A well-designed website serves a crucial role for marketing professionals seeking new residents for their multifamily properties. Faster websites have a significantly better chance of keeping prospective renters on the site long enough to take the first step toward renting a new home.
Esther Bonardi, vice president of corporate marketing & head of REACH by RentCafe, with Yardi, spoke during a webinar on April 14 about the importance of website performance. She offered tips on measuring how well a site is operating and suggestions on repairing and improving websites. “How Does Your Website Stack Up?” was a pre-conference webinar for the Apartment Internet Marketing Conference, being held this year in Huntington Beach, Calif.
READ ALSO: Top Takeaways From the 2022 Multifamily Social Media Summit
Customers visiting apartment websites will quickly leave if the web pages load slowly. Bonardi noted this is called the bounce rate, which measures how many people came to a site but did not stay around long enough to do anything. She has seen data demonstrating that if page load time increases from one second to three seconds, the bounce rate increases 32 percent. If page load time increases from one second to six seconds, the bounce rate increases 106 percent.
“There’s another study that shows that if a site takes four seconds to load, 25 percent of the customers are going to immediately leave,” Bonardi said.
She suggested that marketing professionals who want to measure the performance of their websites can turn to Lighthouse, an open-source automated tool for improving the quality of web pages. It was created and supported by Google.
Lighthouse analyzes a website’s use of guidelines devised by Google, called Core Web Vitals, through real-world data gathered from millions and millions of website searches. The CWV measures speed, responsiveness and visual stability to assess page performance of websites.
The Lighthouse tool audits websites for performance and speed, whether it is accessible to people with a visual impairment, if the site is a Progressive Web App, whether basic SEO elements are in place and many other aspects.
Checking for Accessibility
Bonardi said that Lighthouse checks for accessibility issues such as the contrast between background and foreground colors, or if images and buttons have alt elements, which allow visually impaired users to read text or links with screen readers.
“What about a black site with dark text. That’s really hard to read. Imagine if you have a visual impairment? If you have trouble seeing, you are not going to be able to read that text,” Bonardi pointed out.
One of the other major items that Lighthouse checks for is to see if a website is a PWA. She noted it is a type of software delivered through the web that creates a user experience that feels like an app on a smartphone.
“When you have a good website from a structural perspective, one that performs well, you are not only impressing your customers because all the metrics that they build to measure these things are built based on customer behavior, but you are also impressing the search engines,” Bonardi said.