WEBSITE DESIGN - INPUT NEEDED

22 Replies

We are real estate developers, licensed in real estate and construction. We don't really work real estate as agents, other than to list and show our own properties, and purchase land for projects. Same with construction, we only build our projects, we don't do contract jobs. 

I have had two websites, one for the development/construction business, and one that is specifically as a gallery of projects we are currently building or on the drawing board. 

I had the sites with Vistaprint, because it was easy and it integrated a blog, email marketing and the website. I am now changing to someplace else, possibly Godaddy. 

QUESTION: 

There are options for "Website" or "Wordpress site", I'm told Wordpress allows more data, should I want to add a feature like IDX search later, etc. 

1. Can you help educate me on the differences. What is Wordpress? Then not only do I see "Wordpress" there's various "themes for Wordpress", and "Genesis" etc. What the heck is all of that? 

2. What's the difference between a 'website" and a "wordpress site"? 

@Brandon Turner  and anyone else that can help, please jump in!! 

Hello @Karen Margrave  

I am far from a website guru but my girlfriend is a health coach blogger and we had this similar discussion.

To me the game is all about a blog now!  Wordpress is the way to go imho   You get to tell the "story" of your business in a detailed and rich way.   A static website is sooo 2005 haha

The downside of a blog is it requires commitment to create some content.   As Josh and Brandon can attest it is not a small feat.  It can feel like groundhog day. I personally like the idea of combining Video and print snippets as Video for me seems easier to crank out.

Its a HUGE opportunity to tell a detailed story of just how awesome you are to invest with.  The effort is worth the reward in my book.  We no longer are slave to the telephone book or the TV stations to tell OUR story.

@Douglas Dowell  I like the idea of a blog too. At the same time, I need a site where we can showcase the houses we are working on and selling so that people can look at the renderings, floorplans, etc. so I'd like to integrate a website/blog together in some way. Vistaprint has the right idea, but just too many limitations on design, using business email address, etc.  

There are real estate website using Wordpress, and I may be able to use one of their templates, but would like something where I can drag and drop features, and not get stuck with stuff I don't need. 

@Karen Margrave  

A Wordpress is installed on a standard website and gives you a Content Management System (CMS), Blog support, mobile functionality, SEO management, themes (these allow you to easily change the look & feel of your website, without altering content), plugins that allow you to offer things like portals (imagine you have partners on specific projects, and you want to allow them to securely login and see the current progress, financials or other information on the projects they are involved with), search engine friendly permalinks, etc. on top of the standard features of the website.

Wordpress is free and offers so many benefits there's simply no downside to creating your website utilizing it, even if you don't use anything of the advanced features for years.

@Douglas Dowell  is correct.  Google's latest SEO algorithms enhance the value of current, meaningful content.  They are now giving weight to not only what is linked to your site or what you are linking to, but they are tracking how many times people go to your site and how long they spend there, which should directly tie to the value they find, once they are on your site.

You have to commit to blogging, but it shouldn't be an intimidating prospect.  In your business, you could simply post a weekly status of your current construction projects.  If you approach it from the standpoint of the life of a project and talk about lessons learned, roadblocks and speed bumps, you'll have a valuable blog! 

@Karen Margrave  Take a look at studiopress.com.  Search through their themes and find the one you like.  Everything is built on HTML 5 with some extra security benefits.  

If you go with Studiopress you'll be able to log in to your account and they have a list of recommended developers.  

I use Studiopress for all of my websites and it has to be one of the best themes out there.  Keep in mind it's built on WP but they go above and beyond what WP has to offer.  It's easy to use and fully supported.

@Hattie Dizmond  Thanks for the input, it gives me better insight. I know on Godaddy they let you choose from any of the Wordpress themes, but I'm not sure if it's possible to tweak the design, or it's just a set specific design (i think it is) which doesn't allow me to set up the site exactly how I want to, but need to work within the set design. 

 In my search, I have also come across this which would seem to make things easier to do. Drag and Drop Wordpress

Hi @Karen Margrave  

That is a great question! The word "website" is about as broad a placeholder as the word "real estate". It basically covers anything and everything that displays content for a user to interact with via a screen (and sometimes beyond that). When you are looking for solution to drive new business, establish credibility with prospects, share case studies and examples, and encourage the right people to contact you, there are a couple of approaches (in order of labor involved): 

The Landscape

1) Software as a service (example: wordpress.com, wix.com, squarespace.com ...)

These are companies that have pre-build and hosted solutions to make your life easy. They are all quite good and affordable. What they are not is extremely flexible.

2) Self hosted open-source solutions (WordPress, Joomla, Drupal...) 

These are free software platforms that communities have created to make managing websites user friendly. You can host your own version cheaply on a server like dreamhost, wp-engine or digital ocean. The advantage of doing it yourself as opposed to a saas (see #1) is that you can customize they to do a number of unique things the saas providers may not offer

3) Custom builds

Up until 10 years ago, all websites were custom. Today, I wouldn't advise it in your situation. Too costly, and overkill.


Choosing:

I would suggest the following approach: make a list of all the things your website needs to be able to do. For example:

* Custom domain (http://www.parlayinvestments.com)

* Gallery

* Contact us form

...

Then explore the SaaS solutions to see if they do everything you need. If that works, then go with the one you like best. If you find yourself limited, then go with self hosted. I wouldn't waste my time trying to figure out how to do it yourself, just hire a freelancer (elance, microslancer...)

WordPress

You asked some specific WordPress questions. WordPress is a free open source platform to allow people to make blogs & websites (wordpress.org). That is separate from the freemium service offered at wordpress.com. A WordPress site is composed of three elements: WordPress (core) + Theme (visual) + Plugins (additional functionality). The SaaS service organize the workflow of choosing for you. If you do self hosted, typically you will go to either the free repo (http://wordpress.org/themes/)  or to a commercial marketplace (http://themeforest.net/category/wordpress or https://creativemarket.com/themes/wordpress) and pick a visual layout you like. Then you will decide what functionality you need and choose the appropriate plugins. For example, if you needed an event calendar (http://wordpress.org/plugins/the-events-calendar/) or a newsletter (http://wordpress.org/plugins/wysija-newsletters/). WordPress is great for running a blog @Douglas Dowell  mentioned as well as a full scale website.

We have used WordPress to power some of the world's largest sites and communities for companies like Microsoft to Bon App

@Karen Margrave  I had never heard of Headway before, but I just checked them out.  Their features look really good, and the prices are reasonable.

However, you can change your theme and alter look & feel on GoDaddy any time you want.

I don't personally care who you use to host the site, but I love WordPress.  I'm a fan of the open software applications, just because they tend to be a lot more elegant than the commercial packages.  If you don't think so, just download Open Office!!!

Word press allows you to customize to your application. Parallax site themes is what many are using you now as you can scroll with tablets downward and with phones versus a static page and then click to go to another window or static page.

I get my stuff done through FIVERR website. You can get it done much cheaper than other sites. Now everything is five bucks but they charge a certain number of gigs based on what you want completed. It also takes awhile to find someone that can do a good job for you.

I prefer to not have too much info on my site. People then contact me and I can go over things in detail. It's a personal choice of if you want a simple clean look or a loaded site. Sometimes a loaded site can overwhelm a user and they do not know where to start.

It's kind of like having a letter for we buy houses  and you have a ton of info and then you have one with very little info on it. 

I'm by no means an expert, BUT I would recommend you taking a look at squarespace. I have had a website on squarespace for about a year and only began blogging a few weeks ago, and I like it. 

I think setup is professional and very visual, so it works well for showing off pictures or your portfolio ( i know alot of artsy/creative people use squarespace).

Its also easy (can get website going in 5 minutes) and affordable (2 week free trial, then $100/year)

Just my 2 cents

@Jerred Morris  That looks promising. I'm so totally in the dark on this stuff, but I knew posting on BP would get me up to speed the fastest! 

@Karen Margrave  If you need help with making a smart choice then I'd be more than happy to chat via phone.

What you are trying to do is not difficult.  You just need to build a knowledge base to get you comfortable with your decision/investment.

@Karen Margrave   Wordpress does have it's advantages, and blogs are useful at building ratings. If you want to look at easy to use tools for developing more traditional websites, one good one that I like is coffeecup software. Their Visual Site Designer is easy to use, inexpensive, and they have great support. 

One hard to spot element in their literature, is that it is designed for Linux. It will work under Windows, but ..... If you use godaddy they provide the needed support elements, just set up as a Linux server, not Windows.

@Jerred Morris  Thank you. I think I'll have my son get this figured out for me. He taught himself how to use a really complicated program that he does house designs and renderings with, he should be able to get me situated, but if not, I will be calling! Thank you for your generosity.

@Karen Margrave  I would encourage you to hire a professional company to design your website.  My opinion may be bias because I own a web design company, but you will waste time trying to figure things out on your own.  This time could be better used to generate more sales, etc. Also, there are  strategies, techniques, etc. that a reputable website design company knows and can incorporate into your website to improve performance.

Karen - See what kind of conflict you've created for yourself by asking that harmless little question!

Being of the obsessive-type personality, I tend to go deep on topics. Online business is no different. All my sites are based on Wordpress however they have lots of plug in features and customizing. I don't do any if my own plumbing, electrical or website design work. 

Here are a few questions to ask:

What the job of your website?

How will visitors find it?

Once they find it, what do you want the visitor to do?

Will it sell or educate?

Will it capture information provided by visitors?  

How do you collect and manage that information?

How much of your time per day/week/month are you willing to invest (blogging, etc.)?

Before you take a step forward, you may, as I have, take a couple of steps backwards. I re-wrote my strategy several years ago and determined I needed different websites for different sales funnels (channels) and each has a very different look and experience, based on the objectives that I wished to achieve. Since they are involve lead generation, I want to make certain that all visitors knew they were in the right place and I wasn't just another guy offering a me-too site. 

In addition, I don't care to speak to people who are not properly vetted so I've worked hard to build sites that requires visitors to become educated and self-selecting to avoid time waster.

So, there's potentially a lot to consider beyond design and theme layout. Suggest you prioritize your objectives, think through your processes (lead generation, etc.) and delegate to others what your budget permits. 

@Karen Margrave  

Sounds like you are looking for the same thing I was a few months back.  I am Broker but mostly just buy and sell my own rehab projects.  I wanted a site that could showcase my property for sale but also allow me to blog about each project. I also wanted it to have the potential to bring in leads.

Ultimately I went with a WordPress site hosted on Bluehost.com. I paid for a premium theme but it allowed me a lot more customization options, as well as the option to pull an IDX feed from my local MLS should I elect to pay the fees associated with that down the road.

Below is a link to my site.  its not 100% yet but its close.  I think it should give you a good idea of what can be accomplished with WordPress as far as an RE site goes.  I'm by no means a web developer but I won't lie and say that a WP site is drag and drop. I had some web development knowledge going in but I also learned a lot by trail and error.  On thing that is nice about WP is that its so widely used pretty much anything you want to do there is either a plug-in for a tutorial out there showing how to do it.

Hope this is helpful, and if none the less a example of what RE WordPress site can look like.

[REMOVED]

Updated almost 4 years ago

Didn't realize that you couldn't post links. If you would like to see the site PM me. I'm happy to share and answer any questions I can.

If you don't know anything about websites, why not hire someone who DOES know? What is our mantra here... leverage other people's time/money/knowledge.

Do you think your time is better spent doing other things?

Would you be asking this same question about a lawyer or accountant?

I'm not trying to be harsh, I'm trying to help. The fact that you asked "What's the difference between a 'website' and a 'wordpress site'?" tells me that this is going to be an enormous task for you.

@Will Porter  You are so right! If it were just me, I would hire someone or use a template in a hot second. However; I just wanted to try to get some information for myself so that I can have a better understanding of what exactly the differences are (gotta keep up with new technology to some degree) but, I have a 26 year old son that can learn any program, etc, and he will be doing the wordpress site for us. Thank you for your input! 

I spend a lot of time trying to explain websites versus WordPress blogs to people. There are some main differences that matter to your web success.

  • Blogs have feeds, websites do not have
  • Blogs have lots of content to index
  • Blogs have web pages too
  • Blog posts are easy to share
  • Blogs are easy to use and update
  • Blogs do not all have to look boring
  • People do not care what technology your website is built on

See more at http://www.keenesystems.com/Expertise/WordPress.aspx

The other problem explaining what WordPress is, is that it is a service (subdomain on the wordpress.com website) and a CMS that you can host yourself.  

Not to take away from Emma's list, most websites these days can be configured to include a blog, or be in a blog format themselves....so that list would also apply to websites in that respect.  

I have not used the WordPress CMS much, but I know that joomla (competing CMS system, free) has many property listing type add-ons that can quickly create a fully functional listing site in minutes that is easy to use, nice looking and pretty cost effective.

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