CLIENT: Fairfax Media
Achievement: UX DESIGN OF A responsive Website
Note: this Website was nominated as a finalist for the 2015 AIMIA awards in the category “Best online Website or service – Entertainment and Media”.
‘Commercial Real Estate’ (CRE) has long been successful in its printed form but has struggled to become a reference point online. When I joined the team, Fairfax Media was about to sign new commercial agreements with the 4 major international commercial agencies. This deal would secure a sustainable stream of revenue for the next few years and give CRE the opportunity to compete seriously with ‘Real Commercial’, the leading real estate website. Given the importance of what was at stake, this project wasn’t a simple redesign. It was about completely rethinking the product experience to make it the best in the Australian market.
We began by running an online survey to determine the current user frustrations and the potential opportunities for improvement. In parallel, I had access to the existing Marketing segments which divide users into the following groups:
- Users looking to lease/buy commercial real estate for their businesses
- Agents who list and monitor real estate on the site
All of this information was helpful to get a good idea of who our users are, but I felt that I needed to do some face-to-face interviews to obtain more user insights. I didn’t have enough time to run qualitative interviews as well as run user testing sessions, so I decided to combine both approaches at once.
In order to prepare these research sessions, I began exploring potential layout options by sketching. After a few iterations with the Product Manager, I started to build an Axure prototype and created three different options.
- The first option was very map-centric
Click to view option 1
- The second option was more editorialised, whilst maintaining a strong focus on the map
- The third option was a more traditional approach, where the map is only shown in the property details
I ended up meeting 7 users and spent the first half of each session doing some qualitative research and the second half doing user testing. Each session lasted 1.5 hours, and whilst they were fairly intense for both the users and myself, they were worth it.
Click to view an extract of the Research report
The main outcomes were:
- users really liked having an integrated experience whereby they can run a search, and view results and property details on the same page
- there was a clear differentiation in user behaviours depending on their goals. As an example, someone who is looking to open a restaurant is more likely to browse the map to look for the best location as opposed to an investor who tends to focus on the list view.
The next step was to move to a mid-fidelity prototype that ended up combining the best of each option. The map search remained at the heart of the experience.
I was then pulled over to another project and had to hand over to one of my UX colleagues to run a second phase of user testing which confirmed that we were going in the right direction.
I came back to the project a couple of months later and took over. The implementation phase was well underway but problems started to surface, the sort of problems that can’t really be spotted on a prototype. I decided to step back and get some perspective by conducting a usability and experience review of the build.
Click to view an extract of the UX review report
Afterwards, the Product Manager, Visual Designer and I started to iterate until we had fixed all the issues.