How to design a property website that attracts renters

Dec 28, 2022

Neha Marathe website designer

What makes a rental property website stand out from the crowd? Anyone trying to attract and convert renters online knows it’s a competitive market — one that’s only gotten hotter as property management businesses became increasingly tech savvy during the pandemic.

If you’re looking for a few property marketing website tips and tricks, Neha Marathe is the right person to talk to. In her role as creative manager at REACH by RentCafe, she’s helped multifamily businesses across the country transform their web presence by creating high-performance rental property sites that are visually appealing.

One secret to success is continually evolving your website to meet the shifting expectations of your customers. Right now, it’s particularly important to pay attention to Gen Z, a group that’s poised to be the largest generation of renters ever.

At the same time, you don’t want to alienate other prospects. Good rental property websites rely on updated designs with universal appeal. In this interview, Neha shares how to strike the right balance between trends and accessibility when choosing a website design for property management.

How is designing websites for Gen Z different than designing for other generations?

Neha: Designing websites for the next generation of customers is exciting. These renters have never known life without the internet, so they expect a great user experience.

There are five things I keep in mind when marketing to Gen Z: personalization, speed, mobility, authenticity and partnership.

  • Make it personal. While I am a millennial who still hesitates to share my location or give out any other information about myself, Gen Z’s are open to that. It does not mean that they are ready to compromise on their security, but they are more interested in a customized and personal experience.
  • Make it fast. Younger renters are continually active online and consider search part of their day-to-day life. If they are unable to find what they are looking for easily and quickly, they will move on to another website.
  • Think mobile first. If they can’t use their phones to find and interact with you, you may as well not exist.
  • Be real. Invite prospects to be a part of your community from the start using authentic visuals that feature real people and places.Make sure your Gen Z prospect feels the vibe of your communities. You need to present your property genuinely, market your resident’s lifestyle, include amenities with pictures and show actual units, not just stock photos.
  • Create a partnership. Gen Z wants to be a part of any experience not as a generic user but as a true partner. To elaborate on that, winning brands these days offer partnership opportunities, be it with a rewards program, influencer campaign or a simple ask for user feedback to improve their experience.

How can you make sure a website appeals to all generations?

Neha: The key is to not confuse the user. Keep the site simple, and keep it real. A good website is intuitive and should be usable for everyone. Make sure the menu is visible and not overly complicated, the call-to-actions are easily accessible and the message is clear. You want to ensure the user is not overwhelmed by too much information. 

Your rental property website should also be inclusive of all demographics. When writing content, selecting photos and sharing videos, make sure you represent different backgrounds including a range of age groups, educational levels, sexual orientations, genders, socio-economic classes and faiths among other things.

Remember that it is critically important to make sure the action items are easily accessible, not only to all generations but also to people with disabilities. All sectors of the industry are heavily focusing on ADA compliance. To provide a few examples for websites, that means keeping color contrast high as well as adding labels on form elements, alt tags on pictures, closed captions for videos and meaningful link text.

Have customer expectations for website user experienced changed over the last two years?

Neha: Yes, with every passing day as your users are evolving, they expect your website to evolve as well. Due to the recent pandemic, as of the last few years, our lifestyles have changed. I for one have started appreciating little things in life and making sure we don’t take anything for granted. And I think as web designers, we should be mindful of that.

Don’t ever take your user for granted, don’t complicate things and don’t provide them irrelevant information. Having a great website has become expected from users because this is your only opportunity to make a good first impression.

Prioritize updating your website content; it needs to be in line with today’s expectations to attract users fast. Once you have that hook in place, keep them on with consistency. Make them feel secure and respect their time. Set realistic expectations to avoid future disappointments.

What are three website design trends your team has seen lately?

Neha: Keeping the multifamily industry in mind:

  • Everything visual. Realistic representation of the property and floor plans using videos, virtual tours, drone videos, pictures, interactive property maps, etc.
  • Online scheduling. Easy and flexible scheduling to accommodate the needs of prospective residents. Property management businesses are requesting websites with multiple touring options like self-guided tours, live video tours and guided tours.
  • Brand-centric. Building an online presence that’s in sync with your brand has become more important today. Building a brand is much more than just designing a logo. It defines your company’s beliefs, culture and values. It tells a story about what sets you apart from the competition and shows that you are innovative and fluid with your marketing strategy. A newly branded (or rebranded) rental property website, when done right, establishes faith with your customers, employees and investors. At REACH, the branding process is something we take very seriously, and we’ve seen a spike in interest from our clients to partner with us on defining their brand vision. 

Thank you, Neha, for taking the time to chat with us! View examples of the work her team is creating for clients.

If you’re looking to create or rebrand a property website, take the time to read these apartment branding tips before you begin.

Geneva Ives

Geneva Ives is the manager of marketing content at Yardi. She leads content initiatives for REACH by RentCafe. Writing may be her first love, but data is a close second. Geneva is based in Santa Barbara, California.

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