How it started
PropertyNow is an Australian service that helps homeowners sell and rent their properties without paying exorbitant prices for a real estate agent. They’ve been around for 15 years and have thousands of positive reviews on Trustpilot and Product Review.
Their success has drawn attention, and over the past few years, many competitors have emerged. There are dozens of identical companies providing the same service fighting for market share.
PropertyNow has experimented with videos, advertisements, rebrands, lead magnets, email sequences, and a range of other sales-focused mechanisms to try and outmanoeuvre their competition. These approaches have been moderately successful, but one piece at the core of their offering continued to drag their conversion rates.
Their website design was unapologetically outdated and missed the mark in several critical areas. The PropertyNow team was well aware of the problem but wasn’t sure what changes would impact their customer’s experience.
That’s where we entered the conversation. Our mission with this project was simple. Make the site look modern, clean and attractive while improving the conversion rate.
The redesign had to be achieved while staying roughly within the realms of their existing branding (logo, colours, typography). The copy needed a total rewrite to focus on the customer benefits.
Before we jump into what changes we made, it’s worth doing a quick analysis of the problems we found across the website. Most of these problems are easy to ignore because, in isolation, they’re insignificant. Collectively, they cause an untidy user experience and affect the website’s effectiveness.
We’re not going to go through the entire website or even the whole homepage. The top fold does an excellent job of showcasing the most critical design and conversion-related issues.
The image above is numbered with the most critical problems.
1, 2, 3 & 4 - Multiple calls to action
Effective web pages should have a single call to action. There are exceptions to this rule, but in general, the more options a user has, the more indecisive they become. Think about how hard it is to pick something to eat off a menu with a hundred selections, compared to a menu that only has three.
The PropertyNow homepage was asking the user to “Sign Up” or “Get Started” or calculate their savings and “Get Started” or “Learn More”. When faced with different options, users tend to default to doing nothing.
5 - Poorly organised header
The website header is a critical navigation element. Its organisation and visual spacing help the user find what they’re looking for and get there quickly.
The PropertyNow header did a poor job of this, besides looking messy. The navigation items weren’t arranged in a way that was easy for the user to understand at a glance.
Like most companies that think their branding is the most critical element, the logo takes too much space. Logos serve an essential function, but they don’t drive conversion rates and shouldn’t claim screen real estate that PropertyNow could better use for functional elements.
6 - Unbelievable images
Internet users are savvy and can spot a poorly Photoshopped image from a mile away. It’s a bad look for a brand and breeds scepticism.
This hero image doesn’t add anything to the messaging of the page. What it’s trying to say is “we’re happy that we sold our home”, but what it says is, “We’re two smiling stock photography models”.
7 - Unclear headline
The website headline is arguably the single most crucial element on any website. Its job is to tell a visitor in as few words as possible what the business does.
At this point, there’s no need to sell the benefits of the service. A new visitor that is entirely unfamiliar with the business and service just wants to know what they’re looking at. Once they understand, then they’ll continue to read on.
If the headline isn’t self-explanatory and the user doesn’t know what they’re looking at within a second or two of checking out the top fold, they’ll probably bounce.
“Sell or rent your property & save thousands in commissions” isn’t the worst headline, but it doesn’t tell the user what PropertyNow do. The user has no idea that PropertyNow helps them sell their own home to avoid unnecessary agent commissions, which incidentally would be a much better headline.
By the time we were ready to start designing, we had extensively researched thousands of reviews, looking for clues as to what struggles PropertyNow had helped customers overcome. This research made for some excellent headlines and a ton of powerful benefits.
Most service-based websites will follow a pretty regular structure, but it’s always easier to write the copy first and build the design second. Reworking the design to fit copy after the fact is difficult; similarly, sometimes, too many words are required to look good in a section that is already designed.
With the content prepared and laid out in a logical flow, we moved on to the first draft:
We’d intentionally dialled down the colours and the amount of content crammed into the first fold. We had cleaned up the navigation and simplified the calls to action. Where the original design had used stock images, we tested out actual images of customers.
The reception for this design was mostly positive. Theoretically, we had ticked all the boxes, but after talking with PropertyNow at length, we discovered they wanted to move further away from their original style.
For the second draft, we went for a cleaner, more modern SaaS-style design. This approach ditched the idea of using actual photos of customers and back to stock imagery. But instead of using generic, poorly designed photos, we introduced high quality, well-composed images.
The second revision intentionally moved further away from the PropertyNow branding. We reduced the colours to mainly white, with a handful of the primary blue featuring on buttons and highlighted elements.
The only thing missing from this design was more supporting copy to answer some of the common questions customers seemed to stumble over.
The finishing touch was adding a Frequently Asked Questions section. FAQ modules can be an excellent, compact way to overcome many objections in the purchasing process. Our go-to approach in this situation is an accordion section that neatly packs the questions away until a user clicks on them.
How it’s going
The PropertyNow design has wrapped up and is ready for development. This project is one of the rare cases where we’re not following up on the design efforts by building the website. Since the PropertyNow team have in-house developers, they have taken responsibility for this step.
We’re excited to watch this project progress. With the careful research that went into rewriting the content and the clean and focused design, we’re expecting to see a decent spike in conversion rate over the coming months.