Watch out for these 5 website trends in 2018



Clicking and waiting for pages to reload is so 2015
Key Takeaways

  • When upgrading your website in 2018, think mobile, heavily consider user experience, and keep it simple and safe for visitors.

Future-Proof: Navigate Threats, Seize Opportunities at ICNY 2018 | Jan 22-26 at the Marriott Marquis, Times Square, New York

There’s no crystal ball here (if you know where to find one, I’m all ears). But I’ve paid close attention to web design and functionality trends this year.

Although not all web trends originated or are heavily used in real estate, there are definitely some that I recommend you take into account when sprucing up your website in 2018.

Mobile-responsive design

It shouldn’t be news to anyone that the number of people searching the web on their mobile phone continues to grow.

According to Statista, in 2009 only 0.7 percent of all web pages served were on mobile; fast forward to 2017, and that number is up to 50.3 percent. That’s compared to 35.1 percent in 2015, and 43.6 percent last year.

Folks, this trend clearly isn’t going anywhere.

Mobile is such a dominant force that Google is unleashing mobile-first indexing, a process that it announced in 2016 and is just now getting ready to release.

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What that means is Google will index the mobile version of a site first and use that to serve organic results both on desktop and on mobile.

Essentially, it means having a mobile-responsive website is a must. Forget the days of mobile sites, those are old news. Skip right to the responsive version, which is better for SEO and provides a better user experience.

Be sure that the responsive or mobile version of your site is fully functional.

Think outside the grid

It is definitely time to think outside the grid. In the past, we used a grid for everything! Designers loved snapping everything to it, but those days are gone. The grid was depended on for easy navigation, but the way we use the web has changed.

Although this might be harder to get around if using WordPress or other content management systems, new tools are being introduced to help overcome this shortcoming.

In 2018, we’ll encourage agents to break free from the constraints and design with a greater focus on neutral space and content that flows. This modern design will help users navigate your site and focus on the content that is important.

The best part about breaking the grid is the effect it has on the time spent on a site. A site with more whitespace allows users to easily find information and enhances their ability to read it.

Thus, buyers and sellers will actually want to spend more time on your site and less time on clunkier more dated sites.

Here’s a stellar example of a website that skirts the old-fashioned grid system.

Reduce steps, and keep it simple

With every passing hour, it seems people are becoming more and more accustomed to simple engagement online.

One-stop actions rule all — think liking a photo, swiping left or posting an emotion to a text message. These are quick and effective ways to interact with users on the web.

What is the end result? People are naturally shifting toward a shorter process to interact with any website or online tool.

You can implement this principle on your site, by limiting the information or the process for a form submission on your site. If you can keep visitors on the same page, even better.

The goal is to try not to interrupt the flow. Make sure any interactions that users make with your site are simple — particularly when it comes to exploring properties and contacting you. If something is too difficult, your users will abandon ship.

Make it easy, and keep the process to the smallest steps.

If you haven’t already caught on, users want simple. They don’t want overly convoluted messaging, they don’t want to take needless steps, and they certainly don’t want to click over and over again to get to the information they need. That is where parallax and scroll animations come in.

Make the experience of navigating your website fun and easy. Clicking and waiting for pages to reload is so 2015. Don’t get caught with a website that frustrates users.

Instead, make micro-interactions to help improve the user experience, reduce the number of form submissions and other actions that require several clicks.

Talking tech

It isn’t surprising that chatbots and artificial intelligence (AI) are going to play a significant role in the near future. Communicating with bots on your site is going to be expected by visitors.

In fact, AI will be able to have full-on conversations with your visitors that help you capture the lead. For example, bots will be able to scan information and respond to basic questions about a home and even preliminarily schedule home showings.

Chatbots that nurture leads are going to be a game changer not only for agents, but also for visitors.

Visitors will enjoy seamless interactions, and with increasing technology, it will be easier for bots to understand them. This is technology that should definitely be incorporated into your web plans if you want to remain competitive.

Make guests feel safe

Security continues to be at the forefront of our minds and with good reason. It appears that we read on an almost daily basis of sites getting hacked and data falling in to the wrong hands.

Due to amplified concerns over security breaches, clients are less inclined to provide personal information over the web.

Don’t prevent leads from submitting their information simply because they don’t feel safe. Alert guests to the safety measures you are taking and what they can expect when they provide their information.

Google has taken serious measures to ensure that visitors aren’t at risk when surfing the web.

Make sure certificates are up to date, not only to ensure that visitors are interacting with your website, but also to guarantee that Google won’t blacklist you and prevent you from showing up in searches.

Clearly, this list doesn’t cover everything that’s to come for real estate websites in 2018, but these are my top five most important considerations for giving customers the experience they deserve when navigating your site.

Other tips to keep in mind:

  • Replace PNGS for SVGS
  • Use scroll-triggered animations
  • Incorporate big and bright typography
  • Use flat design
  • Start implementing video-mapping, virtual reality and more

If you are looking to create a new website in 2018, do your homework, and make sure that your investment isn’t going to be outdated any sooner than three years from now.

Future-proofing your website is critical, and this is a great time to do so. Real estate doesn’t have to be boring, so long as you keep your customers happily surfing your site.

Laura Ure is the CEO of Keenability, a marketing agency specializing in lifestyle marketing that targets the affluent buyer. Follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Compass nabs $450 million



Compass nabs $450 million in largest real estate tech investment in U.S. history

Japanese firm SoftBank is betting big on the white hot real estate tech company

Future-Proof: Navigate Threats, Seize Opportunities at ICNY 2018 | Jan 22-26 at the Marriott Marquis, Times Square, New York

Humongous breaking news this morning for Compass, the white-hot real estate tech company: it just received a $450 million investment from SoftBank Vision Fund, the collaborative tech investment vehicle started by Japanese company Softbank and a host of big international players.

The $450 million investment in Compass marks the largest private real estate tech investment in U.S. history, according to Compass, and follows on the heels of a $100 million investment from other funders last month, which valued the company at $1.8 billion.

Collectively, Compass has raised $775 million in capital, money that will assist in its bid to expand across 10 new metropolitan markets within the next two years.

The are eye-popping figures for a company that launched in New York in 2013 (under the name “Urban Compass”) and was initially focused on rental units in the city only, but has since expanded to a sales focus and into over 10 markets nationwide. Compass Chief Revenue Officer Robert Lehman told Inman in a phone interview that the company would potentially acquire small brokerages to bring in new talent, similar to Compass’s recent expansion to Chicago, where it hired 20 agents from the area away from established franchises Coldwell Banker and Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices.

In an announcement last month, Compass CEO Robert Reffkin told brokers and other employees that the New York-based company aimed to grab 20 percent of the market share in the 20 largest U.S. cities by 2020 (a plan known internally as “2020 By 2020”), and would be developing its own Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software platform and high-tech, solar powered “For Sale” signage.

This morning on CNBC’s Squawk Box, Reffkin announced Compass’s expansion to San Diego and compared the company to Amazon and Tesla:

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Compass touts itself as “the first modern real estate platform, which reduces the friction and frustration associated with selling, buying, or renting a property by providing real estate agents with a set of powerful tools to increase efficiency and sales volume.” But industry sources say that the company’s success has lots to do with its image, culture, and marketing, which position the company as a young, vibrant, Google-like startup, in a sector filled with many longstanding and slower-moving giants.

“Real estate is a huge asset class, but the sector has been relatively untouched by technology and remains inefficient and fragmented,” said Justin Wilson, a senior investment professional at the SoftBank Vision Fund, in a prepared statement released Thursday. “Compass is building a differentiated, end-to-end platform that aggregates across diverse data streams to support agents and homebuyers through the entire process, well beyond the initial home search. With disruptive technology and unique data advantages, Compass is well-positioned for future growth in a sector that represents trillions in transaction volume.”


Here’s Sen. Corker’s advice for businesses that want to be heard in Washington


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With the arrival of President Donald Trump’s administration, the nation’s political pendulum has swung, and for Tennessee businesses, that means navigating the nation’s capital could be a bit different.

Accordingly, I asked U.S. Senator Bob Corker what advice he had for businesses looking to make their voices heard more loudly in Washington, D.C. Here’s what he said:

We’ve got the [National Federation of Independent Business] and Business Roundtable for the big businesses. They’re pretty well represented, and they’re up seeing us constantly. When I was in business, I was a member of the Associated General Contractors, so I would just say be a participant in the organization that represents you and make sure that it’s vibrant. That’s the best way you can make sure people understand what’s happening, but look, I see so many Tennesseans and people know I have a business background, so I hear from people at the grocery store, dry cleaners and restaurants, so I feel like I’ve got plenty of input.

The senator was in Nashville Monday to give a wide-ranging presentation to employees and clients of the city’s largest homegrown lender, Pinnacle Financial Partners. During his 45-minute presentation, Corker covered everything from his time being vetted to potentially become Trump’s secretary of state to what he knows of the president’s highly-anticipated corporate tax reform policy, which is slated to be unveiled Wednesday. (Spoiler: He knows nothing, but is having a one-on-one dinner with the president on Tuesday.)

Overall, Corker said the most common concerns he hears from Tennessee business leaders can be boiled down to one thing: regulation.

“[Business owners] feel like it’s been very burdensome, and whether it’s in the financial industry with Dodd-Frank or just the standard things that businesses deal with on a daily basis, I do think we’re going to go through a period of deregulation that’s going to be good for our economy, and I think that’s exciting to most businesses,” he said in an interview with the Nashville Business Journal.

And as far as keeping Tennessee competitive on a national level, Corker pointed to the state’s low tax rate as well as Gov. Haslam’s recently passed Tennessee Reconnect, which provides two years of community college or a college of applied technology free of tuition and fees for adults — essentially an expansion of 2014’s Tennessee Promise, which offered the same benefits to graduating high school students.

“Many [businesses] have difficulties finding the appropriately trained person for the appropriate job. That’s a difficult thing, and our state is taking a lot of steps to overcome that with some of the educational programs we’re doing here. … Those things all bode well for our recruiting,” he said.

Meg Garner covers banking, government and law.

2017 Largest Nashville Residential Firms


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What are the largest residential real estate firms in Nashville?

We ranked Nashville’s residential real estate firms by number of company sides on a transaction in 2016. To view the top five and see which one tops the list, check out the slideshow with this story.

For the rest of Nashville’s top residential real estate firms, take a look at this week’s print edition of the Nashville Business Journal. The full list is available in print and includes information about 2016 gross sales, average sales price, number of agents and offices and top local executive.

An interactive and expanded digital version of The List is on our website here, and includes extra content, including the year founded.

For a piece of our residential real estate package that accompanied The List in print, check out the infographic at the bottom of the article.

Want more research like this? Check out the Book of Lists in print or in data download.

Information was obtained from firm representatives. Information on The List was supplied by individual companies through questionnaires and could not be independently verified by the Nashville Business Journal. Only those that responded to our inquiries were listed. In case of ties, companies are listed alphabetically. The Nashville area is defined as: Cheatham, Davidson, Dickson, Montgomery, Robertson, Rutherford, Sumner, Williamson and Wilson counties.

Germantown Nashville New Restaurants


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Near the corner of Jefferson Street and Fourth Avenue North, amid Nashville’s booming Germantown and just a block from First Tennessee Park, sit two soon-to-open restaurants whose journey underscores the occasionally herculean effort required to bring restaurants from concept to reality in Music City’s white-hot food scene.

They are Lulu and Geist, the latest restaurants from Miranda Whitcomb Pontes, a restaurateur who made her name founding Frothy Monkey and Burger Up, among other Nashville hotspots. With Lulu set to open this month and Geist “probably three months out,” Pontes is emerging from the lengthy permitting process, construction delays and other bumps in the road that restaurateurs throughout Nashville encounter amid the city’s boom.

It’s just “the nature of Nashville,” right now, Pontes said. In addition to the standard challenges (like the time it takes to schedule inspections), the historic building housing Geist brought with it additional requirements of preservation, she said, which helps explain the multi-year lag between the lease getting signed and its eventual opening.

As for Lulu, on top of the traditional delays, Pontes has made several changes to the concept since she confirmed plans for the spot in September 2015. Initially envisioned as a full-service restaurant, Lulu will instead embrace a fast-casual model. Pontes just recently decided to change things up in yet another way, moving food preparation from the back of the house to the area behind the bar, in full view of patrons.

“I was uncomfortable for a while because I get really emotionally attached to the concept … which is a terrible thing to be in business,” Pontes said of the decision to rearrange things. “Now I see, even though [the layout change] probably put us more weeks behind and more over budget, it’s really healthy for the long-term, for success.”

Both the rejiggered restaurant design — something the restaurateur hopes will embody “the energy” she wants the fresh-focused eatery to have — and the shift from full-service to fast-casual came at the advice of peers and mentors whose opinion she trusts, Pontes said.

Dropping the full-service model was a hard choice, she said, because she wanted to ensure the restaurant offered a spirit of hospitality that doesn’t end once the customer swipes a credit card. At the same time, she knows people want to have the speed and convenience that format can provide. Her goal? Be sure to marry the two.

“I’m willing to entertain the fast casual, if you can guarantee that we’re going to have enhanced hospitality until they walk out the door,” Pontes said. “It’s going to feel like a full-service restaurant after you swipe your card, or I’m not interested.”

Eleanor Kennedy covers Music City’s tourism, hospitality and music business industries.

Lessons from Successful Retailers


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Wharton’s Marshall Fisher discusses why retailers must break their ‘addiction’ to top-line growth.

Successful retailers can grow quickly in their early years simply by opening new stores. But eventually they run out of real estate, and then they need the discipline to stop opening new stores and focus instead on driving more sales through their existing stores. They can boost sales and profits dramatically by making changes in the way they run their existing stores, such as with help from analytics and the use of technology.

In fact, several such small changes brought in profits that helped 17 retailers outperform the stock performance of the S&P 500 index, according to a new study titled “Curing the Addiction to Growth” published in the Harvard Business Review by Marshall Fisher, Wharton professor of operations, information and decisions, along with his co-authors, Vishal Gaur (who has a PhD from the Wharton School and now is a professor at Cornell’s Johnson School) and Herb Kleinberger (who has an MBA from Wharton and for many years led PWC’s retail practice).

The study covered a 22-year period, ending in 2015, at 37 companies. This group began the 22-year period with double digit top-line growth, which inevitably slowed to the low single digits during 2011-2015 as the retailers reached the maturity stage of their life cycle. Some winners, such as footwear retailer Foot Locker, saw their stock market returns grow 33% a year over this period, or nearly triple the S&P 500 average. Others that witnessed handsome stock market gains include Home Depot and McDonald’s.

The lesson for the laggards is to pause, acknowledge the slowing growth, and look for solutions other than opening new stores. Fisher says retailers, as they mature, must break their “addiction” to top-line growth and adjust their strategies to the changed realities. He sees that maxim play out also with companies outside the retail industry. That approach could apply even to countries as they shift gears, he says, citing China’s efforts to move away from low-end contract manufacturing for the rest of the world to building its own brands for its domestic market.

Listen to the Podcast –

Nashville Employment Adverting


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An alternative way to advertise your Job Openings in the Greater Nashville TN area.

Daily Marketing Services has created an employment recruitment program that incorporates the best of two advertising mediums. The power of the Internet and the readership loyalty of the neighborhood newspapers. This new offering provides local advertisers an affordable way to advertise throughout the Middle Tennessee region while broadcasting their message to the world through Internet  Syndication.

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