Why Do All These Tours Load So Slow?

December 20th, 2007

My wife Levi just returned from an intensive week in Issaquah, WA helping several long time clients purchase properties. One of her comments about the experience was instructive for anyone that creates or makes decisions about which tour to use. She said, “why do all these tours load so slow and why can’t I control them?”

In the home search process she works much like any buyer would by searching large numbers of listings. She’s doing it on the MLS since she’s an agent but the process of viewing tours works just like any buyer would when viewing a tour. That is, she has a long list, she’s in a hurry and she wants to click on the tour link and quickly page through a few images before moving on. If it looks good on the first pass she’ll come back later and stay longer for the whole “show”. If it’s hard to figure out or she can’t instantly see how to control it she moves on to the next on the list.

So the tour qualities that facilitate quick scanning are:

  1. Fast loading: You have around 7-10 seconds. If the tour isn’t ready in this time people are just going to move on. People don’t have patience to hang around for long loading tours.
  2. Ability to control the tour once it loads: If you want to quickly browse through a tour there must be navigation and it must be instantly obvious how it works.

In the middle of writing this post I had a discussion with a reader who was pointing out that the load time of tours varies depending on the speed of the Internet connection you have. That’s true, so maybe there isn’t a hard and fast 7-10 seconds load time and maybe your patience will vary somewhat depending on how fast you connection speed.

Slow is relative to what you are used to. But the point I wanted to make here is that when choosing tour software you need to be very sensitive to the load speed and the intuitiveness of the navigation because if either one of these qualities are lacking some viewers will just skip your tour.

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9 Responses to “Why Do All These Tours Load So Slow?”

  • I understand “fast loading”. I also thought I nderstood “ability to control”. What I don’t understand is all the recent talk about how “hot” movies are. They don’t load quickly and you can’t control viewing sequence. So what’s the big deal about being on YouTube?

  • For real estate I think YouTube is popular for two reasons:
    1- It’s video and video is cool many do it because it’s trendy and not because it’s effective.
    2- Their is a big link benefit to have YouTube pointing at your site. YouTube is the number 4 or 5 site on the Internet if it has a video that links to your site it raises the pagerank or authority of your site so you show up higher in google searches.

  • So offer a tour with low-res pics and the possibility to switch to fullscreen with high-res pics. Offer a thumbnail gallery for a fast lookup. At last it’s all about usability…

  • I think a nice picture of the property, like the one in Levi’s example posted on Dec.17th (btw thanks for her feedback from the clients’ point of view!), can be used to catch the viewer’s attention for those crucial 7-10 seconds (a challenge for the stager and/or the photographer?). Also, software for thumbnails like Highslide ( that will “preload” a number of images can be used, as I did in a floor-plan tour ( -> click on “showhouse”) which now also includes a visual tour with thumbnails. It is a HTML with Java (Highslide mainly) alternative that I thinks is very simple, nice and efficient. The same images are used in both tours (floor-plan and visual) so they are loaded only once. In the visual tour the basic controls appear on the top-right corner of the pictures, but arrow keys can also be used.

  • […] Source and Read More: Photography for Real Estate […]

  • I think the people over at Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate illustrate how to make good use of video and differentiate it from photography. They’ve been doing this for years and their file sizes are manageable too, not those 60mb+ per property tours

    I still prefer a walk around tour with a commentator though, but this requires at least 2 people and someone, preferably the agent being confident enough to talk to the camera

  • Phil,
    Yes, I agree. The Slifer Smith & Frampton example you site shows excellent use of video… using it where it adds the presentation but not just using video for sake of using video.

  • I think the main idea here is 1) You view the small, easy to load, quick to find MLS Photos FIRST. 2) You don’t care for what you see, and move on, or you like what you see and WANT to see more. I think THEN you will have the patience to wait for a video tour to load and aren’t quite as antsy in wanting to see everything quickly. You’re now a serious buyer for that property. And you want to see it in more detail…

  • Aloha,
    The main reason virtual Tours and videos take so long to load is because of the file size. Anything with movement will have a much larger file size than anything without. Even a slide show with a special effect of a page turning will load slower than one without.

    I offer my clients a slide show that loads very fast, gives you complete control to go forward and reverse, lets you insert links, music, choose your own background colors, font style and size, presents itself FUll Screen with extremely large sharp images, is Flash Generated so your pictures are safe from being copied, may be sent to a buyer in an e-mail simply by inserting a link in your letter and does The One Thing every RE agent MUST HAVE, Captivates and Holds the attention of your viewer.
    Sorry I will not tell you what this program is for this is how I make a living by producing these impressive presentations for all my RE clients. I am an architectural photographer of 27 years in Hawaii and if anyone would like me to produce a slide show presentation for them I will be happy to do so. Here is a sample of my services.

    A sample of a typical agents slide show…


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