…the following is a post from guest blogger Anna Visioli who is the director of business to consumer development for Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC.

cbhomepage 300x218 Simply Real Estate Search

Last summer, hot on the heels of the Home Buyer Tax Refund frenzy, Coldwell Banker launched a new website.  In posts on this very blog and communications elsewhere, we touted all of the great new features. A visual search! Embedded listing and agent videos! Social links galore! And then we continued to add shiny new features, like an affordability radar! A lifestyle search! But as groundbreaking as these features are (and we certainly encourage you to check them out) the most remarkable feature of the new website isn’t the stuff; it’s the lack of stuff. Or rather, it is the simplicity of our home page.

Let’s face it, when it comes to our websites, real estate marketers are analogous to the folks profiled on A&E’s Hoarders. We just can’t seem to part with our stuff. And we want to show you all our stuff right on the home page. Interested in a home? Rental? Mortgage? App? Contest? Cheesecake recipe? We’ve got that. We’ve got ALL of that.

Unfortunately, this attempt to be all things to all people sends many web users into information overload, and so argues Jeffrey Rosenblum in today’s Marketing Daily piece, The Move that Will Make or Break Your Brand. We need only look at the home pages of some the best marketed companies in the last decade—that would be Google and Apple—to see the success of a pared-down homepage in action. While both brands offer an arsenal of products, neither feels the need to get in your face about it, instead opting to promote products and features on subpages.  The freed-up homepage is able to focus on clearly defining their core product offering.

For us, property search is king, and accordingly, we’ve dedicated the majority of our home page real estate to real estate search. But the road towards simplicity has been anything but simple. While many have applauded, praised and emulated the site, others continue to mourn the loss of features they’ve come to expect (yes, state drop-down boxes, you are missed, but gone forever).

On coldwellbanker.com, we continue to maintain some promotional banners on our homepage, and those ubiquitous ‘features’ checkboxes are still there, though hidden under the “more options” window. However, we believe that over time, consumers will grow tired of all the distractions and flock to the real estate websites that make search clear and easy. Our simplified search has already resulted in some of the lowest home page bounce rates* in the history of coldwellbanker.com. So you can expect the streamlining to continue, just don’t expect that cheesecake recipe on coldwellbanker.com anytime soon.

*bounce rate is defined as the percentage of web visitors that land on a page and click away in sheer terror