The T3 Fusion Website Rankings were the first of its kind. Created by T3 Sixty, one of the most notable consultancy organizations in residential real estate, they fused criteria for website usability, performance, and design to recognize real estate websites that excel on search engines, user engagement, and their ability to advance a brokerage’s brand. The finalist’s websites offered best-in-class digital experiences for home buyers and sellers. 

The judges – MAXA Designs, Benchmetrics, ListTrac, and Liveby – alongside T3 Sixty based their rankings on 28 different factors in usability, performance, and design. And, while one of the goals for these rankings was to name and recognize the best brokerage websites and their providers in the country, they were also an opportunity to provide insights gleaned from reviewing over 500 brokerage websites. 

Let’s dive into some insights from the T3 Sitxty Fusion Website Rankings: 

Simpler websites perform better

One of the most important factors in website performance is speed. Search engines, like Google, have always looked for sites with fast page speeds and a clear path to the most pertinent information. Real estate sites can quickly become bogged down with tons of features like real-time manipulation of the MLS, high-resolution photos, and overly designed widgets; while important, they tend to use up lots of processing power and bandwidth. At the same time, though, you need to create a memorable website with essential features so that people continue to return and recognize your brand (more on that later). Simpler websites often strike the perfect balance between art and science, with a well-thought-out design and engaging features that load quickly so users can easily find the information they’re looking for. The faster and easier it is to use a website, the better it will perform in search engines.

The real estate industry continues to design websites desktop-first

We all know most people will view your site on mobile. This might sound like no duh, but the overly ambitious widgets, maps, and visuals are usually viewed in the production process by developers and clients on a desktop. We spend a lot of time perfecting these widgets on the desktop only to have them minimized, mitigated, or simply left off on the mobile version of the site.

Designing for mobile-first also means using shared and learned language of how to interact with our sites. People are often on their phones in their day to day, so there is a lot of learned interaction we can pull on with how we layout a website and layout our widgets. An easier and faster experience is easy to craft when we look at what is already working on mobile. For example, instead of having arrows to navigate slideshows on mobile, we’ll just allow users to swipe through the images. This lets them have a fast and quick positive interaction that eventually is associated with the site and the brand. At Union Street Media, 60% of all our client traffic comes from mobile devices, and we continue to make improvements that take into consideration a user’s mobile experience.

A positive correlation exists between the engagement time and engagement rate

To increase time on site (engagement time) we need to provide meaningful content to users. Meaningful content and properly curated listings give users an insider look at the different options in your specific market. At Union Street Media, we found that recommended searches with links to community information, stats, demographics, and blog posts are relevant information and will increase time on site. And the more time they’re spending on site, the higher the chance they will engage. It’s not just the communities that they’re looking for either!

A recent study by 1000 Watt and T3Sixty, found that there’s a difference in perception between what agents and brokers think buyers value and what they actually value. The study showed that while agents feel their job is to find a house, buyers value an agent’s ability to navigate the transaction, provide advisement, and make sure the transaction is ultimately successful. Focusing on education about the buyer journey with content on your website is a great way to increase session time and, as a result, engagement.

63% of the sites received four or fewer points in the T3 Fusion Ranking for their memorability

More than half of the sites lacked differentiation to help with brand recall. This speaks to how strong your design effectively presents your brand. Are you using the colors, themes, content, and messaging that conjure your brand? Is it consistent with all other marketing efforts? Are you designing your site to keep the brand top of mind and easy to identify throughout the site? Branding is all about building trust; visitors want to understand who they’re getting this information from.

And, here’s the ugly honest truth about our industry: it’s easier to make sites that look the same. It allows for scalability and quick turnaround – those are good things! We want sites to be ready quickly to capitalize on current market conditions and be informed by insights gained from hundreds of sites and millions of visitors. At the end of the day, though, it’s important to understand that scalability can limit design, which impacts your memorability. Though 90% of buyers surveyed said they would use their past agent, only 13% did. Your site should indicate your brand, differentiate your value proposition, and get people to recall and return to your site as that trusted source.

Accessibility is still lacking on many real estate websites

Accessibility continues to be an important concentration for us at Union Street Media. When building our award-winning real estate websites, we pay close attention to ADA guidelines and ensure your site is scannable and readable by a screen reader. This involves ensuring your website is navigable by keyboard, descriptive text is included for all images, colors are high contrast, and fonts are of legible size and weight. This allows any users with disabilities to access the same information and data on our websites as well as any users without impairments. 

Year after year, our Union Street Media websites are recognized for striking the balance between art and science. We continue to collaborate with our clients to showcase their brand and keep visitors engaged. 

Looking for an award-winning website that helps you stand out online? Reach out so we can help sculpt your vision into a site that drives value for you and your clients. Who knows – you might just be in the T3 Fusion Website Rankings next year!

Take a look at all of our T3 Fusion finalists here!