Studio Quality Websites Built by Marketing Professionals

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RhiannonSmallHi, I’m Rhiannon…. I’ve been involved in the creation of countless apartment & property management websites and I thought it would be helpful to offer a good, solid list of questions you should be asking when you are searching for a team to build your new website.

These questions will help you: Save time, save money & get the perfect website!

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Everyone wants a good looking website.

But, you need more than just a shiny website. Your website should be your #1 source of leads, your communication hub and the center for all your marketing. Let’s dive into the questions you need to be asking…

#1 – What’s the price?

The #1 question we get asked most here at Resident360 is how much does a new website cost. There are a number of factors that influence the price such as:

  • Is it a property management website that features multiple properties?
  • Is it a standalone apartment website? or multiple apartment websites?
  • Is it a large corporate website that focuses on branding, investors & careers?

With that said, most apartment websites range from  $99-$299 monthly. Property management and corporate websites typically start around $7,900 and go up from there based on pages, features and overall goal.

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What I like about this site – Strong design, modern colors, online pay rent, residents corner and real time check availability. Website by Resident360.

#2 – What’s your process for delivering a new website?

This is usually the question most people forget to ask.  You don’t want to be left with a massive headache and 4 month timeline for getting a new website, but it does happen if you choose the wrong website vendor.

To give you an idea at Resident360, we created what we call the “Perfect Website Process.” This process ensures customers get a gorgeous website fast, usually in 4 weeks or less.  Headache free.

You know exactly what’s expected of you and what you’ll be receiving. If you’re interested,  you can download the PDF of our process here.

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#3 – How are your websites different from everyone else?

This is a great question that will help you decide who to work with if you’re looking at several website providers and you’re not sure how to set them apart.

Keep in mind, it’s not about having 100 different features at a cheap price.

It’s about having a great looking site designed specifically around your needs that generates leads without hassle to you.

For example, at Resident360, the three biggest things I hear from customers is your websites look far better than everyone else, the support is great and your Resident Mobile App is awesome.

cleveland_ss

This website created by Resident360 focuses on sleek design aimed at a younger, hipper demographic. Key features are intelligent property search, SEO & residents corner.

#4 – Are your websites part of a larger platform?

A lot of website providers have platforms that include other features you can add to  your website.

For example, at Resident360 we have the 360 Platform that includes the website, resident mobile app, leasing & resident portals.  Going with a website provider that has a platform can help you streamline the number of  vendors you need to work with to get the best online marketing footprint.

It can also make it a lot easier to manage everything because you have one company providing more services for you.

#5 – Who is responsible for providing community photos?

When it comes to an apartment website, a picture is worth more than a thousand words. It’s worth a thousand leads and leases. Make sure to ask your website provider if they will provide a photographer to take new photos of your property.

Its very, very hard to create a good looking website with low-quality photos.

Most times having new photos taken will be an added cost, but even if it is, I suggest letting your website provider handle it because it can be a big hassle to hire and manage the photographer to ensure you get the high quality photos you need.

The website provider will know exactly what shots to get, taking the guesswork away from you. And it takes you out of the equation as the middle man having to coordinate the right files sizes and file access to get the photos to the web developer.

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High-end photography makes this site look beautiful. Resident360 created the website and took care of the photography so the property didn’t have to.

#6 – Are your apartment website designs responsive (RWD)?

Every website provider needs to be using Responsive Web Design.  RWD means you have one website that automatically resizes and adjusts to fit what ever device that person is on – desktop, tablet or smart phone.  This way you never lose a prospect due to the device they are on.

In my personal opinion, there is no longer any reason to bother designing a website that is not responsive. Maybe a year or two ago it might have been worth a debate to make sure the extra expense is worth it, but now the debate it over. It’s RWD or don’t bother.

Yes, it costs more money to design websites this way. Yes, it takes longer and it’s more complicated. But, you’re losing leads if you don’t offer a quality experience on every device. You don’t know what new device will become hot in the next year. It’s cheaper in the long run to invest in a website that is prepared to handle any screen size.

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Canalside Lofts website created by Resident360 gives you a good idea of what one website looks like across multiple devices. Great high end photography.

#7 – Are your websites SEO friendly and what does that include?

There are so many grey areas with “SEO friendly” websites and SEO strategies are always shifting and changing to adjust to the newest Google algorithm update.  With that said, I want to make sure you’re educated so you know exactly what you’re looking for.

An SEO friendly website or Search Engine Optimized Website is setup & coded properly so that it gives itself the best chance at ranking in the search engines like Google, Yahoo & Bing.  Every website provider has their own definition of what a SEO friendly website should include, but let me tell you the most important parts:

  • Properly written title tags, meta descriptions & H1 tags
  • Properly written home page content
  • Speed: fast loading website
  • Good linking structure

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#8 – Who is responsible for maintaining the website? Can I update it?

This can also be somewhat of a grey area and “maintain” can mean many different things.  In most cases, your website provider will be the one doing the real maintenance.  That means if you ever have any security issues like hacking or spamming, your website provider will handle resolving this.  If you need basic changes your website provider will handle this.

But, on the other hand, you will definitely want access to easily change things like rents and specials and your on-site staff should be responsible for keeping that sort of content “maintained.”

For example at Resident360, we have “done for you” models where we handle updating the website for you. Customers can also access a Manager Corner where they can update the website themselves if they choose to. This includes using marketing tools like resident referrals, updating rents/specials, office hours and news.

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I’m a big fan of the colors on the 925 Common apartment website by Resident360. Great call to actions, apply online functionality and a classic design.

#9 – Do your apartment websites offer a Resident Portal?

“Resident portal” is a common term in the apartment industry, but everyone seems to mean something different by it. It can be extremely important, especially when done well.

For example, at Resident360 our “Resident Portal” is called a “Resident Corner” and it includes a resident blog where you can post local news and events.  We also have a maintenance request form, pay rent link, resident FAQ page and Pet’s Corner page with “Pet of the Month” section.

This is valuable because prospects get a first hand look at life at the community through the resident blog and residents know the site is a resource for what they need: paying rent, submitting maintenance requests and getting information about events in the community. Ask your website provider if they provide a resident portal and get a clear explanation of what that includes.

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This is an example of the Resident News blog which is great for prospects and residents. Managers can update this from a password protected back end. Website by Resident360.

#10 – Who is hosting my website and what about backups?

This is also a very important question, even if it’s on the technical, behind-the-scenes side of things.  You’ll want to make sure your website is on a dedicated server with daily offsite backups and 24/7 monitoring.  This will give you peace of mind that your website will be up and running 99.9% of the time. Make sure to ask this question. You always want to know where your backups are if there is ever an emergency.

Conclusion & Next Steps

I hope you found this list valuable. If you’re in the process of searching for a new website provider, please take 2 seconds and email me right now.

I’ll give you a great quote and send you a free paperback copy of our #1 Amazon Best Selling book, The Definitive Guide to Apartment Marketing.

Click here to email me  or call 855-360-9327.

To your success,

RhiannonSmall Rhiannon Groff
Client Success Manager
Resident360
rhiannon@resident360.com
855-360-9328