Building on his father’s success, Donald Trump has managed to make his family name synonymous with luxury real estate. Love him or hate him, you would have to be a fool not to study how he has run his many businesses. Today, we’ll look at one thing in particular: Trump International Realty’s website.

The Internet is doubtlessly one of the most important marketing channels for real estate agents – and yet, it is underestimated by so many. This presents those of you who are a little more forward-thinking with a golden opportunity to score some easy points on your colleagues and competitors. Read along to find out what lessons you can learn about real estate web design from the #1 name in real estate – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

1. Consistency is King.

Trump International Realty is a luxury real estate agency. Many of the properties on their website are listed at $10,000,000-$30,000,000 dollars, which is pretty crazy if you think about it.

When you’re done thinking, consider the following: if you were super rich and visited the same website, but instead of looking the way it does, it was full of playful colours and crazy typefaces — would you even consider picking up the phone and calling one of their agents to book a viewing? You might pick up the phone to make sure they weren’t being held at gunpoint by some crazed clown who’s forcing them to turn their website into a virtual ice cream truck, but I sincerely doubt you’d want to buy anything from them (except maybe ice cream).

Fortunately, their website doesn’t look anything like that. While the Donald is known for being anything but lowkey, his website is an exercise in tasteful understatement. The colour scheme is monochromatic, and utilises black, white, and different shades of grey to create a luxurious backdrop to the extravagant listings. The paper-texture background is like the proverbial cherry on top. Look at that subtle off-white colouring… the tasteful thickness of it:

Point is, consistency is king. If your website, product, and personality aren’t in alignment, you will only create confusion about who your products or services are for. There’s a reason why Coca-Cola spends $4 billion dollars every year on branding: it’s to make sure people know what sort of company they are, so that there’s never any confusion about who should buy their drinks and what their drinks will taste like.

To quote this random article (if it’s on the Internet, it must be true) I found online, brand consistency is important because:

  • Consistency helps you manage perceptions. By thinking carefully and deliberately about your brand you can shape how people perceive your organization. Consistency connotes professionalism, purpose and stability.
  • Consistency conveys your outlook and attitude. A focused effort to establish and maintain consistent branding will deliver a very specific set of impressions: Are you serious? Are you intentional? Do you follow through? Are you focused?
  • Consistency eliminates issues surrounding brand confusion. For many companies, their branding is actually more of a hindrance than a help. A consistent brand should instill confidence rather than engender confusion.
  • Consistency protects your investment. Without established brand standards, many organizations spend thousands of dollars crafting a logo and building a message, only to have it degraded by inconsistent, sloppy application. Build equity in your brand by being consistent.
  • Consistency builds upon previous successes. No one has to guess, “I wonder what this Coca-Cola will taste like?”

Makes sense, right? See, I told you — if it’s on the Internet, it’s true.

Embrace who you are. Become who you are. If you sell suburban homes to middle-class families, your website probably shouldn’t look like a carbon copy of a Trump website. It should be personable, it should look nice and polished but not too expensive. That’s how you build a successful brand.

2. … And content is a close second.

The visual content on the website, such as the listing images, is presented in a simple but polished way that makes it easy to consume. The written content, however, is a whole different story. This is where the Trump Realty website leaves a lot to be desired. The body text is small and annoying to read even for me, a 20-year-old (who admittedly owns a pair of glasses, but that’s mostly to look smarter than I really am). Imagine what a 55-year-old CEO who has to squint when reading the Wall-Street Journal is going to think about the reading experience.

As a general rule of thumb, the older your audience = the bigger the text needs to be. The text size on this blog is 18 pixels, whereas the text size on the Trump website is…. 14 pixels. Doesn’t sound like a lot, but the difference in reading comprehension, readability, and legibility (and no, these words don’t refer to the exact same thing) is actually staggering.

3. Don’t give away your leads to competitors (duh).

Another thing you’ll notice about the website is that Trump Realty are really protective of their leads. Now, they are part of the American MLS (if you don’t know what MLS is, I explain it in an upcoming blog post). This means visitors are able to search for listings from all sorts of real estate agents on the Trump website. But Trump tries his best to keep people from viewing any listing that isn’t a Trump Realty exclusive. For one, they push down the other results as far as possible. Then, should anyone still happen to click on, say, a listing from Brown Harris Stevens, this is what they see:

This is so dirty. Want to look at one of our competitors’ listings? Give us your email address so we can market to you – for ever, for free. For Trump Realty, it’s a win-win. Either you close the login screen, and get redirected back to the listings page. Or you give them your email address, which is worth way more than a lousy anonymous page visit. Best part is, most of these other real estate agencies are probably sending leads to Trump through the MLS system — without asking for anything in return. It’s pretty genius.

Wow, you made it! 😃

Congratulations, you made it to the end of the article. I hope you didn’t skip too much of it, but either way I’m psyched that you’re here.

Confession: I’m keeping the best part of this article a secret. If you want to read it, I’d be happy to send it to you via email. Don’t worry, I won’t try to sell you anything. It’s something you’ll actually want to read. Imagine that, an email that doesn’t suck!