Making a name in Realty

2M Realty provides services in the Houston real estate market and aims to simplify stress for buyers and sellers while continuing to provide excellent customer service.

Form

The 2M Realty website is very organised and is presented in serious colours of green and blue. A simple Flash slideshow of photos adds a bit of interest to the site, and icons and logos also add interest further down the page. The two column layout is a nice touch and a lot of information is presented professionally and neatly to the viewer. My main concern is with the logo – it’s a nice logo but not as memorable as it could be. The 2M Realty website will be remembered for its professionality, as well as being a useful tool, but if the brand is to be recalled, it might be recalled vaguely, as the name and the logo require more work for viewers to memorise it, especially if there’s some competition with an easier-to-remember name and a more exciting logo. The same could be said of the domain name – it’s easy enough to bookmark the site, but try typing in www.2mrealty.com and lots of people will end up mistyping it.

Since 2M Realty Advisors attract people who need the service, I doubt any custom will be lost from the unmemorable logo at the first step. However, when it comes to telling their friends “I bought my house through (can’t remember?)” there will be less repeat custom.

Rather than taking the drastic step of renaming or rebranding the business, maybe a new identity could be invented, purely for internet purposes? 2M Realty Advisors could become “Houston Realty” or something easy and catchy? A new domain name could always be purchased, and the old domain name could continue to forward to the website. Just add “(old name) trading as (new name)” at the bottom of the site.

Buyers can find their way around the site easily, and the “Search” box on the top right of the main page is in the right place for quick reference. Navigation is straightforward and all links appear to work.

A very small error involves a full stop in the top phone number, instead of the hyphen used down the bottom. It’s not a big deal – with so much information to organise, some inconsistencies can be expected and corrected over time.

Function

The website communicates its purpose excellently and is a useful tool for viewers. Pages load reasonably well and the coding is CMS related and designed by a development team specialising in real estate websites.

I like to also congratulate the team for building an iphone application for internet users to access their database using their iphones – http://www.2mrealty.com/iphone.php. This will definitely give 2mrealty a winning edge over their competitors.

The drop down display for Search Area Homes

fig 1. The drop down display for “Search Area Homes”

An unusual function is contained within the top boxes where there is an arrow for “Search Area Homes”. Click on the box and the page moves down to display the information. I really liked the “Contact Us” display, but the “Search Area Homes” confused me as the display was a little long and didn’t fit in with the overall theme of the website.

Professional organisation at the bottom of the page

fig 2. Professional organisation at the bottom of the page

Would you remember this logo, letter for letter?

fig 3. Would you remember this logo, letter for letter?

Conclusion

Overall, 2M Realty is well done, professionally presented and a useful website. However, the marketing of the brand name might need some work to get people to remember the company better. Word of mouth advertising cannot be underestimated (and it’s free!) The excellent organisation of the site is a good reflection on the company and will beat any competitors who are unorganised. Well done!

Books Are Fun: A Novel Approach

Books Are Fun is a company devoted to presenting a wide range of books for sale to educational institutes and schools, government bodies and other companies. Based in Boulder, Colorado, the business has seen the return of the original owners who are passionate about the products they sell.

Form

The design of the Books Are Fun logo is very memorable and well coloured. This looks great on the website, as does the slideshow of books available. I particularly liked the white space at the top of the page which emphasises the logo.

Make these logos smaller.

fig 1. It is a good idea to make these logos smaller.

The three column layout of the website, while functional enough, has too much text in it and could turn off potential viewers. Talking about your business with a mission statement on the first page does not grab readers – what is needed is a summarised, brief version of who you are and what you do. Then the action you want people to take. Maybe the main page info could be summarised and put in point form? To fill in the page, you can talk about what you do for the customer, instead of what the business is about.

While there are a few logos and photos in the columns pertaining to advertising for the company, I’d like to see all logos made much smaller (secondary and summarised information) and events made more interesting and prominent (eg. The Corporate Book Fairs summarised graphically and presented in an attractive ad, which then links to the page of info). Put the Book Fairs info in point form, make it an ad without so much text and present it graphically and you’ll attract people much easier! Put it at the top of the column and put the Mission Statement in “About Us”, where it belongs.

The font size is adequate – but I’m not sure if the demographics of the audience might include older people who would require a larger font size. The font size does vary within the website and this isn’t very comforting when you want people to trust you for purchases.

Navigation is fine and all links appear to work OK. Some gateway pages might be needed, such as a choice of buttons on the FAQ pages to make sure people don’t have to look at (and be scared by) huge amounts of text which does not pertain to them. The simpler the information is presented, the more you’ll find people will read it.

It might be a good idea to group blogs together in one “ad” on the right column, and just have a link to “Blogs” in the navigation…especially if you might add more in the future. In the “Blogs” page, a summary of each blog (with a thumbnail) might be a nice touch.

Function

Too much text is scary for the reader!

fig 2. Too much text is scary for the reader!

The website indicates through the logo that it is educational, and the slideshow of books indicates items are for sale. If extra attention is paid to removing scary amounts of text and replacing it with much easier to read information then more customers might be interested. Obviously “Books Are Fun” is an important company with a huge customer base, but in order to harness more internet customers, the website does need some work.

The loading time is quite good, although the Flash slideshow of books takes a little longer to load. Maybe inserting a loading progress bar might help to let the viewer know there is more info arriving?

A page summarising blogs might come in handy later

fig 3. A page summarising blogs might come in handy later.

Coding is the usual CMS with CSS, Javascript, html and added Flash etc. Blogs are in Blogger. Looks like the CMS was created by a development team.

Conclusion

Books Are Fun is a company in great shape and with a lot to offer their customers. I’m sure off the internet they are fantastic, but on the internet some improvements made to their website will attract more custom. I’d recommend simplifying the information on the main pages (add spinoff links for more info) and look at what information should be prominent and what should be less important to customers. Internet viewers are impatient and like quick loading and graphically interesting sites which look simple and are easy to read. Try to create the main page as one big ad, containing all relevant and simple information. Best of luck!