MHN Executive Council: Biggest Apartment Website Mistakes

Are you making these blunders on your website? The MHN Executive Council describes what NOT to do.

Your apartment community website serves an important purpose: It is often the first stop for prospective residents to find out more about renting. Catch their interest, and they might take the next step toward leasing an apartment. But if you don’t have a good website, the renting process might stop before it even begins. This month, the MHN Executive Council describes mistakes that marketers are making on their apartment websites.

Christine Gustafson

Missing the Mark

Apartment websites today are the #1 marketing tool for a community—and the most visible marketing tool. So many apartment websites miss Fair Housing and highly discussed items such as TTY, multi-lingual sites, accessibility statements and/or the use of stock imagery that doesn’t depict a global community.

Additionally, apartment website design should be customized to the community; it shouldn’t be “cookie cutter.” The website should provide a positive experience for the prospect that should invoke whatever feeling your community has—from relaxing to quaint to upscale to centralized, etc. Marketing is an element of design and the apartment website should be designed to fit the community and convey the correct message. —Christine Gustafson, Vice President of Marketing & Public Relations, The Breeden Co.

Not Making it Easy

Not having a call to action—make sure phone number and contact information can easily be seen. It’s OK to have it placed in numerous areas. Consumers want to see and view your availability, floor plans and pricing. Make it easy for customers to schedule a tour directly from your website. —Kim Baker, Vice President of Marketing, Legacy Partners

Ignoring ADA Compliance

One of the most costly mistakes is ignoring digital ADA compliance. We work with several multifamily groups that are currently and have been sued for this at a very heavy expense. Many of them want to push the blame to the developer they are using for their website. The Department of Justice holds the web domain owner responsible, not the developer. This is because you choose to use their services leaving you ultimately responsible. This is serious business and you will held liable for the other side’s legal expenses on top of your own. It’s not cheap. —Steve Barnes, President, Barnes Creative Studios

Yolanda Cole

Being Generic

I consulted Sarah Barr, principal & director of Hickok Cole Creative, regarding this question. Here are her top bugaboos with existing websites:

  • Hard to find contact information
  • Having a phone number that can’t be texted
  • No autonomous “schedule-a-tour” button
  • Un-staged model unit photography
  • Construction camera, i.e., focus on building vs. resident lifestyle
  • Overuse of common words like “luxury” and impersonal writing overall
  • Too much stock photography/generic stock photography

Yolanda Cole, Co-Senior Principal, Hickok Cole

Being Exclusive

I would like to add language. The importance of using inclusive language that accurately reflects the culture of the community/company. —Stephanie Anderson, Senior Director, Grace Hill

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