Fourth Annual Outstanding REALTOR® Association Web Site Contest Winners
Today's best sites dazzle the senses and deliver the goods.
This year's best association Web sites came alive with brilliant photographs and interactive menus. There was a clear trend toward incorporating moving pictures and animation in a subtle and inviting way.
Although we could choose only six winners from the nearly 90 contest entries we received, there were dozens of others that impressed the 16 AE judges (plus four NAR staff judges).
Overall, the judges applauded sites for "attractive photos" and "tasteful design," and for being "dynamic," "exciting," and "pleasing to the eye."
It's the selected winners, though, that prove fantastic design concepts don't need to come at the expense of stand-out content. The designs on these sites reinforce the associations' missions and enhance the online experience for consumers and members by providing valuable information and resources.
We selected winners from two categories:
1) sites that primarily serve members, and 2) sites that serve both members and consumers.
Judges evaluated many factors, including organization, content, aesthetics, and ease of use. These sites represent the best of the Web. In addition to being featured here, winners receive a certificate and a winner's logo to place on their site.
BEST MEMBER/CONSUMER SITES
(Sites aimed at both members and homebuyers)
Three winners (in alphabetical order) in the members/consumer site category.
Illinois Association of REALTORS®
"Everything is there and easily accessible. The information promised under the links deliver. The site offers consumers some great information about buying and selling, financing, and investment issues. Great aesthetics; easy to look at. The 'Careers in Real Estate' section is great." n A state association has a big job to accomplish on its Web site. Illinois gets the job done by providing a wealth of information for members and consumers; from events and classes around the state to searchable market statistics and a media-friendly "newsroom."
"Our goal is to get information posted even before we get a request for the information," says Christy Broccardo-Davis, the association's Web master.
Sussex County Association of REALTORS®, N.J.
"The strong emphasis on community, both within the association and the greater county, makes this site very comfortable. Extra points for clean design and showing restraint."
Take one glance at the home page and you know exactly where to find what you're looking for; whether you're a member or a consumer. Descriptions are brief and to the point, and each page is accented by colorful photographs of the area. Association Executive Alberta M. Pierce says members flock to the "Education & Events" section, while consumers come for the "Find a Realtor¨" and "About Sussex County" links.
The site has been active for about a year, and the 716-member association is already planning enhancements, such as adding member applications, credit card payment processing, and an array of forms that can be filled out and submitted online.
Steamboat Springs Board of REALTORS®, Colo.
"The site boasts a very crisp, clear design bolstered by well-labeled navigation. The ease of use and highly informative nature of this site should be a big draw for both members and consumers. Excellent use of images and links. Attractive and professional without falling into the trap of loading up on too many bells and whistles."
For an association with fewer than 350 members, this 4-year-old Web site is impressive for its amount of content, great organization, and use of colorful images that show off Steamboat Springs in every season.
Jody Scott, association executive, says the property search tools and the member rosters are the most popular site features.
BEST MEMBER SITES
(sites aimed at serving primarily members only)
Three winners (in alphabetical order) in the members’ only site category.
Iowa Association of REALTORS®
"This site has all the essentials! Members would find this site extremely useful. Content is well-organized, and links go to where they say."
Organization is the key to this site, which delivers seemingly endless resources for members; from mobile MLS data access to dozens of Spanish-language real estate forms. The education page is especially thorough, providing online courses, instructor bios, and lots of pre-licensing information.
Not surprisingly, the forms and education sections are the most popular with members, says Paul McLaughlin, staff counsel. He says the site works because it's "jam-packed with easily understood information" and doesn't distract users with pop-ups.
Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS®
"This site is loaded with comprehensive information that goes beyond expectations. Use of logos and photos makes for attractive pages. Inside pages mirror the site's look and feel, and links are used generously throughout; something savvy Web users expect. The government affairs area is outstanding!" n Politics takes center stage on the home page, where a can't-miss "take action" button encourages members to send messages to public officials.
"We take issues from every aspect of a member's life, such as business, legislative, and legal, and put it into concise and readable information they can use daily," says Marty Manion, the association's director of information technology.
Worcester Regional Association of REALTORS®, Mass.
"They do a good job of capturing the areas of interest to their members. Links are clearly labeled and well-organized. Very well-built site. Content and navigation well-coordinated. Clear and not cluttered with advertising, as seen on other sites."
Don't underestimate this subdued site, which favors a light color palette and peaceful photos as a backdrop for its powerful membership tools. The association's roughly 1,500 members can go online to pay dues; access an updated, interactive 12-month events calendar; contribute to RPAC; and download documents.
Association Executive James M. Wetzel says the database-driven Web site allows staff to make daily additions, including updating the calendar, posting news articles, and promoting events.
(These sites that had excpetionally good special features.)
The Massachusetts Association's clean, uncluttered site uses clearly labeled buttons in the upper right corner to direct members and consumers to the tools they need.
The San Antonio Board, Texas, deserves recognition for the unique use of graphics on its home page. Visitors watch as a home is built from the ground up in a matter of seconds.
The Virginia Association expertly employs moving photos to feature a beach scene, mountains, and a sunny front yard that makes you want to pick up and move to the state.
Next year's contest opens December 2005. Staytuned to REALTOR.org for details.
Visit Last Year's Winners
Visit the Field Guide to Redesigning Association Web Sites