A recently launched real estate website that differs substantially from the norm is experiencing usability issues. Because of the uniquness of the look and feel of the site, users are unclear that the site is primarily focused on real estate.

Are there any recommendations as best usability practices for a site that's completely different from the norm? How can we make it so users can intuitively understand what the site is about?

An image of the home page is below. The link to the test site is demo.thebambergergroup.com

Home Page UI


Always follow the user goals! What's the user coming to the website for? To buy or sell property? (I notice renting is an attribute on some properties but there's no mention of it anywhere else).

There is no distinction on the home page on what is a building/park/shop that I can't do anything with (I can't buy or sell the park), versus the apartment building where I can rent an apartment. You need some way to distinguish properties that have something to do with the user's goal versus a property that doesn't.

Then when I've identified a property I can do something with, it is very hard to see just what I can do. It's in small text at the top: "1 for sale". Oh wait, I click on that and the whole panel disappears...

So, for your homework, write up a user journey of a typical user coming to the site:

  • What is their goal?
  • What do they need to accomplish their goal?
  • Where do they start?
  • Where are they going to run into trouble, and what is there to help them?

Here's a similar website: a map view search of properties that can be bought, rented, etc.

Some references: http://theuxreview.co.uk/user-journeys-beginners-guide/

Smashing Magazine: All You Need To Know About Customer Journey Mapping (sorry I can't link - you need more than 10 reputation to post more than 2 links!)

  • Thanks for this. Not sure fi you understood my question. It wasn't about the usability of the map, but rather, whether a user understands the purpose of the site without even doing anything. Do you have any suggestions related to that? – Dan Bamberger Nov 11 '15 at 23:45
  • @Kerr, Welcome to UX Stack Exchange. With two up-votes for your answer, you now have more than 10 reputation points, so you can edit your answer to add the second link you wanted to add. Please do. :) – JeromeR Nov 11 '15 at 23:58
  • This thread will probably get locked because it essentially falls under "site review". If you take inspiration from the first link that Kerr posted, you will fix the usability problem. That is, when the home page loads, just show the property listings on the right side, with price, thumbnail photo. And as user hover-overs each property, and scrolls down, the corresponding building on the map will become lit. You can only break convention so much before people get completely lost. – Jung Lee Nov 12 '15 at 0:02
  • Dan, to me, Kerr's answer suggests that the map may be failing to convey the purpose of the site, and points to a few of the map's details to back that up. It's common in design to focus on a problem on way, only to learn that the problem is different than you had imagined it. I wonder whether the map resembles a game, which would lead to a misconception for site visitors. – JeromeR Nov 12 '15 at 0:03
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    @JeromeR The main user goal for the site is to position a real estate broker as the local neighborhood and building expert in the eyes of potential sellers. Ideally folks looking to sell their apartment who stumble on the site walk away with the impression that we are the broker of choice. – Dan Bamberger Nov 12 '15 at 0:33

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