Great websites are born from a clear purpose.
Purpose is the focus of the 2015 Outstanding REALTOR® Association Website Contest: What is the purpose of your association website?
What need are you trying to fill?
For many associations, and especially our winners, redefining the purpose of their web presence led them to remove the clutter and focus on a singular objective.
It starts with the members. Through surveys, work groups, focus groups, retreats, and other dialogue, associations asked members what they wanted. Through usage analytics, they tracked members’ actions.
Members want a user-friendly public property search and somewhere to refer clients for area information, contest entrants said. They want a calendar of events, easy class registration, local market data, forms, and searchable member profiles—and all of it mobile-ready.
The strong request to provide property and consumer information (and, in many cases, combine the association site and the MLS site) was surprising, many entries noted, because their sites had been mainly association-focused. They were reluctant to push association products and services to the background. Yet the choice became: Attract members with what they want while still making association information available, or see site visits (along with your value proposition) continue to drop.
The three winning sites (in no particular order here) display purpose, but, coincidentally, three different purposes. They have a clear objective, and their sites meet that objective with effective architecture, design, and content.
Judges were impressed with the way associations have overall uncluttered, streamlined, and simplified their web presence.
Visit these sites online to experience their winning qualities.
Honolulu Board of REALTORS®
Mission: Have the most comprehensive and up-to-date property search allowing prospective home buyers and renters to easily plan their open-house visits and search by island, neighborhood, new listings, and more—whether using a laptop, tablet, or smartphone.
From the judges: “The association nailed its story by showing the beauty of the island, which is what their members are selling. I found myself actually looking for property in Hawaii. The mobile site is set up very well. I don’t see much content really geared toward the REALTOR® members (education, RPAC, professional standards), but that is not the goal they laid out in the site. They wanted a consumer site, and they achieved that.”
Oregon Association of REALTORS®
Mission: Communicate information and resources to members and to secondary audiences of local associations and consumers. Make an online repository of tools to enable members to help themselves at their own convenience, and think about the needs of the customers to align the site architecture with their most frequently requested information.
From the judges: “This is a members’ site first and foremost. Extremely well-organized and very user-friendly. I found the content right where I thought I would. Data is very fresh and the calendar at the top of the page is great, very timely. It really captured the broad state focus while sharing local information where needed and pulling it all together in a concise package. Good use of video enhancements.”
Knoxville Area Association of REALTORS®
Mission: Effectively communicate with members, whether in regard to their day-to-day business or services that the association can provide, such as education, MLS, professional standards, and much more. Although members’ business is the primary focus, recognize the role the association and its members play in the community. Highlight community involvement, RPAC, and all other ongoing major news and events by incorporating these on the home page so that members are reminded to help serve the community.
From the judges: “The website offers an outstanding user experience. The wallpaper is consistent throughout the website and is aesthetically balanced and pleasing. Clean, simplistic, and focused. Interesting shift away from consumer-focused to more member-focused with more emphasis placed on community outreach from NAR while still delivering valuable consumer content. Valuable, accessible content overall. There seems to be something for all REALTORS® who might visit the website. The navigation menus are consistently placed and understandable. You get what you want with only one click.”
Stay tuned for the next best association website contest in 2017.