Too Many Choices – Real Estate Web Usability
by
on Oct 13, 2016
Listed in Web Usability

Does your real estate brokerage platform provider have a team of User Experience designers and researchers? Do they go out in the field and learn about how people use your brokerage / agent websites? Do they ask your agents what’s working and what’s not?

The team at TRIBUS does.

These are the things we’re intrigued at testing everyday.  We not only use in person samplings, but we also do what is called A/B testing.  Meaning we present one display of a website to some users, and a different one to others.  We check user engagement, time on site and many other factors with each and then make a decision about what to do after coupling the A/B testing with the video we have of interactions in person.  We want to share some videos of user interaction on the site so you have an idea as to what we do, and why you should consider it when building your next site.  Much of the video will feature user interaction on some major websites.  Redfin is one of them.  (By the way Redfin, we do a ton of testing on your sites.  Why might you ask?  Well the truth is that while millions of users check out Redfin each month, FEW actually use them for their agents which makes their site a GREAT case study.  After studying many markets, especially Southern California and Chicago, I can’t tell you how many users answer the question: What site do you look for real estate on? Redfin)

Topic 1:  Too Many Choices

While in general most people would say they love choices, displaying too many on a website can become daunting.  Sometimes, even the simplest duplication of choice can confuse a user.

 

Did you notice what happened here?  The user was frustrated enough by seeing both the search box and the word “BUY” as a button that she was verbally irritated.  Most interestingly, she actually avoided using the primary search box in the hopes that she would find what she was looking for by clicking the BUY button.

We anticipate that this user behavior is due to a few different things but first and foremost, it’s related to choice.  By giving the user what she perceived as two click choices for the same thing, she became irritated and ended up choosing the lesser of two options.  (In a later video we’ll show the frustrations she had once clicking the BUY button.)

Lesson on Web Usability:

When creating your site, keep in mind that you should make it extra clear what each potential click or interaction on your site does.  Instead of BUY perhaps Redfin should have used the word Info on Buying, and left the search box on the main page to do it’s job.  Consider, what on your site might be confusing like this to a user who wouldn’t know anything about real estate?

Eric works with real estate technology companies and brokerages across the country to see what's next for the future of the industry and directs our internal development projects here at TRIBUS.
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  • As it happens we're in the middle of re-designing our home page right now! :)Matt from Redfin

  • Matt, excited to see what you're doing. I've got a ton of video of a few users interacting with your site. I'm very interested in the fact that so many users LOVE to use the REDFIN site, but then call a Realtor at a different company. I'm really trying to get to the bottom of why that is. Keep an eye on the rest of my posts many of them feature your site.Hoping you focus on your new site less on the people at the top and more on the search because consistently that's what I'm hearing people get frustrated by…. they don't necessarily even notice the info below the picture….

  • While I bet your video will show similar things that our usability tests show I'd love to see your video :). Are you going to be at Wordcamp Denver?FYI, the number one reason we've found that people don't use Redfin in Southern California is that we don't service short sales which is why last week we started touring short sales again.

  • MattI will be at WordCamp Denver. Didn't know you were going. It'll be good to chat again.About Redfin, I think the short sales thing is big… but I have a few thoughts about other aspects as well. In my opinion it's an understanding issue. IMHO I think that people don't see Redfin as a brokerage. From the interviews I've done, people think you are like Trulia or Zillow, a service, not a brokerage.

  • I'll be there giving the keynote on how to build a great user experience. I'll brace myself for some heckling :).The issue of people confusing us with a media site like Trulia or Zillow is an interesting one. At times we pull our agents off the site because we don't have the capacity to serve customers with the level of customer service we'd like so it doesn't surprise me that people wouldn't know we're a brokerage; this has been especially true in Southern California. So we know we need to do a better job of messaging that we're a brokerage while at the same time titrating demand. This is a big part of the changes we're working on.

  • As it happens we're in the middle of re-designing our home page right now! :)Matt from Redfin

  • As it happens we're in the middle of re-designing our home page right now! :)Matt from Redfin

  • Matt, excited to see what you're doing. I've got a ton of video of a few users interacting with your site. I'm very interested in the fact that so many users LOVE to use the REDFIN site, but then call a Realtor at a different company. I'm really trying to get to the bottom of why that is. Keep an eye on the rest of my posts many of them feature your site.Hoping you focus on your new site less on the people at the top and more on the search because consistently that's what I'm hearing people get frustrated by…. they don't necessarily even notice the info below the picture….

  • Matt, excited to see what you're doing. I've got a ton of video of a few users interacting with your site. I'm very interested in the fact that so many users LOVE to use the REDFIN site, but then call a Realtor at a different company. I'm really trying to get to the bottom of why that is. Keep an eye on the rest of my posts many of them feature your site.Hoping you focus on your new site less on the people at the top and more on the search because consistently that's what I'm hearing people get frustrated by…. they don't necessarily even notice the info below the picture….

  • While I bet your video will show similar things that our usability tests show I'd love to see your video :). Are you going to be at Wordcamp Denver?FYI, the number one reason we've found that people don't use Redfin in Southern California is that we don't service short sales which is why last week we started touring short sales again.

  • While I bet your video will show similar things that our usability tests show I'd love to see your video :). Are you going to be at Wordcamp Denver?FYI, the number one reason we've found that people don't use Redfin in Southern California is that we don't service short sales which is why last week we started touring short sales again.

  • MattI will be at WordCamp Denver. Didn't know you were going. It'll be good to chat again.About Redfin, I think the short sales thing is big… but I have a few thoughts about other aspects as well. In my opinion it's an understanding issue. IMHO I think that people don't see Redfin as a brokerage. From the interviews I've done, people think you are like Trulia or Zillow, a service, not a brokerage.

  • MattI will be at WordCamp Denver. Didn't know you were going. It'll be good to chat again.About Redfin, I think the short sales thing is big… but I have a few thoughts about other aspects as well. In my opinion it's an understanding issue. IMHO I think that people don't see Redfin as a brokerage. From the interviews I've done, people think you are like Trulia or Zillow, a service, not a brokerage.

  • I'll be there giving the keynote on how to build a great user experience. I'll brace myself for some heckling :).The issue of people confusing us with a media site like Trulia or Zillow is an interesting one. At times we pull our agents off the site because we don't have the capacity to serve customers with the level of customer service we'd like so it doesn't surprise me that people wouldn't know we're a brokerage; this has been especially true in Southern California. So we know we need to do a better job of messaging that we're a brokerage while at the same time titrating demand. This is a big part of the changes we're working on.

  • I'll be there giving the keynote on how to build a great user experience. I'll brace myself for some heckling :).The issue of people confusing us with a media site like Trulia or Zillow is an interesting one. At times we pull our agents off the site because we don't have the capacity to serve customers with the level of customer service we'd like so it doesn't surprise me that people wouldn't know we're a brokerage; this has been especially true in Southern California. So we know we need to do a better job of messaging that we're a brokerage while at the same time titrating demand. This is a big part of the changes we're working on.

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