Why Should I "Upgrade" my REW Website?
When you are invited to "upgrade", it does not mean "buying a bigger package". It's really just an "update" to the site's software. Updates are invaluable for fixing bugs, improving code, making things faster, maintaining third party services (like Google Maps), and enabling new features.
However, we do charge for the labour required to upgrade – so it's reasonable that some of our clients have chosen to keep their sites in stasis, running the software which was current at the time of their site's installation at REW. We fully anticipate the following questions:
- What will I get if I upgrade?
- "My current REW site is customized..."
- What it costs
- What you'll need to do
- More FAQ's
What will I get if I upgrade?
We've put together a very basic list of the features you've been missing in the last few years. If your site is already on 4.0 or 4.1 (current as of 1-2 yrs ago), then you probably won't see much that's new in the list down below, BUT you might be interested in seeing what was added in 4.2 and 4.3.
You can see some of the newer features by playing around with this demo of our "premium template 2":
It's important to note that all of the features mentioned below are standard for any Real Estate Webmasters site with IDX (not just on our premium designs). The link above shows the PT2 because the new features simply look good on that skin.
Lead capture - The process for capturing leads' information (soliciting registration) is greatly improved:
- You now edit the terms of registration: Choose whether / how many listings a lead can view before they are "forced" to register. Change it back anytime if you don't like the results. You also choose whether to require the lead to enter a phone number or use a password.
- Editable registration form: You can update the text or HTML in the registration form to change the message/imagery.
- Users can register for your search via their social accounts (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), which is easy for them and gives you a better profile of your lead.
Better search for users - It's faster, the results are customizable, the logged-in interface has more features, the listing pages look better, and the search options are more easily customized for the users.
Editable IDX - You choose which search criteria are shown or hidden in the search form. You narrow the list of cities searchable in your IDX. Limit the price range or property type to target a niche audience. Choose how the results are displayed. Write your own email for the saved search notifications. You decide where the map search begins, and how it works.
Get the mobile and tablet users - All of our sites with IDX come with a mobile-friendly version of the property search, so that a user can easily search/view listings in the grocery lineup. Our premium templates and LEC's also have "responsive design" which means that the "mobile" pages are not separate pages - instead, all of the site's pages use a layout that adjusts for different screen sizes (yes - good for SEO and useability).
Lead management - Huge improvements here in recent years. Much more flexible, easier to organize leads; you can see when a lead visited the site, what they viewed (also in a summarized view), how they compare to an average user, and where they came from.
Agents and lead assignment: Your agents' info is easy to enter and manage, and you can set a TON of different types of permissions for each agent, according to who does what in your office. Enable lead auto-assignment to split leads evenly among your personnel, and choose whether a lead is re-assigned to another agent if the first agent doesn't accept the lead in [x] time. By the way, we also offer several ways to make your agents happy with individual profiles/sites/subdomains.
There's a dashboard for seeing site activity numbers over time, as well as the most viewed listings, and the listings which brought in the most search traffic.
Enhanced email server standards - Because you want your emails to reach your clients and leads. More info about anti-spam features in 4.2+, here.
Improvements all around: Better calendar, CMS, listings manager, listing reports, and much more.
What it costs
In most cases, an upgrade requires less than 10 hours (but see the "best case scenario" below). There is currently a discounted rate of $100/hr for upgrading.
Best-case scenario: If you don't need us to transfer your IDX snippets (you can re-create those easily, anyway) or to bring over your leads' saved searches, then the upgrade time can usually be cut in half, which means you only pay for a few hours of time needed for updating the new site's branding and any listing display customizations required by your MLS board.
All of flat-fee modules you paid for on the old site, will be on the new site too, of course.
"My current REW site is customized...will I lose the customizations?"
Unless your site is current as of 2011, then your upgrade will require a fresh site to be installed, which means that your old customization will be overwritten. However:
- That feature may now be standard with the newer sites.
- We may be able to do it in far less time on the new site, because the site's code is cleaner and/or the custom code might be recyclable.
- In general, if it took 5 hours the first time, you can expect a custom project to take about 2-3 hours this time. However, feel free to request an estimate for the upgrade, and mention the customization that you want to bring over into the new site.
"If I already paid for a customization, why would I need to pay for it again?" - Our custom work is 100% labour-based, which means that you pay for ANY labour related to the custom work. This includes any time needed to re-do that work on a new site.
What you'll need to do
You probably won't have to do anything except to look around the new backend to see how things work in the new system. However, in some cases (such as if you have an LEC), you may need to look through your new site to make sure the content transferred sensibly from the old site. There are certain cases where navigation menus need to be re-built in the CMS, or where pages' formatting (headings, bullets, etc.) needs to be adjusted. We are also happy to do this for you, though it may result in the project taking more time.
If you are upgrading to a responsive design, such as an LEC or a Premium Template, then you might want to budget a few hours for getting our designers to help with your content; you may need help getting your photos and paragraphs to look the way you want for mobile/tablet users.
Q. Will the upgrade affect my SEO?
A. The short answer is no. Overall, the upgrade is good for your SEO because the new code is more SEO-friendly and the site/IDX are faster. In the short term, Google might hiccup a bit as they index your new page format.
Q. Which modules are included with each kind of site?
A. See here for a complete list.
Q. I like the newer templates, but I worry they look too generic, or several agencies in my area already have them.
A. You might be amazed by how some simple customization (like a background image) can differentiate a site from other similar templates. E.g., brentlane.com, kohalaestaterealty.com
Q. Can I get a bunch of new customizations at the special $100/hr rate?
A. No, that rate is only for the upgrading. That process DOES include re-implementing previous customizations, but anything completely new will be billed at the regular rate.
Q. Do I have to stop blogging on the "old" site while the new site is built?
A. The blog content and leads are transferred over when the new site goes live, so you can keep blogging on the live site throughout development.
Q. I'm considering having two sites but I think it would be too expensive.
A.We'll duplicate your site anytime, with all of its content and customizations. You just pay for any included modules, and the couple/few hours required to clone the site. Of course, this means you pay twice for hosting/SAAS.