Edward Rose & Sons (ERS) is a privately held, family-owned and operated real estate development and management company, that engages in a variety of land development and construction projects ranging from single-family residential to large scale mixed use and multifamily communities.
TM conducted user testing in order to identify any areas that could be made more effective for the user on edwardrose.com and improve the site’s overall UX (user experience).
What kind of user testing was completed?
We started with a "5 Second Test" where the user is shown a website's homepage for 5 seconds. Then, they're asked what they remember about the page and what they think the website is used for.
Next, users are guided through specific tasks in order to test out website features and functionality.
All of the user testing sessions are recorded, so we can gather audio, written, and visual feedback from each user. This helps us evaluate the experience each user had in its entirety.
How were the users selected for the testing?
TM uses software to select users that will participate in each user test. Specific demographic information like age, salary range, and gender is chosen, as well as technology scenarios (connection speed, browser, and type of device). This aided in defining a target audience that is most suited for Edward Rose's market.
Which pages were the focused of user testing?
For this particular user testing session, TM determine that focusing on the homepage, search functions, aesthetics of the site overall, using filters to narrow search results, and testing property pages would provide the most useful, as these are the most commonly-trafficked portions of the website. These locations and questions are also what most affect conversions within the site, so it was a good place to start.
What questions were asked of users?
In order to simulate how a user would interact with the website, we instructed users to "Imagine you are looking to move, and you're searching for apartments to rent." We then constructed detailed questions and asked each user to accomplish tasks and answer questions either in verbal or written response. A few examples of these include:
- Without leaving the homepage, describe what you think you can do here. [Verbal Response]
- Search for a place to live in your area. Review the descriptions, specifications, floor plans, and availability, and provide verbal feedback on how easy or hard it was to find this information. [Verbal Response]
- Navigate to (specific URL) and find which floor plans are available at The Landings. Contact The Landings to inquire about one of their units. [Visual & Written Response]
After users went through various search scenarios and additional questions, they received an exit exam with questions much like these:
- What, if anything, frustrated you most about the site?
- If you had a magic wand, how would you improve the site?
What were the overall takeaways from this User Test?
Upon evaluating all of the feedback, we identified three core improvement areas:
- Ensuring that it was clearer as to where Edward Rose & Sons had properties: Many testers were attempting to search for property outside of where ERS had property, which was yielding an error.
- Improve the individual property page experience: Upon utilizing and entering, our testers identified several confusing placements and wordings which deterred their ability to complete our tasks with ease.
- Update the photo gallery: Because of the way that many of the users attempted to utilize the gallery, it was clear that we needed to reimagine the way it is displayed and operates.
In addition to existing website critique, we also had several users provide additional suggestions from their own experiences elsewhere, which was a bonus resulting in further improvement opportunities with new features.
- Choose the appropriate age range, income level, and technical knowledge for user testing
- Identify specific goals and actions for user testing
- Craft appropriate questions and direct users to specific portions of the Edward Rose & Sons website
- Recount main takeaway points and make website improvement suggestions based on results
- Implement user testing suggestions based off test results
- Craft clear button CTA's and improve button placement
- Enhance the map search results page
- Redesign the "available units table" for clearer understanding
- Improve search functionality and provide clearer search results
What changes did TM make on the Edward Rose & Sons website as a result of user testing?
In combination with ideas procured from the user's actions (not just what they were saying), we compiled an extensive list of improvements that we suggested be made. Some of these included:
- Created a "My Favorites" functionality, which would allow users to keep track of properties that they like, and re-visit them upon returning to the site at a later date.
- Redesigned the Floor Plans tab on property pages. We combined two existing tables together and listed how many available units were related with each layout. Completed using a collapsible accordion-style addon, this improvement made clear which units were available, which units were on a waitlist, and which units were not available at the moment.
- Updated Call-To-Action (CTA) clarity and verbiage, such as how to contact Edward Rose corporate, how to inquire about a specific property, and how to apply for an available unit. Each of these actions were highlighted by writing clear CTA copy for each button and improving button placement.
- Improved the search results page. When a property wasn’t found within a specific mile radius, we needed to clearly explain why (e.g. Edward Rose & Sons does not currently serve that state).
Overall User Testing Feedback
The Edward Rose & Sons user testing was very insightful and brought to light some common user pain points that could be easily addressed, but that required the insight of actual users. Not only were we able to outline some new areas of improvement, but user testing also reinforced that edwardrose.com as a whole provides an aesthetically pleasing UX and disseminates information to users in an easy-to-understand and organized fashion.
Most of the feedback TM received from conducting user testing was positive, and each task that TM outlined for users was understood and accomplished with little to no confusion. Even though there were a few universal pain points for the majority of users, each gave an inside look into necessary site enhancements.
Redesigned Homepage Search Experience
Based on feedback that we received, we updated the initial experience of the homepage so that the banner was cleaner, and the search was more focused and clear.