Since creating my first real estate WordPress theme back in December of 2008, and thousands of buyers later, I’ve grown to know what buyers and real estate agents want in terms of features and ease of use.
In general whenever you sit down to brainstorm a new theme, you need to think about the end-user. Put yourself in their shoes, how are they going to use this theme, what’s most important to them in terms of features, design, etc… In this case we’re talking about the real estate industry, and over the course of this article I’ll cover key points and features that make up the perfect real estate WordPress theme.
Powerful Search Utility
Say you’re looking for a home, first thing you do when you’re on a site is look for the Search Utility, right? I know I did when I was looking to buy my first home, so this feature is usually priority numero UNO (or number one for the non-spanish speakers ;)). Take my WP Pro Real Estate 4 theme for example, the Search Utility is right up front and center preventing the user from getting lost scouring the homepage for what they really want.
Agent & Broker Contact Information
Ok ,so you’ve found the perfect home — what’s the next step? Contacting the agent or broker of course. What I’ve done is created Agent Info and Broker Information widgets, for both my WP Pro Real Estate 3 and WP Pro Real Estate 4 themes. This allows the agent/broker to place their contact info in any of the 10 widget ready areas, heck they can place them in all 10 if they want — ensuring they won’t lose that sale.
Responsive Web Design
These days mobile devices are huge, more and more people are browsing the internet on-the- go using smart phones and tablets. Responsive Web Design (RWD) is an approach to web design in which a site is crafted to provide an optimal viewing experience — easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling — across a wide range of devices (from desktop computer monitors to tablets and mobile phones). You can see a great example of this in my WP Pro Real Estate 4 theme, use a QR scanner app on your mobile device to check it out!
Any Agent or Brokerage is going to have a few listings that they’ll want to feature front and center on the homepage, at the top of the listing search area or in any one of the many sidebar areas. Taking a look at my WP Pro Real Estate 4 theme you can see a nice carousel of featured listings on the homepage, then a featured spot atop the listing search results. I’ve also included a very flexible listings widget where a user can choose from the many taxonomy types (property type, status, beds, baths, city, state, zip/postcode) then set a certain tag to pull from in this case they would choose Status and the tag of Featured, then set the number they’d like displayed.
Listing Detail Template
Another important element is the listing detail or single template, this needs to be a nice tight and focused layout. The hierarchy of elements I have found to work best is as follows:
- Previous/Next Listings Navigation
Main Content Area
- Street Address, City, State, Zip/Postcode
- Bed, Bath, Sq Ft or M2, MLS or ID #
- Slider of Images
- Listing Blurb (Post Content)
- Listing Features
- Location (Google Maps)
- Agent Info
- Broker Info
- Mortgage Calculator
- Request a Showing (Contact Form)
- Agents Other Listings
The Agent Template (author.php) is a great way to showcase contact and bio information, along with a large map of that agents listings. This is exactly what I’ve done in my WP Pro Real Estate 4 theme below:
Layout & Customization Options
Don’t let your user get stuck into a single layout, offer them options. For instance in WP Pro Real Estate 4, I’ve included left column, right column and three column layouts that can be chosen on a per page, per section (listing search and single) basis or in general site-wide.
Whether it be uploading a custom logo, or creating a custom skin you need to allow your users to easily customize their theme to fit their specific needs. Take a look at the example below, I’ve built out an extensive admin framework to allow all sorts of theme options and possibilities.
Hopefully you’ve found these points useful and I’ve inspired you to go on and create your own perfect real estate WordPress theme!