Editor’s Note: This is the first in a five-part series.
Imagine a comprehensive real estate website that serves as a community resource on- and offline. What would my future home page look like?
Google’s homepage design mirrors Marcel Duchamp’s 3 Standard Stoppages (1912) – a question in a box. This work of art asks whether a standard unit of measure (a meter) is absolute or arbitrary. In English, “stoppage” means a halt. In Google-speak, “stoppage” might as well mean “search.” Both Google and 3 Standard Stoppagesare conceptual games of chance (e.g. “I’m Feeling Lucky”). Their goal is to challenge established principles blindly accepted as ultimate truth.
Consider this Wall Street Journal headline: “You’re a nobody unless your name Googles well.”
When it comes to real estate website design, it’s all about “woo” (winning other people over) not “whoa” (a command to stand still). Winning people over means fulfilling a fundamental need. “Whoa” is essentially smoke and mirrors.
Keeping with this logic, all the widgets, gadgets and flash slideshows might give a visitor more to look at, but won’t garner repeat visits.
When in doubt, “Keep it simple, stupid!” Creating a user-friendly experience requires stripping away all excess to reveal the essential. If a blog is a conversation-starter, the first line should be, “Hi, how are YOU?” Not “look at me!”
Along these lines, five must-haves for a real estate website are: who, what, when, where and why. The principle underlying the 5Ws is that each question should elicit a factual answer. How you answer these questions invites a Duchampian sense of humor.