Senior living websites with blanketed messaging and text-heavy formatting only increase one thing: bounce rates. If your goal is conversion, then website design must be a priority.

Users claim they don’t find the information they’re looking for on a website a staggering 60% of the time, and with the average website visitor having an attention span of only eight seconds, it’s more crucial than ever to get the right information in front of visitors at first glance.

To capitalize on those eight seconds, your website needs to be organized in a way that presents the most important, relevant and personalized information first. What’s more, mobile devices no longer are the exception, and proper design also must jibe with proper coding so your website speaks fluently with search engines. As a result, simplicity is key. 

Compared with time spent in other sectors of real estate such as multifamily or traditional homes, those looking to make the transition for themselves or their loved ones into a senior living community generally invest more time into evaluating their options and in operators’ online content. Visual hierarchy helps promote specific content, encourages user engagement and improves the overall experience for visitors.

When building your community’s website, keep these six design tips in mind:

1. Size

Although the most important elements should be the biggest, it is important to remember that search engines do not consider font size when scanning your website. Headlines must be properly formatted to be read by machines. An H1 headline, for example, should be used only once per page as it presents the primary topic. An H2 supports the H1, and an H3 supports the H2 — you can use as many of these per page as you would like. Websites that clearly communicate information to search engines are more likely to be prioritized on the results page.

2. Color

In designing for the human eye, each color conveys its own psychological connections. For example, blacks and reds readily draw attention, whereas softer shades of yellow, cream and gray are less powerful and more difficult to read. The effects of these colors can be enhanced and reversed by contrasting them against their natural opposite for greater attention to both.

3. Layout

The layout of your website directly affects conversions. Content appearing front and center calls for the most attention, but actionable items like calls for action (CTAs) should be kept in one or two prime locations. Scrolling up and down may change the content, but the site logo, menu, contact information and social media icons should stay put.

4. Spacing

The fewer elements you have, the more vibrant and legible the primary, remaining information becomes. Creating the right amount of space between your most important elements helps keep them at the center of attention. Adding white space between paragraphs and in margins helps improve comprehension, especially for aging eyes.

5. Texture and style

Choosing design elements that complement your brand’s specific style affects your visual hierarchy. Texture adds depth and atmosphere to a website and offers similar advantages as those of size and color.

6. Calls to action

The area that is immediately visible when a website loads is considered the space “above the fold” and is the most valuable real estate on the site. This is where you should place your CTAs. CTAs make it easy for website visitors to contact you or reach out for more information. In the senior living space, the pages that hold detailed living options are the most heavily trafficked and provide the most useful information to those seeking a new home for themselves or a family member. CTAs, therefore, should direct users to those pages before introducing a hard CTA, such as scheduling a tour, for example.

Moving a parent or loved one into a senior living community is an often-trying and emotional time. Given that many adult children experience guilt when helping their mom or dad make this life-changing transition, it is important to put their minds at ease. Website design, therefore, must be approached carefully and sensitively.

Keep the following in mind when appealing to your audience:

  1. Write your website copy with empathy. Ease the transition and promote a healthy community feel by using messaging and design that is calming, comforting and inviting. 
  2. Avoid stock photography. Post and display real images taken on-site to exemplify what residents can expect to see when living there. Generic photos may be appealing to the eye, but they don’t always accurately represent a property and its amenities.
  3. Incorporate testimonials. Include recent testimonials from real people, including residents and family members, to encourage engagement and brand relatability. It also is important to keep testimonials up to date; a testimonial from four months ago is more powerful than one from four years ago.

Sixty-eight percent of senior living marketers say the community website is their most effective communication channel, but reaching their audience in an impactful way requires a specialized approach. Yes, general website optimization applies across all real estate sectors, but appealing to older adults and their families and those looking to transition into a senior living community means creating a sense of comfort that may not be as necessary with other audiences. Incorporating visually stimulating content with a focus on size, color and carefully placed CTAs — and integrating this with empathetic, personalized messaging — guarantees increased lead generation and interest.

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