Design

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4 Key Benefits of a Clutter-Free Navigation on Your Real Estate Website2018-11-27T23:39:15+00:00

4 Key Benefits of a Clutter-Free Navigation on Your Real Estate Website

Many agents ask “Can I add unlimited pages?” and our answer is NO. Not because our Brixwork system cannot do it, but because we are firm believers in the “less is more” mantra. Too many navigation elements at the top of the page is overwhelming and confusing.
For small businesses, less navigation is best because it not only allows your potential clients to find what they are looking for quickly and easily, but also provides a friendly and enjoyable user experience.

. . . .

Key Benefits of a Simple Navigation

This is an example of a site with a cluttered and overcrowded main menu, an issue that can be resolved by the appropriate use of dropdown menus.

A beautifully simple and organized menu design from the website of our client Devon Owen.

1. Better Visual Appeal

Having less menu items at the top of your site allows for a clean and inviting appearance. If your potential clients can easily navigate through you site;s pages to find the information they need, there is a  better chance of them spending more time on your site. People like it when information is categorized and organized. How crazy would a restaurant menu be if all of the dishes were listed without being split into appetizers, entrees and desserts? The importance becomes clear when you compare the following example to the menu design of our client Devon Owen’s website.

2. Better Niche Definition

Having clearly  labeled menu items help people find information quicker. For example, if an agent has numerous sub areas that they specialize in, it may make more sense to have a listing page for each sub area, or separate pages for sold and featured listings. This will help to direct potential clients to the exact page they are looking for, rather than having them search through endless pages of listings for a property they want.  When desired content can not be found quickly, people will be inclined to leave your site. Correct labelling is an  important factor in decreasing clutter, and increasing the amount of time people spend on your site.

3. Dropdown menus make navigation easier and more logical

Dropdown menus are a better way to navigate through multiple pages, as it is groups them into categories to make them easier to find. Naming your main menu items correctly not only keeps your menu bar looking clean, but also provides your potential clients with easy access to specific pages, and seamless transitions to related pages. Imagine how easy it would be to find a specific property type on Tyler Gregg’s Real Estate website.

A mobile responsive, categorized and organized submenu on the site of our client Tyler Gregg

4. Most Page Views Happen on Listing Pages

Based on our analysis of The Most Popular Pages on a Real Estate Website,  it is apparent that most page views occur on listing detail pages. Having too many resource and information pages can be a complete waste of time. Why fill your website with pages that your potential clients aren’t going to look at?

Google’s New Algorithm (Hummingbird) and Brixwork’s Response2013-09-30T18:54:53+00:00

All is smooth, and all is well.

When new algorithm updates roll out from Google, the implications are generally serious. While many websites benefit from the new algorithm, others see a severe drop in traffic. The algorithm, according to Forbes, has been active for over a month already. Some other sources have cited it was deployed more than several months ago, although Google’s announcement came only recently.

Over the weekend after our move to our new office (which we will cover soon enough) we have examined our Google Analytics records of our clients’ websites, and there have been no significant loss of traffic whatsoever – business as usual!

Google Hummingbird and Resulting Traffic

Google Hummingbird release had no negative impact on traffic to our clients’ websites whatsoever.

How did we manage to keep traffic up & steady?

We always emphasize great content structure, great navigation and clear/concise data presentation when it comes to our websites. Not only do our websites look great as a consequence, but well designed websites also tend to have better performance on Google as well. We do not utilize any black-hat methods of search engine optimization (stuff that, if Google finds you’ve done, will get your site demoted or even banned from Google). Delivering quality content through good code structure with a combination of posting on social media outlets and 3rd party websites with good reputation is our main game, and that will not change. Quality original content always wins out in the long run, according to Google.

So What’s Next for Brixwork’s real estate website clients?

Because we have been doing it the right way, no loss has been incurred as a result of this algorithm upgrade. We keep pushing forward. But, we believe in making things better all the time, so here’s what we have in our roadmap for all of our SEO packages:

Heavier Focus on Longer, Natural Queries – More “Human” Queries

Because the new upgrade algorithm has a heavy emphasis on long phrased natural queries, we will be focusing our SEO efforts in that direction to ensure that our clients’ real estate websites can be picked up. In fact, we have been focusing on long-trail queries already for quite a while now if you noticed. Previous upgrades to Google’s algorithms did start focusing shift on more natural phrased queries. For example, back in the days, people had to query like a computer (“Condos Yaletown Listing”). Nowadays, people are more used to testing Google with more complex searches (“West Vancouver Waterfront Homes For Sale”, or “Condos listed around the Waterfront Skytrain Station”).

Increases In Social Media Presence & Leveraging 3rd Party Websites

With an increasing shift from Google’s part to monitor human browsing behaviour, social shares on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ (especially) have an impact on your search engine performance. The visitor patterns on your website also have a feedback effect. And as always, other websites’ links that point back towards your webpage always helps. We are focused on finding quality websites that we can leverage for legitimate back-links. We never buy links, or link-spam your website address on sketchy blogs created by some guy sitting in his mom’s basement. We do things the white-hat way. Effort has its price, and it also has positive results on your marketing efforts, and that’s what we’re all about.

 

Version 3.8.5 released with some back-end updates2012-12-04T02:14:52+00:00

Later today the new version of BRIXWORK, 3.8.5, will be propagating throughout our networks automatically. This version includes several back-end updates to make life easier for our clients, some data field formatting bug fixes, speed improvements, and also very notably, WLS integration upgrades.

Back-End Updates & Bug Fixes

The edit home screen has been updated so that the MLS® number field is on the top of the form, easily accessible. This will be especially helpful when converting an MLS® sourced listing to your OWN listing.

The list of homes that you see when you click the HOMES tab under the Admin section now shows the MLS® # in the list for easy reference. The area/city has been merged into one field so save some screen space.

WLS Integration

Our latest project has been a website for a Whistler Real Estate Agent, Nick Harriss (Sotheby’s). This is our first project that involved utilizing the WLS® (Whistler Listing System – the Whistler equivalent to the MLS®) and we are now successfully integrated with the WLS® reciprocity system to get Whistler listings fed into our website systems!

Bug Fixes & Speed Improvements

The home square footages (including the upper/main/lower fields) now display with more precision. The numbers are automatically converted to include the comma at the thousand mark even if you miss it, or if the MLS® data is missing it. For example, “1249” will display as “1,249 sqft”.

We made changes to our cache controller so that your website viewers can load the pages even faster than before.

Improving Your Website Text with Headers & Font Styles2012-05-30T05:41:31+00:00

The Identity of Louis Riel’s Wife???

One of my memories from high-school include wondering why textbooks were formatted as they were. It was long – with paragraphs after paragraphs with a section break every page or two. To find something important, I had to scan through the tiny text for a while… and finally I’d find the tribe from which Louis Riel’s wife was from. It was boring, time-consuming to scan through, and it made me fall asleep. If textbooks were formatted in more interesting and attention grabbing ways, perhaps we would have all paid more attention.

It’s not as interesting to them as you’d think!

When one writes out his or her own biography, article or any other content, they are self-absorbed and narrow-perspectived- however the others visiting your site don’t necessarily share that enthusiasm about you (yet). Drowning the visitors with the typical “I care about you, I can negotiate, I put clients first, I have experience, I have a family and a dog” in 4 paragraphs is biography suicide. In fact the above short sentence would be more effective compared to having it take up half the page in longer sentences.

The question that the modern day marketer has to ask is, “How do I format my page so it’s not boring? How do I get across to my potential client without losing them among lines of scribble?” There are ways to make sure your website text is more interesting than my History 12 textbook from 10 years ago.

How to Make Your Content Text More Engaging, Less Boring, and More Effective/Efficient

1. Use Headings In Your Content Text

Website text is broken down largely into headings & paragraph text. Headings range from heading 1 to heading 6. Headings are like the pack leaders – for each paragraph or two, you should always put a heading above it that emphasizes the key points. Assume that 95% of visitors will scan through the headings and not even bother with your paragraphs (at least at first, they won’t).

What this technique can do for you:
  • Summarizes each paragraph, often with a colourful & larger font.
  • Creates visual division between long blocks of text, and draws the eyes quickly.
  • Gets the key points across to readers before they get bored by the long paragraphs.
  • Even if somebody had no intention of reading more, an enticing heading will get them to take a second look.
  • Keywords in headings have a larger impact on how Google sees your site. This has search engine optimization implications!

2. Bold, underline or italicize some of the text

If there are certain keywords within a paragraph that you’d like to put some extra jazz into (“Award winning”, “Vancouver local resident for 25 years” etc. are good examples), feel free to make those blocks of text bold, italic, underlined (or a combination of them). Just be careful to not over-do it – if you have too many of these, your content is going to look like it’s been ravaged by a pack of rats. Pick just a few very important ones you want to really get across to your new leads on your webpage.

What this technique can do for you:
  • Like the heading, draws the eyes by the emphasis.
  • For readers who are quickly scanning, they will pick up the keywords.
  • Google also likes to put more weight on words that are bolded or underlined. Accented words have a lot more relevance than the other several hundred words.

3. Don’t make your paragraphs too long. Use techniques #1 & #2 to help you achieve this.

Be concise. Short paragraphs are more popular, not only to high-school kids reading a textbook. If one sentence will do, don’t make two – instead, get more juice across by bolding some of the text that really matters. Don’t try to make two large points in one paragraph when it can be split into two.

What this technique can do for you:
  • Keeps your page clean & tidy, without being too long.
  • Not overwhelm the other elements of your page.
  • Give the due attention to headings & bold text for faster communication to the readers

An Example on Rhiannon Foster’s Website

Here is a before & after shot comparing the homepage intro text. After the text was modified to include some key headers, and some of the text bolded, the main points are delivered to viewers much quicker – Core Business Values, Professionalism, Authenticity & Education.

Before & After The Text Styling

 

BRIXWORK Version 3.7.23 released2012-05-15T15:07:42+00:00

Last night saw the release of version 3.7.23 for BRIXWORK {real estate} – the Realtor® website platform to move you forward! This is not a major upgrade, but important nonetheless.

A few bugs were caught & squashed, some user interface elements were updated and such. But the most important upgrade comes from the property fetching module. Some of the upgrades were courtesy of feedback from one of our loyal clients, Tyler Volker of West Vancouver.

New Listing flags for MLS® listings

Automated "Just Listed" or "New Listing" flags make browsing easier

Property Retrieval Module Upgrades

Our property display module has been going through some major upgrades, especially since the inception of the MLS Reciprocity integration we completed in 2011. “Completed” is a strange word in the world of software development, as it’s never really “complete”, but rather, a “phase” has been struck, with more improvements to come. Here’s what we improved on the property retrieval module:

  • Speed – we made code optimizations to speed up the retrieval of properties sorted by city & subarea flags.
  • Status remarks – for MLS® fed listings, we updated the remarks so that it automatically displays “New Listing” or “Just Listed” based on the listed date (beta)
  • Ordering & Sorting – for Realtors® who display a hybrid of their own listings as well as MLS® Reciprocity listings, we’ve created a multi-dimensional ordering scheme that gives you more flexibility.

User Interface Upgrades (Admin Panel)

The back-end (Admin panel) used by real estate agents to update & maintain their own sites has been upgraded.

  • Bugs in the resource/links section caught and fixed
  • Menubar on top given more space, the “NEW” badge removed (it’s been a while since our overhaul to version 3 with the new interface, we realized!)
  • Links to the support channel provided in more places for easy access (you can always directly visit support.brixwork.com for tech support)

Other than that, we made some small display adjustments, type-o fixing and more – nothing too noteworthy, so we’ll keep it short.

Why Beauty Matters On A Website2017-07-04T21:12:59+00:00

Design is more than just outside vanity. One of our mandates at BRIXWORK is to create beautiful Realtor® websites. Vanity is very real. Many traditional real estate sites lack focus on the beauty & visual elements, and we stepped into the real estate website market to change that. Sales is an emotional process; whether you are buying groceries, or a new home, the first impressions matter so much.

Success of Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram & Apple.. and more

Great visual impact has been one of the most important attributes for some of the most successful companies that rely on customer loyalty. And customer loyalty, referrals, and repeat business over many years is what can make the biggest difference to how successful your real estate business can be.

One of the greatest factors in Facebook edging out MySpace with so much ease was the simplicity & cleanliness of the design. MySpace users were given too much free reign to put too much colours, boxes, and ugly content all over their user profiles. In comparison, Facebook had a tight control over the layout & look of each page, and by having a good degree of restriction they managed to keep their website looking clean.

Apple was able to dominate the iPod market, squashing out the Zune MP3 player from Microsoft like a little bug. The simplicity of the design of the iPod with just a few buttons and a simple body was a clear winner. The iPads and iPhones are a similar story – simple clean designs, big screens for delivery of pictures & videos made it a clear winner in the smartphone & tablet market. Apple’s sales figures of the iPads are just enormous.

Vancouver Realtor Brodie Young on Main Street Template Website by Brixwork

 

Pinterest & Instagram are one of the most successful new web start-ups. Pinterest is a visual-driven website where people simply pin up pictures & images they like. The fact that a photo-only social network is able to so easily dominate the social media start-up market is telling of how visually motivated people are. Instagram provides mobile apps that allow users to edit their photos for beautiful photo effects (colour tones, frames etc.) with ease. It seems visually stimulating things are the most popular and most engaging to the human brain.

Websites that try to say too much about itself, or the agent, is the real-life equivalent of the guy who never shuts up and keeps on talking, without giving the customer a chance to react, communicate and offer some space to talk. We strive to design websites with less clutter, more valuable content (pictures & videos specifically), and most of all, a trust-invoking design.

 

A New Blog Post on Mashable.com

Mashable, which is one of the best online magazines discussing marketing, business and technology, has released a great article recently – Why Great Design Is The Future Of Content Marketing. It’s worth a read. The article focuses on:

  1. The importance of easy & effective user interfaces on popular apps proving a success
  2. How interactive design with some effects is better than a static, boring website with no responsivenes
  3. Less is more when it comes to design
BRIXWORK version 3.7.1 Upgrade Allows Flexible Login Options2018-11-06T20:06:29+00:00

BRIXWORK VERSION 3.7.1 UPGRADE ALLOWS FLEXIBLE LOGIN OPTIONS

We are proud and happy, as well as excited, to launch BRIXWORK {real estate} version 3.7.1! This is a rather major upgrade with some important functionalities, as well as import bug fixes throughout the site. Even if you do not see the update active right at this moment (it’s almost 11pm in Vancouver as I write this), the upgrade will be visible soon as the upgraded files propagate.

Remain Logged Into The Back-End (max 2 weeks)

The new login option for your back-end allows our Realtors® to remain logged in for a longer period of time. This is handy when you have a office or home computer that you constantly use to manage your website. The available options are: short (5 minutes), medium (1 hour), and long (2 weeks). Let us explain how this works: we do not mean that you will be bounced out of the system after 5 minutes of usage if you go with the shortest option. The time indicates the length of time your login is maintained after your last activity on the website. If you keep opening new sections as you work, you will never be logged out. If you stop your usage, however, the login will be valid during the inactivity for the specified length of time. The system also remembers the last username you used. We took inspiration from the login mechanisms of larger websites such as Facebook when we made this upgrade.

How long do you want to keep your login alive for?

Security is important, especially when using public computers

Please be careful to NOT use the extended login option when using a public computer. And for added security, even when you are using the short login options, be sure to hit the “log off” button on the top right when you are done when on a public computer. Any loss of data that occurs while a user is logged into the system is the responsibility of the client, and recovery efforts require a payment of $75/hour to cover the labour (unless of course the loss is a result of a system error).

Listing Data Bugs Squashed

Some properties on the system in the Vancouver region experienced a glitch in which the year built was not showing up on the property details page. This has been rectified.

There were some irregularities when converting a listing provided by the MLS® network to “my listing”. The frontage/lot depths reverted to 0.00 ft when blank, and our clients had to manually fix it. This has been fixed up. Also, when converting a listing to “my listing”, the photos are imported locally. However, if it’s your own listing, we recommend you delete all those photos and upload your own high-resolution photos. The MLS® system has restrictions on the size & quality of the photos, as well as the quantity.

Photo Gallery Management Page Links to Full Size Photos

When editing the photo gallery of your listings on the back-end, you are now able to open (and download) full resolution images that you have uploaded. This serves as a valuable photo back-up option as well, and gives you access to your high resolution property photos no matter where you are – just log in to the back-end, and download the photos!

Other Updates

These are updates that are not visible to you, but we’ll note them anyway to satisfy your curiosity.

  • jQuery & other javascript libraries upgraded
  • responsive mobile grid framework added to the master website for retrieval
  • PHP version upgraded to 5.3 throughout our servers, and the filebase updated for compatibility

We are committed to keeping up with the trends, the technology, and your taste! If you have any issues, please submit a ticket through our Support Desk!

Note that these upgrades are offered only for monthly subscribed clients. Legacy websites below version 3.5 need a major upgrade – contact our sales team.

Scalable Websites for Better Mobile & Tablet Performance2012-03-06T06:43:27+00:00

As we constantly strive to stay ahead of our competitors (who have been recently catching up frantically with some of our 2 year old features such as descriptive & Google friendly URLs), we are preparing another offering of some great functionality. Some of our clients’ websites have experienced close to 4X traffic from mobile devices between 2010 and 2011, and the trend continues. Being able to accomodate the mobile web traffic from iPhones, Blackberries, Android phones, and other tablets such as the iPad and the Playbook is critical to ensuring your customers see the best of you at all times.

Although our websites have already been mobile-friendly by following standards such as not using Flash animation, and using a 960 grid which is still considered the most universal website grid system that is more applicable to more devices, we decided to take it a step further.

A scalable grid concept has been adopted by BRIXWORK {real estate} after lengthy research. With this new system, your websites will automatically scale, and have different display styles on different parts depending simply on the size of the viewport on the client browser. This is a far more superior option compared to having a separate mobile site developed, and here’s why:

  • With a separate mobile site, the detection of devices is unreliable as new devices are released in the market all the time. It will inevitably choke at times.
  • A separate mobile site is very expensive. Either you have a mobile site that looks nothing like your regular site, OR a much higher budget is required to manage both regular and mobile websites, which is often a burden for small businesses. It’s no big deal to Facebook, but for our neighbourhood Realtors®, this is not reasonable.
  • This technology depends solely on the size of the viewport. That means this can accomodate people with smaller screens, or the odd occasions when somebody opens your website on a very small browser window. It’s not limited!

With our scalable mobile tech we hope to deliver a better Realtor®-client interaction to our clients.  Here’s an example of how the scaling works, using our new website which is going to be launched this week:

Real Estate Website on Full Size Browser

The new BRIXWORK website on a full size browser

Real Estate Website on Tablet viewport

The new BRIXWORK website on a smaller viewport such as a tablet

Real Estate Website on Tablet viewport

The new BRIXWORK website on an iPhone or similar small device

 

A New MLS® Search Form Ready for Realtors’ Websites2017-08-25T05:02:51+00:00

Further to our original Google Maps® based MLS® Search functionality (which is still the pinnacle of property searches, right on a map), we are getting ready to release another way to search the MLS® database. As of this date (Feb 17th 2012) this is only available for the REBGV Realtors®. For the customers who are more inclined to do a simple search of pictures & addresses (with no map), we are releasing a new simple search form.

This search form is innovative, and here’s how we made ours better:

  • Your customers can search multiple sub areas of a city easily (none of that “You have to hold the CTRL key” nonsense!)
  • Your customers can use the drop-down filters to set sqft/price ranges easily.
  • The listing results show large photos with the important data.
  • The search form can be tucked away using our slick drawer widget for a cleaner interface
  • The search results can easily be shared by the URL. Any search will trigger the URL to change to a search-engine-friendly URL, which you can then share on Facebook, Twitter, email – you name it!
MLS Search Form on Jack Ying, North Vancouver Realtor Website

Innovative MLS® Search Form with Drawer Function

The above is an example of it as implemented on Jack Ying’s website (www.jackying.ca), and the reactions are great so far. It’s easy to use, and it’s quick.

To discover this functionality in more depth, you can visit some sites we’ve installed this on:

To sign up for the best real estate websites available, please contact us now. We have stock templates available, and we also offer amazing custom designed websites!

 

February 20, 2019

Realtor® Website Pages Designed for 3–5x Better Performance

Is your website getting the numbers you want? Our bold designs are proven to give your website results by improving 3 key on-site metrics. Don’t settle for a cookie-cutter design like every Realtor®.

Written By Jeff Kee | Design & Visuals, Features & Development

January 8, 2019

What Is The Future Of The Real Estate Market?

It’s hard to predict the real estate market. The last downturn saw 1/3 of Realtors® hang their licenses and walk away. What’s your next move?

Written By Jeff Kee | Marketing & Promotion

January 3, 2019

Hiring – Office Admin & Customer Support Position (Maternity Leave Contract)

We are having a baby! We have a maternity leave position opening up to help with office administration and customer support. This is a great entry point into the industry for those who are eager to learn more about digital marketing & cloud web software!

Written By Jeff Kee | Company Updates

December 18, 2018

Get Your Branded Holiday Instagram/Facebook Posts Ready!

Its that time of year again! Make sure you have your graphics ready in time for this holiday season. Chose from a selection of beautiful posting templates for your Real Estate Instagram and Facebook pages for your social media presence to truly stand out.

Written By Jeff Kee | Design & Visuals, Social Media & Marketing

December 17, 2018

Listing Presentations & Buyers Guide Booklets Supercharged

You deserve better than generic, mass-produced, templatized listing presentations or buyers guidebooks. Stand out amongst thousands of competing Realtors®!

Written By Jeff Kee | Design & Visuals

November 1, 2018

Open House & Buildings/Presales Search Overhauls on Version 4.45

Our last major upgrade to finalize our move to the AWS cloud has springboarded us for even more enhancements to the Brixwork system, and packs some amazing new features to help our real estate pros gain more business. Learn how helping buyers find suitable listings has never been easier with version 4.45.

Written By Jeff Kee | Company Updates

October 31, 2018

4 Reasons to Upgrade Your Real Estate Listing Gallery Page

Showcasing your listings is one of the most important value you provide as a real estate agent. While the listing gallery systems on our templates are great as they are, our custom designed listing gallery icons have many benefits for your Real Estate business results!

Written By Jeff Kee | Featured Clients

October 19, 2018

Increase Realtor® Website Traffic with this Essential Tool

As the second most used search engine after Google, Youtube offers a variety of opportunities for Realtors® to increase website traffic and generate backlinks to their domain! Don't miss out on the opportunity to make the most of your Youtube Channel with these simple steps.

Written By Jeff Kee | Search Engine Optimization

October 11, 2018

Steady, Solid, Strategized SEO Results in Significant Traffic Growth

With a 34% increase in traffic, our dedicated SEO campaigns helped Vancouver based real estate website NestPresales.com improve SEO presence and google search traffic within as little as 3 months

Written By Jeff Kee | Search Engine Optimization

September 18, 2018

We Are Now 100% Running on the Amazon Cloud!

We are excited to announce that as of September 10th 2018, Brixwork has successfully completed the final stages to fully migrate everything to Amazon Web Services. With your real estate website running on the Amazon Cloud, listing pages & assets are loading faster than ever with better reliability

Written By Jeff Kee | Company Updates, Technology & Trends

September 11, 2018

MLS® Search By Street Name Now Available!

This has been one of the longest awaited features for a more robust & functional MLS® listing search. Many of you may have noticed this upgrade already on your websites if you are on the Main Street or our newest Fairview templates! Searching by street name is now available.

Written By Jeff Kee | Features & Development

September 10, 2018

Launch of Vancouver Island Real Estate (VIREB) MLS Integration

Brixwork is proud to announce that our premium templates and custom designed website services are now extended to the Vancouver Island area. With VIREB (Vancouver Island Real Estate Board) and VREB (Victoria Real Estate Board) MLS® Reciprocity, our functional real estate websites are available to real estate agents all across Vancouver Island. 

Written By Jeff Kee | Design & Visuals, Featured Clients, Features & Development

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