Why Commercial Agents Need Specialist Help – Part 1

| Web design

Why Commercial Agents Need Specialist Help – Part 1

I was recently listening to a Chartered Surveyor in Worcestershire, bemoaned the trauma that was a 12-month build of a company website, that 6-months on he realises is not serving his business. “The whole process was painful…”, “…every stage of the build took forever” and ‘…they (the design agency) were incapable of understanding what we needed” gives you a general feel for the conversation.

What sort of property sector clients did the designer have?” I asked. It transpired that this Chartered Surveyor had chosen to work with a website design agency local to him. “Well they had some really impressive clients”.

That may be, but as this Chartered Surveyor has learnt to his cost, if you are looking to update your company’s website it really does pay to turn to a design agency that has specialist knowledge of the commercial property sector.

Over the next couple of weeks, I am going to look at some of the reasons why using a specialist property website designer is a shrewd decision:

1. Expert In The Property Sector

First and most obvious, you don’t need to educate the designer or bring them up to speed about the commercial property market. Specialist website designers already have a deep understanding of the property sector, built up over many years. In many cases, they will be able to advise you on what is best for your company.

The technology that sits behind the website will have been developed and refined over a number of years to respond to the changing needs of the commercial property sector.

A company like Resource Techniques for example builds both residential and commercial agent websites as well as a number of property portals. In total they have built in excess of 500 property sector websites.

2. A Tailored User Experience

So specialist website designers have an insight into the behaviour of visitors to your website. Navigation, architecture, page layout even the type of imagery used are all based on a detailed knowledge of how commercial property clients use and interact with your website.

A good commercial property website will have simple, clear navigation. The home page will have a clear call to action with a prominent property search. Research has shown that over 70% of traffic to an Estate Agent website for example click on the property search as soon as they land on the website.

A specialist knows what your audience expects and what you have to compete against, so pictures and plans will be large. Opening them will not navigate the user away from the property details or open an annoying ‘pop-up’ window.

A good user experience is so much more than the above and a good specialist will have great insight into this.

3. Website Build time

As our Chartered Surveyor in Worcestershire has now learnt to his cost, a commercial property website should take a matter of weeks to build, not a matter of months. The process should not be painful, complicated or protracted.

It is all down to the accuracy of your brief and the speed that you can supply the content. A good specialist can help you with this. Typically, a commercial property agent’s website shouldn’t take no more than 2-3 weeks to build from the point you sign-off the design and content.

But beware, not all property website designers are that efficient. I have heard horror stories of even specialist designers who have build times that equate to months. In all cases, speak to some of the designers existing customers and find out how long their build took.

4. The Cost Of Your Website

Our friend in Worcestershire spent just over £7000 on his website, up front! He invested all that money in a website that is not scalable, flexible and could be out-of-date or no longer relevant to his business in as little as 3 years.

Most specialist property website designers do not charge large upfront fees’; instead they charge a small initial fee with an on-going retainer that covers on-going support and upgrades amongst other things, where our friend has to pay an hourly fee to make changes to his own website.

Specialist can do this because of the amount of property websites that they build. Therefore, in most cases you will not have spent under £7000 after 3 years and your website will be current.

But beware, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Even specialists can pull the wool over your eyes. Some designers may seem to provide a very cheap initial fee or retainer, by providing a very basic website. You then pay extra for essential extras like SEO (more of that next week). It is therefore important to compare like for like. So add up all those extras before making you choice.

Next week we will look at how a designer that specialises in commercial property websites can get your company seen more than your competition along with the clever ‘features’ that they create for your website. We will also look at how paying an on-going retainer is by far one of the best investments you’ll make.

By Philip Burrows, Marketing Consultant