On building a new website

We’ve begun again. We’ve taken the website apart like it’s some old toaster, or car engine, some defunct mobile phone, and after spreading its parts out on the floor and kicking them around a bit, turning them over and around for a better look at their slick or not-so-slick workings, and giving our head a good shake at our occasional foolishness (and feeling really rather proud of other moments), we’ve gone and completely rebuilt it with a mix of new and old parts.

The idea, of course, was to make it better (that, and you just plain get tired of looking at the same thing day in and day out). And I do think we’ve improved things quite dramatically. Go ahead, have a look around. We’re pretty excited by this redesign.

Which is a relief, first of all. Because you can’t afford to mess something like this up. Real estate can be a cut-throat business (an observation that won’t surprise you in the slightest) and a dumb, unattractive website is a good way to silence the cell phone. You need a logical and unfussy layout. That’s our thought. And the main aim has to be to show off houses at their very best. We’ve allowed space for a great gallery of photographs, as well as brilliant embedded virtual tours and floor plans from the good people at iGuide. Positioned right above all of that orchestrated handsomeness are the straight goods about the property, delivered in coherent, cliché-free prose. In other words, you’ll never come to these pages and find a street address perched atop a lousy phone pic of a wet towel thrown over the back of some rocking chair, and then a caption reading simply, “Bedroom” or “Move-In-Ready”, as if that’s going to get the job done. We’ve seen a lot of that and it ain’t pretty.

A further truth is that we’ve wanted for a long while to take the website widescreen. And to let Neil Bettney at Bent Knee Design implement a new suite of graphics for us. We’ve been working with Neil a long-time now and it’s his big “M” that graces just about everything we do. Thanks to him there will be new signs for your front lawn or your waterfront too, and can I just say that my new business cards are pretty fine?

Slightly weird, all this, right? Well it is to me anyway – this brassy unveiling of new business branding and a new portal for our real estate goings-on. I mean, hell, liking my business cards is something I’m absolutely convinced I should be keeping to myself, or be downright ashamed of. It all feels so very adult, and altogether separate from me, as if I’m sort of writing someone else’s story. It’s that old Talking Heads song come home to roost: How did I get here? (Here’s a link to a video of that, if you’re feeling suddenly nostalgic).

A lot of this is illustrative of the fact that Cheri and I are still pretty resistant to the idea that “sales rep” fully describes what we do during work hours (which, come to think of it, is just about every hour). It’s an ill-fitting suit, is how that feels. There’s a lot more to the job than that handle would suggest, and we want this new website to reflect that.

For those of you who’ve been dropping in for a while, I think you’ll continue to appreciate the place. I’ll still rail in unguarded ways against whatever injustice we’ve experienced, or whatever bad food, whichever local politician ticks us off. But we’ll rave about our favourite albums and books too, our favourite corners and coffee shops. We’ll also try to have a real good think on these pages about the nuts and bolts of this crazy business - what it really means when the mortgage rates go up, for instance, or what the hell you should do when a lovely house appears on a street that’s just not cutting it yet. Should I stay or should I go, in other words (albeit in a context The Clash likely wouldn’t appreciate, and here’s the link to that gem too).

We’d really love to hear from you about all this. Let us know what you think of the changes. Or ask some questions; the contact form is just a click away. We’ll have a go at answering whatever query is on your mind, and we don’t mind venturing beyond the traditional boundaries of real estate, in fact we’d like that. We’re an open book, we really are.

That’s it for now, I reckon. You have to start (and stop) somewhere. We’ll talk to you again soon. And oh yes: welcome to the new Machines.