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The constant and rapid evolution of technology, ideas and designs have seen real estate websites come a long way since Prop Data launched its first website back in 1999. Therefore, as 2016 draws to an end and the New Year fast approaches, we decided to take a look into the future and identify the 7 most pronounced web design trends we anticipate for the real estate industry in 2017.
With over 16.1 million smartphone users in South Africa and more than 2 billion users globally – we have clearly moved into a mobile age. Even though mobi sites or responsive websites are not new to the industry, mobile traffic grew exponentially in 2016 and will continue to do so in 2017. Between 50 – 60% of all real estate website visits are now from mobile devices, which means that brands need to be even more mobile focused than ever before and change the way they present their content and visuals to their visitors on small mobile devices. To succeed, real estate brands need to re-think how a visitor moves through a website and consumes information on their smartphone and then create a truly mobile property search experience.
Traditionally, brands and designers have opted for safer more subdued colours, however 2016 witnessed a new trend emerge, whereby brands began experimenting with super-rich colours online, defined by vibrant hues, over-saturation and duo-tone colours. This transition into adopting bolder colour was partly assisted by technological improvements in monitors and devices with screens that produce richer colours. As brands become more courageous in the colours they use, 2017 will see an increased number of real estate companies incorporating bold and duo-tone colours in their branding as a conscious effort to try new things and move away from “safe” practices.
Typography is a strong visual medium that can be used to give a brand a personality, evoke emotion and set a tone. As device resolutions become sharper and type becomes easier to read on-screen, brands will be looking to push the limits of typography even further to appeal to their website visitors. Expect to see an increase in the use of big, bold and beautiful type, working in tandem with parallax, on real estate websites in 2017.
Websites are a very visual media, therefore the imagery a brand employs to project their corporate image and communicate their marketing messages is vital. Traditionally, images have been purchased from stock libraries as they offer professional photographs and illustrations at a very affordable price. However, in a hyper-competitive real estate industry it is becoming more and more difficult to make your brand stand-out against your competitors as everyone has access to the same generic images. Clients value authenticity and are more attracted to brands that are original and relatable. Therefore, we predict a move to replace stock imagery with more authentic imagery, including original photography and illustrations.
With the introduction of fibre and an overall improvement in internet speeds, along with improvements in browsing technology – we expect these factors to galvanise the widespread use of HD videos in 2017. Videos provide website visitors with a superior multimedia user-experience that incorporates moving images and sound to captivate your audience and grab their attention. They create a virtual property viewing experience and are an excellent marketing tool to showcase a property, profile a neighbourhood or promote your company and / or its agents. Whilst video is already in use, we anticipate a far higher usage and more widespread implementation of this digital marketing tool in 2017.
Animation can also help capture a visitor’s attention through the use of moving images, icons and text to tell a story. Animations can come in all different shapes and sizes and be used for different purposes - from tiny load icons to entertain the visitor whilst waiting for content to load to interesting hover effects when the user hovers over an image or icon. They serve to make a website look technologically advanced, creative and captivating, whilst improving the user’s experience. With the growing development and use of HTML5, CSS and JQuery to accommodate various types of animations, we predict that 2017 will be the year that animation takes hold in the real estate industry.
Scrolling is no longer simply about getting from the top to the bottom of a web page - instead it has evolved to deliver content online on different screens of all sizes and resolutions. This advancement has resulted in better website functionality. If implemented correctly, scrolling can work with a variety of content types including videos and static content. Alongside this, the scrolling 3D tool known as Parallax provides great visuals as it provides a sense of depth by lifting elements off the screen and creating a sense of dynamism. With original content generation growing at phenomenal rates, a greater focus will be placed on finding innovative ways to deliver that content to users. This will result in the clever and widespread use of scroll and parallax effects come 2017 as real estate brands and designers experiment with these tools to complement their own content.
Due to significant technological advancements and a shift in the way real estate companies approach their branding, web design trends for 2017 are expected to be innovative, dynamic and unapologetically authentic.