’s back. This time, it means business.

If you hadn’t noticed, last week we quietly re-launched with a new focus and a new look. Enough quiet. Today, we’re making a little noise about the new Check it out today!

The all-new VaHomeownersAlliance.comThis isn’t just a refresh. No, sir. We’ve totally redesigned the site, rebuilding it from scratch on a free and flexible platform that will allow us to roll out even more features in the months to come. We’ll tell you about those in a future VARbuzz post.

But for now, here are some of the new and improved site features:

  • Heavy focus on site content. You’ll see that the site content appears much further up the screen than the old site, which will make it much easier for visitors to tell at a glance what kinds of information they can expect to get from the site.
  • No more cumbersome “regions”. Formerly, users had to choose from eight large areas of the state and get their news from multiple cities and counties within that region. We felt that Virginia’s counties were big enough without grouping them with five or even 10 others, thank you very much.  So we gave every county and incorporated city its own page. Oh, and you can choose as many counties and cities as you’d like to get updates about. So for example, if you live near the borders of, say, Fredericksburg, Stafford and Spotsylvania, you can select all three localities and get news about all of them on your personalized home page.
  • News stories aren’t just copied and pasted verbatim from newspaper Web sites anymore. Now, the news stories posted to the site are reviewed by a manager who summarizes the article, provides a homeowner perspective on the story, pastes a snippet from the story, and a link to the original article.
  • The site has a master RSS feed and an RSS feed for every Locality, enabling Realtors and Virginia Homeowners Alliance members to subscribe to updates about only their chosen areas.  We’re looking into the feasibility of adding a “subscribe by e-mail” feature for news from each locality.
  • When users join the site, they instantly receive an e-mail from the site welcoming them and providing them with a link to a page that gives them seven quick ways to get the most of their Alliance membership.
  • Once members log in, they see a prominent “members-only section” on the top navigation bar that has members-only reports and articles. We’ll continue to add members-only content to this area.
  • There’s a lot of social media and viral marketing stuff built into the site. More and more homeowners are getting into it, so we thought should too.

We’re still working on moving some of the old site content over to the new platform. Some of those features include the Kid’s Corner with information for parents on the Standards of Learning tests and the locality-specific real estate assessment information.

The new site has been live for just under a week, and we have posted about 40 stories at this point. One of the drawbacks to having a separate page for each locality (there’s over 120 of them) is that it’s much more labor-intensive to cover each locality with stories than when we had eight huge regions. Our site manager is working hard to cover 75% of the localities with at least one story by August 1. If you have a story you think should be covering, please send it to us!

Just a couple more points. These about advertising the site:

  • We started running an advertisement on Facebook last week for the new site that targets Virginians aged 30 years and older.
  • If you use Client Direct, your next VAR-provided article will be about the redesigned site. It will look remarkably like this article.
  • We have additional direct-to-homeowner advertising plans in the works. So if you want to qualify for the incentives that we have to recruit homeowners into the alliance, be sure tell your friends, family, neighbors, and clients (both past and future) about the site. Otherwise, we may recruit them before you have a chance to.
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One Response to’s back. This time, it means business.

  1. Jim Rake says:

    Ben – excellent “remake”.

    Its obvious there’s been some work in improving the site. Nice look and very good content. Some noticeable value added material jumps out at you…

    Your “news stories posted to the site are reviewed by a manager who summarizes the article, provides a homeowner perspective on the story, pastes a snippet from the story, and a link to the original article”, and the video tutorials are the most obvious.

    Keep up the great work!

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