With any luck, 2016 will be the year you finally break away from your franchise’s website template. Flat design, full page video and custom, micro-interactions will be present in upcoming website designs.

  • There is great value in one-stop, template-based website design services, but ground-up original constructions can create powerful consumer engagement.

Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.

With any luck, 2016 will be the year you finally break away from your franchise’s website template.

The stoic, visually droll pages that brokers somehow sell to new agents have been growing ever more pixelated thanks to the growth of companies like Wingwire and Placester.

Still, as convenient, affordable and well-orchestrated as the sites offered by such companies can be, I’m still a fan of ground-up, business-driven layouts molded by the keystrokes and artistry of website design companies.

If this is the direction you’re headed, here are some of the design trends and features that will help showcase your brand this year.

1. 100-percent responsiveness

This may seem as obvious as a TRID violation, but the number of sites out there that are usable on mobile devices as only smaller versions of their desktop selves are too many to count.

[Tweet “I’m a fan of business-driven Web design molded by keystrokes and artistry.]

What we’ll see in 2016 is the onset of responsive sites that are much more functional than what’s out there now. Sites will perform equally well on every device, not just a smartphone. Sites will realign to orientation changes more quickly and load faster.

responsive_web_design
image source: http://www.s3optimization.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/responsive_web_design.jpg

2. More color-coding

I look for this in the software products I review. Associating color with a command creates visual familiarity, calmness and thus, easy adoption. This is a design concept no more complicated than “red, white and blue.”

This year’s websites will see bold, contrasting colors to drive attention to headlines, listing titles, prices and agent contact information.

3. Informality

MailChimp_InterfacePerhaps my favorite thing about MailChimp is that its text confirmations, prompts and commands feel like a conversation with a friend.

Ditch the pejorative “submit” button on a property alerts form and instead use fun phrases and textual high-fives like, “Let’s get you in a home!” or “You got this!”

Heck, as much as it pains me severely (like, root canal pain) to type this: consider the use of emojis in your confirmation subject lines.

Websites will see bold, contrasting colors to drive attention to headlines.

(I have a tech entrepreneur friend who’s a million-dollar buyer in his late 50s who can’t text three words without an emoji. Scarily enough, they’re not just for your kids.)

Be authentic and approachable in your use of these “micro-interactions.” Let your competitors devolve with hard-nosed coachspeak.

4. Content panels

I’ve seen this in a few software products already, and it works very well. It’s a visual theme of using multisized “cards” to present and deliver content in easy-to-digest portions.

In the current age of flat design (also increasingly evident), these cards provide a visual destination on which eyes can focus, like in the marketing tools built by the text-driven ListReports.

ListReports_Website

Pinterest took this theme to new levels, and it’s largely responsible for the company’s obscene popularity.

Users are compelled to keep browsing as related segments of content continue to appear. Nothing is disjointed.

5. Full-page video

The folks at Climb Real Estate will be happy to read that I’m once again picking on their website.

Because — it uses this visually compelling tactic and executes panel-based content and other flat design themes.

Video is getting easier to create, strong Wi-Fi access is everywhere, and devices are rich with RAM. So why aren’t you filming?

From a storytelling perspective, background video provides subtext. Our brains are quickly adapting to the simultaneous absorption of multiple media types. Thus, we can read and comprehend text and prioritize other visuals as we subliminally stream what’s happening in the background.

We’re now four days into 2016. It’s not too late to make some marketing and technology resolutions more bold than “Stop using Excel.”

Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe.

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