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NEFAR’s New Online Home

Person viewing the new NEFAR website on a laptop.

The Northeast Florida Association of REALTORS® (NEFAR) is thrilled to introduce a brand-new website, NEFAR.realtor. This revamped website marks a significant milestone in the association’s digital transformation, boasting a fresh domain name and a sleek, user-centric design. On July 1, NEFAR.com will begin forwarding to the new NEFAR.realtor domain.

Why the Change?

The current website, a decade old, can no longer meet the association’s needs. A few years ago, NEFAR initiated the development of a contemporary website to serve as its digital hub for the next decade. Spearheaded by NEFAR’s Creative Director, Josh Garrett, the project leverages his 15+ years of web design experience.

Key Areas of Focus

  • User-Friendliness: The new website is designed to be intuitive and easy to navigate.
  • Adaptability: It adapts seamlessly to different screen sizes and devices.
  • Scalability: The website can grow and evolve with NEFAR’s needs.
  • Content Support: It better supports new types of content, including multimedia.
  • Modern Technology Integration: The site incorporates the latest web technologies.

“The current website was just meant for displaying the who, what, when, and where – basic information. The new website offers almost limitless possibilities in terms of content and user experience,” Garrett explained.

Experience the New Website

The new website is live and can be viewed at NEFAR.realtor. Below is an extensive outline of many of the advancements you can find on the website.

Expandable Framework

The previous custom-built website served its purpose but was limited in its ability to evolve. The new website is built on one of the world’s most widely used Content Management Systems. This makes it easier to expand functionality cost-effectively without incurring high developer fees. “In most cases, we’ll be able to make design changes and add new capabilities in-house,” said Garrett.

Reinforcing the REALTOR® Brand with a New Web Address

Most members should be familiar with the domain name, “NAR.realtor,” the website address for the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR). Several years ago, NAR launched a service allowing members and associations to use the “.realtor” and “.realestate” domains. NEFAR.realtor will be the new permanent online home for NEFAR. Beginning July 1, NEFAR.com will forward to NEFAR.realtor.

“When we first thought about building a new website for NEFAR, we saw it as a great opportunity to take advantage of the ‘.realtor’ domain. It helps us reinforce the ‘REALTOR’ brand and better communicate who we are. Additionally, participating in this program fulfills one of NEFAR’s Core Standard Requirements for NAR, which is always a plus,” said Garrett. Emails sent to NEFAR.com addresses will still work, but you may start receiving emails from NEFAR.realtor later this year.

One Account to Rule Them All

The Launch Dashboard, released recently by realMLS and NEFAR, allows members to access their NEFAR account, realMLS account, and all connected services using just one “real.” username and password. Users can log into the private areas of the new website via the “Member Login” button or under the “Membership” tab.

Currently, users need to log in a second time when accessing the Launch Dashboard. Also, users logging in from the new website will see a FlexMLS logo instead of a co-branded NEFAR/realMLS login page. “We are working with FBS to resolve these issues ASAP. Users still have access to the private areas of the new site; it just requires an extra step to access the Launch Dashboard and NEFAR account,” Garrett said.

Enhanced User Experience

One of the first things you will notice is a fresh new design. “Given that this new website will usher in a new era for NEFAR online, we wanted to bring a clean, refreshing feel to the website, including a whole new color scheme,” he said. The design is part of a broader brand refresh and is optimized for responsiveness across all devices.

Robust Media Hub

A key focus of the new website is creating a robust news and media hub. “When Marcia Hodgson, NEFAR’s Communications Director, and I first started in 2021, our goal was to increase the content output of the association,” Garrett said.

The new website has an updated news section with all the features you expect a news site to have with category organization, tagging, and sharing tools to easily find and share content.

Another major addition to the new website is a podcast streaming hub. where you can find a curated list of real estate podcasts to play directly from NEFAR.realtor or from your preferred streaming platform. NEFAR encourages members with real estate-focused podcasts to share them for inclusion on the website for free by sending an email with a link to your podcast to garrett@nefar.com.

Monetization Opportunities

The new website offers modern advertising options beyond standard banner ads. Garrett states, “The advanced news and media hub, along with new management capabilities, will allow us to offer creative, cost-effective marketing options to our affiliates and other advertisers.”

Improved Organization and Search

Content on the new site is better organized. The new website makes better use of headings, sidebars, and containers to make the content easier to read and navigate. The integrated search tool enhances the ability to find information across the site. Unlike the previous Google-assisted search, the new tool searches every inch of the site’s database.

More Information

The new website provides NEFAR members with more access to information about their association. Many sections were completely rewritten or expanded to offer more details than ever before.

One major addition is the creation of hubs for each of NEFAR’s eight area Councils and three Specialty Councils. These hub pages will feature updates, photo galleries, upcoming events, and event summaries. “We will post regular updates so that members can stay up to date with what each of these groups is doing. It will allow these groups to market themselves on our website in a way that wasn’t possible before,” Garrett said.

Other expanded areas include Education & Professional Development, with more information about NAR certifications and designations, elections, awards, and a more robust home for NEFAR’s EDGE™ Professional Society. The Leadership and Staff pages have been redesigned to include short bios and photos, making it easy to see who chairs NEFAR’s Committees, Councils, and Task Forces.

“We took what we had and tried to figure out what was missing, what could be added to make the website more useful. We will continue to evaluate and refine the content as needed, adding and removing elements. The new platform makes it much easier to edit and add new content,” he said.?

Modern Tools for a Modern Website

The new website features tools to assist users with various disabilities. For those with visual impairments, there are options to increase text size or adjust colors and contrast, accessible via the blue button in the upper right corner.

AI technology has bridged language barriers. Users can translate the website’s text into Spanish, French, Filipino, or Arabic with a click, using the button in the upper left corner. These languages were chosen based on the most recent census data for Northeast Florida. More languages can be added if needed.

Additionally, the website includes a chatbot powered by AI to answer common questions. While not as advanced as chatGPT, it is trained on NEFAR-specific information and frequently asked questions. “This tool will help members get quick answers, freeing staff to handle more complex requests,” Garrett said. The chatbot will continuously improve as it is trained on new data.

Future Prospects

The new website elevates NEFAR’s online presence to the level expected of an association of its size. Built on an industry-standard content management system, the site can adapt to changing needs without substantial development costs. Garrett and NEFAR’s Communications team will continue to refine the content and functionality.

“This isn’t a situation where once it’s published, it’s done,” Garrett emphasized. “Managing a website for an evolving organization means constant updates and improvements. We will keep refining the site to ensure it meets our members’ needs.”

Please take a minute to explore NEFAR’s new online home at NEFAR.realtor and discover all the enhanced features and capabilities.

About The Author

Marcia Hodgson

A longtime community news and sports reporter, Marcia Hodgson worked for daily and weekly newspapers in Massachusetts, Alaska, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Florida, prior to joining NEFAR as Communications Director. She has a BA degree in political science from George Washington University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Tampa. In her spare time, she enjoys beach combing, reading, traveling, researching her genealogy, and having dinner with friends and family.

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