ask.

My take on “responsive” is similar to what’s been expressed above. It’s not necessarily a “must have” at this time but my guess is that it will become more important in the not too distant future. As mobile internet use continues to grow exponentially year over year it’s always a good to be ahead of the curve.

IDX web sites, CMA software & CRM tools are the most important tools in the real estate industry with the highest overall usage

Written by Tom Fernandez. Posted in IDX Systems, Real Estate Websites

realestate technolog yinfographicA recent survey of more than 2,000 real estate Professionals by ActiveRain & Market Leader details usage and average price paid for real estate technology and marketing solutions.

SEATTLE, WA, Jun 26, 2012 (MARKETWIRE via COMTEX) — A recent survey of more than 2,000 real estate professionals has indicated overall spending on technology and technology-related marketing services is increasing, especially among the industry’s most successful agents, but real estate professionals continue to invest in direct mail as a preferred marketing vehicle.

Collected from among the more than 220,000 ActiveRain real estate professional community members as well as Market Leader customers, the survey focused on measuring what software and marketing support real estate agents are using in their business and how much they are spending on these necessary tools of the trade.

An infographic and deeper summary of the survey’s findings can be downloaded at www.activerain.com/real-estate-marketing .

“Real estate professionals are accelerating their investments in technology-based marketing options, but there’s not always a direct correlation between where they’re spending money and where they’re getting value,” said Nikesh Parekh, chief executive officer for ActiveRain. “More agents are investing in the technology and pipeline management systems necessary to build successful, long-term businesses.”

Other highlights from the survey include:

  • IDX web sites, CMA software, contact management, and email marketing
    continue to be the most important tools in the real estate industry
    with the highest overall usage
  • Real estate agents earning more than $100,000 per year are willing to
    pay a premium for top IDX web sites, contact management solutions,
    virtual tour software, and team management
  • Most other categories of software / technology show a reasonable fixed
    price per month regardless of the annual income of the agent
  • More kinds of marketing and advertising solutions are used by agents
    with no single solution having dominant share
  • Online agents are spending the most on lead generation, national real
    estate web sites (Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com) and pay-per-click
    advertising
  • Social media, blogging, and SEO have the broadest agent participation
    but low monthly spend, due to the predominance of free tools
  • Direct mail has the largest agent participation of any offline
    marketing & advertising solution, regardless of agent income
  • Top producing agents earning more than $100,000 per year spend more in
    general across all categories but spend more money on online lead
    generation, national real estate web sites, and search engine
    marketing. Top producing agents spend significantly more per month on
    marketing personnel and training/coaching

  • View the complete infographic here:

    Data provided by ActiveRain.com. Join 220,000+ Real Estate Agents on the world’s largest Real Estate Social Network.

Market Leader IDX / Search Engine Marketing Solution for Realtors

Written by Tom Fernandez. Posted in IDX Systems

Market Leader is interesting, for somewhere between $249 and $399/mo they promise you a minimum of 100 visits to your website (they provide) and some good analytics and that’s that. Aside from a widget they provide there is no way to incorporate anything this system does with what you may already be doing or want to do (internet marketing related) in the future. It’s a turnkey PPC solution for realtors that operates with a standalone nature. With that said, you can manually add contacts to the back-end and apparently you can, with one click, add your listings to craigslist and they also have auto syndication of your listings to the major listing hubs like Trulia, MSNBC, oodle, homescene, justlisted.com and a few others. If only there was a way to incorporate the strengths of what Market Leader does with other valuable internet marketing strategies and platforms…but if you’re getting good results from a system like this than perhaps it’s a moot point(?).

Click to read the complete review of Market Leader at www.nofluffreviews.com

Read, write and comment on other reviews for real estate professionals here

IDX Broker Review

Written by Tom Fernandez. Posted in IDX Systems

A review of the widely respected IDX Broker IDX system for real estate agents and brokers. Read my opinion on their strength’s and weaknesses. Weigh in yourself as well by joining in on the conversation.

Strengths

  • Fairly simplistic search with satellite map search capability
  • Ability to produce RSS feeds of listing data (your listings only – on the back end)
  • Captures referring url for lead sourcing at the lead/contact level
  • Analytics for key measurement criteria
  • Fairly inexpensive and feature rich
  • Customizable look and feel if your into editing css/html files
  • Basic customization of lead capture/ user registration settings (yes/no or # pre-defined # of search or detail views)

Weaknesses

  • Limited contact management ability, no emailing/drip email campaigns or email blasting
  • Can’t easily view listings viewed or saved by registrants (have to log in as them to see this data)
  • No RSS feeds of listing data (other than your own listings) to create indexable content

Summary & Conclusion

At first, I was extremely excited about this vendors IDX System because of the powerful customization options built into the back-end. You can really make this system blend into your existing website from a look and feel standpoint and even use your own search forms as long as you use the right css commands to interact with their system. The downside though is that the contact management portion of this IDX system is a little sub-par and in my view this creates an unavoidable problem. With the addition of some solid contact management abilities and a customizable user registration setting this IDX system could be a real force to be reckoned with. My experience in dealing with them so far has been fantastic, they are really a responsive and nice group people and that in itself should be valued highly. And, though their IDX system isn’t technically an iFrame based solution you or your web designer will simply be creating wrapper pages to integrate into your existing site/blog so unless you get into some creative workarounds, none of the MLS listing data will be getting indexed on your site.

Over To You…

Are you an IDX Broker customer? If so, leave a comment and tell us your thoughts