Posts Tagged ‘wordpress’

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.

How To Weave IDX Info And Page Specific Calls To Action

Written by Tom Fernandez. Posted in IDX Systems, WordPress

Calls to action exampleYou know that saying “the devil is in the details” well it seems appropriate for this post as we take a closer look at some subtleties that often make the difference between a good -vs- average real estate website.

This post highlights a very important aspect of creating page specific content in your WordPress sidebars to generate leads and increase your SEO.

Below is an excerpt here from a post on the Diverse Solutions Blog that goes into more detail…

Page Specific Calls To Action

The last major takeaway from Jesse’s site is his effective use of the right-hand column to generate leads. Apart from his homepage, each section of Jesse’s site has page-specific lead capture tools and widgets content in the right-hand column.

Buyers are interested in homes and finding that great deal. Jesse targets these visitors on his buyers-related pages by offering a search form and an ad-like button to jump straight to foreclosures, along with testimonials to help establish his credibility.

“Sellers” pages include a home evaluation form, a blog subscription form, and testimonials from sellers. Individual listings include his “Find a Foreclosure” ad, a listing map widget, and additional testimonials. The contact and about pages of his site follow this same pattern, with various contact options and forms in the right-hand column.

Buyers want to see homes. Sellers want to know what their home is worth. In every case, the calls to action are always specific to the page they are viewing. Jesse only shows visitors calls to actions that they will respond to based on what page they are on, and as with any other marketing, the more targeted you are, the more effective you’ll be.

You can recreate this effect by building alternate lead-capture sidebars for your site, then choose which sidebar appears on each page. You can create one sidebar to appear on property pages, another for buyer-related pages, one for seller-related pages, and one more for generic pages.

Alternatively, you can use a plugin like Widget Logic to enable or disable individual widgets from appearing on specific pages. With this method, you can specify which widgets will appear only on buyers pages, which will appear only on sellers pages, and which will appear on listing pages — without needing to create separate sidebars for each page type.

NOTE: When we develop real estate websites on the Warp Framework the Widget Logic plugin is not needed because this feature is included by default.

Here’s how it’s done with Warp:

    1. Navigate to the Widget Options page.
    2. Click on the sidebar / location to select the appropriate widget
    3. Highlight the page(s) and/or category(s) using the ctrl key on your keyboard
    4. Click save

Screenshot example:

Warp widget options

However you implement, be sure your site incorporates clear calls to action; ideally targeted for the right visitor at the right time.

Our thanks to Jesse for putting together such a great looking site that seemlessly integrates widgets and search tools from both our IDX products. Whether it’s the simplicity of colors and fonts, his above-the-fold -focused homepage, or his dense community pages, I’m sure everyone can find some inspiration from his site. If you have questions or need help implementing any of the tricks you see on his site, let us know!

As I mentioned above, page specific content is often subtle but hugely important. It’s something we focus on for our website clients and it’s something you should too. If you have any questions on how to implement page specific calls to action or IDX widgets, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Alternatively, if you’ve recently implemented a good example of page specific sidebar content please feel free to share it with us!

 

Additional related reading:

Guide to IDX Listing Email Alerts
Strategies for Combining IDX Map Search & IDX Plugin Features