Stop looking at me

Human images are used liberally on real estate websites. Among agents this is usually done in adherence to the tenets of personal branding. Brokers and online real estate companies often use images of people to add warmth to their sites, to create engagement through contrived empathy, or to lend credibility to their claims.

This practice has waned a bit as sensitivity to usability and search engine optimization has increased, but it nonetheless remains in some pretty prominent places.

I’ve always found pictures of smiling families, earnest agents and confident borrowers cloying or just plain distracting. I chalked that up to my own less-than-warm and fuzzy disposition — until a friend sent me this post from GrokDotCom. Take a look at the heat maps in the post and then look at these two sites:


There’s so much right about this page, but I found my eyes locking in on David and Betty right off the bat, which is probably not such a good thing, considering critical information about the company’s mission and benefits gets a short shrift.   


This page is not so wonderful, which makes the image of the guy in the middle even more damaging. We’re caught in his gaze and left really confused as to where to go next – the puzzling "building blocks" header to his left or the anemic call to action on his right.

People interact with web pages in different ways. But this should give anyone building a real estate site something to consider before playing the "people" card.

Brian Boero