What makes a website great? Is it the appearance? The functionality? The load speed? The content? Or the layout?
Truthfully, it is likely that a combination of all of those components are the deciding factors to whether you stay on a website or leave immediately after it loads.
The original BuyerMax website was developed in 2007 and because of the high employee turnover (due to hiring college students) and lack of an employee dedicated to website maintenance, it has been neglected ever since.
I started working at BuyerMax – RE/MAX Whatcom County, Inc. in August of 2015, knowing that two short years later I would graduate college and move on to a career somewhere south of Bellingham. From the beginning the website had been a sore spot for me, something that I wanted to “fix,” but didn’t know if I was the right person for the job.
As a marketing student, I have learned that the best kind of marketer is a well-rounded marketer and it wasn’t until spring quarter of my junior year did I take an interest in coding. Little did I know, that following summer my boss would bring up the idea of redoing our website.
From the second he brought it up, I knew that redoing the website was going to be my “big” project. Something I could add to my portfolio and something that I could really take pride in. So basically I was all in.
I started doing research and I had many questions. Were we going to stay with the same website host? Was I going to attempt to do all of the coding myself? How much of our current website did we want to keep? Should we hire a website designer?
After weighing our options and reviewing courses on Codecademy, I decided that we needed to bring in an expert. This realization ended up delaying the project and it wasn’t until after the 1st of the year when we decided to hire a website designer, that we really started the process. Based on a recommendation, we decided to hire a local web developer/UI design specialist, Maggie Wettergreen.
Maggie and I were able to collaborate and make our vision for the website become a reality. She took care of all the “hardcore” coding and I focused on content.
Here are before and after pictures of the BuyerMax website.
As you can see, the old homepage (as did the entire site) had a blocky layout and did not utilize the full width of the screen. It offered the user a small search box in the corner and overloaded them with information they may or may not have found relevant. When deciding how to upgrade the homepage, I asked myself what the most important feature on a real estate website should be. The answer was obvious, home search. According to our Google analytics, the number one most visited page on our site (no matter the session length) was the search all listings page. If users want to search listings then why not give them the opportunity to do so the second they land on our page.
Buy A Home
Sell A House
Simplicity was the main focus of this makeover.
I wanted our visitors to be able to find what they were looking without having to dig too deep to find it. We updated it a more modern, wide-screen layout and increased the focus on using the footer as a go to source for quick links for our most popular pages.
In addition to the improved aesthetics, we had Maggie optimize our website for mobile usage (we are still finicking with this). The old website was not mobile friendly at all, so this is a huge improvement. The new site is very intuitive and will eventually adjust to any screen size.
We are still making some small changes to the wording and content on each page but for the most part our website is complete. The new website launches tonight, 3/29/17.
Redoing the BuyerMax website was a fun experience and something I hope I get to experience again in the future.
Click here to check out our new and improved website!