Developing a website for premium residential real estate. Strategy and tips for creating a great design.

Developing a website for premium residential real estate. Strategy and tips for creating a great design.

Insights

11 min reading
August 2021

Any luxury product means something beyond useful attributes; it has one or several intangible qualities that make it especially desirable. These qualities serve to signify a social status or group belonging, an exclusive lifestyle and high aesthetics, a superior product quality, or tradition and heritage.

Possessing a product with these attributes allows the owner to transcend their personality and feel like something greater, at least for a brief period of time. Essentially, people buy emotions, and the emotion of personal transcendence is at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of desires.

The main task when developing a luxury real estate website is to identify, expand on and communicate these attributes with a maximum effect. Here are a few tips on how to do it.

Communication strategy

Researching product attributes

To fully understand the product’s attributes, speak with the key people on the product’s team and important external people — in our case, the building’s architects and designers. The product’s technical, development, sales and marketing teams can provide a comprehensive overview of its functional and emotional attributes, ranging from its location to the peculiarities of the construction.

The architects and the interior designers may be a source of additional insight into more nuanced matters, such as the history of the location or the reasons behind certain aesthetic or functional decisions. They usually do their own research, approach the product’s design from a wider perspective than developers, and possess a rich historic and aesthetic background. Talking to them is always a good idea, and filming an interview an even better one.

By the end of your research you will be equipped with a wide spectrum of information on everything about the project:

  • Location

    Social infrastructure around, transport and connectivity, ecology and recreation, history and future development plans

  • Functional insight into the building

    Amenities, technical design facts, adjacent territory, security

  • Architecture and design

    Facade and common spaces design, background of the aesthetic and functional design

  • Apartments

    Layouts, views, design and finishing options

Selecting the right product attributes

The more your product communication resonates with what your potential buyers hold dear, the more effective it will be. This is why understanding your clients is essential. Depending on their age, cultural and social background you may be able to derive how buying a new apartment or a house fits their life context, what drives their decision, how they envision their life in their new home. Having this insight will enable you to highlight the most appropriate product attributes in your communication.

Сriteria for selecting a property depending on the age of the buyer and marital status

Building a story

Product attributes alone rarely inspire prospective buyers, as they don’t convey emotions. Inspiration comes with a sense of a lifestyle, eliteness, craftsmanship, tradition, or anything else that may resonate with your clients. These ideas, by their very nature, can’t be communicated on a rational level; they require a compelling story that speaks to them on a subconscious level.

The key to creating a product’s story is forging a single strong idea that goes above and beyond the realm of rational product attributes, yet is directly connected to them, and represents an idea from the apex of your potential buyer’s desires and goals.

To arrive at the idea for your product’s story, distill the functional product attributes into a larger emotional essence; something that your potential buyers may take as a final subliminal push to acquire the property. A strong emotional story is the ignition key for all the communication parts to come together and create a cohesive and impactful impression. It adds the necessary depth to the communication and creates a sense of exceptional value, by alluding to larger ideals that potential buyers will want to transcend into.

Product story components

After arriving at a solid story idea, present the product attributes in light of the story by finding their analogues in the story’s language. Thus, the infrastructure becomes craftsmanship, architecture and design — beauty or personal realisation, surroundings — care for your family’s future and wellbeing.

To be heard and remembered, your message should be original, and not mirror those of your competitors. Study the competition and outline their key brand messages, as well as their strong and weak points. When building your story, pick the ideas that are the most relevant for your potential buyers, among those which haven’t yet been used by your rivals.

Developing the visual design language

The goal of visual design is to help convey the right message to potential buyers, and differentiate your product from the competitors. It wraps information into a rich emotional package, and helps the customers understand and remember the key differences between products. It makes sense to develop a design that:

Resonates with the potential customers

Older clientele gravitate towards a more classical style, and design elements that traditionally represent luxury. Younger customers are more appreciative of new and innovative ideas, dynamism and fun. For a mixed audience a middle line would be appropriate.

Matches the tone of the selected product attributes and the product’s story

The design will “feel” right when it is an integral part of the message you want to convey, rather than an abstract concept. To achieve this, align the visual design with the main themes of the product story. Be avant-garde if your product is avant-garde; be balanced if your message is about balance in life; be traditional if your story is about everlasting values; be high-tech if your product is high-tech.

Stands out from the competition

The website’s colours, tone, and other features should differentiate it from its competitors, and help potential customers to easily remember it. If your website copies another site, then customers may have difficulty remembering the product, or may confuse it with something else.

Examples

A screenshot of LEVEL project website

Level View Case Study

Rational message
The comfort of a city apartment surrounded by the best natural landscape in the Moscow region.

Product story idea
Finding balance in your life.

Implementation
From the product’s name to the visual presentation on the website divided in two halves, the product’s message is implemented as an effective combination of opposites, creating a rich effect.

A screenshot of House at Khlebny project website

House at Khlebny Visit Website

Rational message
An architectural masterpiece in a high-profile Moscow neighbourhood redesigned into deluxe housing.

Product story idea
Making the dream of acquiring a piece of Moscow’s rich history a reality.

Implementation
Ephemeral and dreamy watercolours, coupled with historical content and rich illustrations, create an elegant design language that conveys the uniqueness and high product value, with understatement and effect.

A screenshot of Astris project website

Astris Visit Website

Rational message
Deluxe-class residences in the most prestigious district in Moscow.

Product story idea
Preserving eternal values.

Implementation
An ultra luxury development, Astris is designed for people who have discovered the most important things in life, and who ares eager to pass their belongings on to their children. The product features are presented as everlasting concepts, that clients will be able to relate to with their purchase.

A screenshot of Composition 24 project website

Composition 24 Visit Website

Rational message
A triptych of design houses in Moscow's avant-garde district.

Product story idea
Let your originality blossom in the unique design context.

Implementation
The building is located in Moscow’s historic avant-garde district, which is reflected in the building’s design and brand. The website design builds on the same bold and vivid notes, creating a unique story with original visual and interactive elements.

Don’t allow cliches

Don’t fall for minimalism

Minimalist design has become the lingua franca of luxury communication. In too many cases, however, there’s very little substance, ideas or reason behind the form. Less is more when the content of the message is of the utmost quality, comprehensive, and inspiring in a way that there’s just nothing else to add. In other cases it just makes the communication dull and uninspiring. Sometimes the drive for reduction is taken to absurd levels, with UX just thrown out of the window.

Design by first principles

Base your design on solid research. Build gradually from the product’s attributes, to the story, to the visual design. This will make every part of the communication contribute organically to a bigger message, that will be greater than the sum of its parts. Copying the text from one website, visual style from the second, and features from the third will greatly harm your message — you may like them, but this approach will make your communication look inconsistent and untrustworthy.

Dare to be original

Your potential clients are bombarded with almost identical messages and designs. If your message is just like the rest you risk being lost in the noise. Emotional, relevant and genuinely valuable messages can be picked out and remembered much more easily.

A screenshot of The Columbus Building project website
A screenshot of 25 Churchill Place project website
A screenshot of Aristo London project website
A screenshot of The New Work Project website

Here are a few examples of “minimalistic” and “expensive” real estate project website designs with no unique story or style. Remove the logos and they will look and feel virtually identical, template-based.

Sites used: The Columbus Building, 25 Churchill Place, Aristo, Hello Brooklyn

Best practices in creating website content for premium residential real estate

Some themes and points that will add value to your website:

Location

  • Transportation and accessibility

    easy and quick ways to get to the important points in the city, information about building access routes.

  • Ecology

    Lack of industrial buildings, abundance of parks, air quality.

  • History

    Information about any historic places, people or events.

  • Social infrastructure

    Schools, health, shopping, etc.

Design

  • Architecture

    Information about the architectural style and its roots, facades, materials and technologies, BIM design, etc.

  • Common space design

    Lobby, parking and other shared premises design details.

  • Apartment interior design

    Presentation of available styles and finishes.

  • Inner territory design

    Presentation of the available features and design.

Infrastructure

  • In the building

    Colourful presentation of services, entertainment, sports, health and wellbeing facilities in the building.

  • In close proximity

    A map with selected social infrastructure points around the project with short descriptions and photos.

Benefits

  • Common spaces functional offerings, like pram spaces or pet baths.

  • Apartment features

    Any remarkable functional or technical details, like panoramic windows, high ceilings, smart home equipment, etc.

  • Parking features

  • Building engineers details

Gallery

A collection of images used on the website, grouped into categories for easy access: interior, exterior, apartments, views from the apartments. The views from the apartments could be broken down by floor (or number of floors for high-rises).

Apartment selection

  • Parametric search

    Filter apartments by space, number of rooms, floor, price, and any special amenities they may have.

  • Visual selection

    Find an apartment by selecting a floor on a building’s facade, then by selecting an apartment on a floor plan. To facilitate the selection, show number of available apartments when hovering over a floor.

  • Wizards

    Allow the client to find a desired apartment by asking a series of questions about their preferences.

  • Apartment page

    Besides the apartment plans, which should be stripped of unnecessary technical information and created in the brand’s visual style, this page may contain information on any special details. finishing options, views from the windows, links to financing information, as well as a selection of similar apartments.

  • Add to favourites

    A kind or a wishlist folder where the client can save apartments that they liked.

  • Printable plans

    Make sure to offer downloadable high-quality apartment plans, with all the relevant information.

Showroom ideas

For a touchscreen in a showroom, It makes sense to create a slimmer version of the website, designed to go along with the sales manager’s presentation. Apartment selection on this kind of website can be structured from the sales manager’s perspective, allowing them to easily arrive at apartment types that may be of interest to the particular client. It could start with layout / room selection, then orientation, floor etc, essentially working like a wizard.

An example of showroom touchscreen interface

Victory Park Residences touch panel presentation made by Vide Infra
View Case Study

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