The Unconditional Blog

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34

We have been listening… and we have now made a key decision

Posted on: May 9th, 2010 | Filed in Featured, Website news

Announcement image croppedOne of the greatest benefits of extensively using social media in this business, is the ability to participate in the conversations surrounding our website and the real estate industry in general. This approach has been invaluable over the past week following the launch of the new realestate.co.nz website.

It has been invaluable for us to be able to share our development and to listen to the comments posted from users as well as our customers as to their reaction to using the new website for the first time.

In addition to these comments we have received a ton of emails, which have provided further direct feedback. We have been listening, and we will continue to listen to our users and customers as we are acutely aware that, as with all website in today’s networked world we are only one click away from oblivion.

The new website was developed after extensive research and feedback which assisted us in designing a website that could take us forward in offering a really great experience for finding a perfect home. The past week has shown us that this quest may not have been perfectly fulfilled in the new website. In fact it would appear that we have pushed too far, too fast.

I have therefore taken the decision today, that we will by the middle of next week reestablish the former website of Realestate.co.nz that will be familiar to you. We cannot be unresponsive to the feedback of the conversations with our users and customers.

This is in my view a pragmatic decision. We are committed to moving forward with the new website, however we are conscious that we may have taken a step too far and in so doing alienated some of our community.

We will be working in the immediate future to fix the technical issues that the new website faced. We will also be making some modifications and some enhancements to ensure the new site becomes a more intuitive migration from the current website. At some point in time, I believe it will be of value to provide an open-access view to the new website in a fully live “Beta” version in parallel to the current website and thereby allow direct feedback. This will also allow those members of the community who have been excited about the new website to use it in a fully functional manner.

I will maintain an open communication as ever through this blog, as well as direct communication with our customers.

As the saying goes “a week is a long time in politics” – that has certainly been true for the UK parliamentary candidates this week, for me and the rest of the team at Realestate.co.nz, this seems equally to be true that “a week is a very long time on the web!!”

Alistair Helm

CEO – Realestate.co.nz

Article Discussion

  1. Eileen Hansen says:

    At first I didn’t like the new website but now I find it much better to use. However it only works on my PC that has Windows7. My laptop with XP doesn’t load a lot of the information.

  2. I personally think that’s the wrong call… the sites do have some small bugs however overall I think they are exceptional in design and functionality.

  3. Alistair Helm says:

    Thanks for your input, I think we can grow from here, we have got a sense of what is right and what needs refinement. To be clear we are passionate and committed to the new site for the long term.

  4. Combine the best features of realestate.com.au and mcgrath.com.au and users would lap it up I reckon. I thought you may have rolled something like that out…but I guess it takes so long to roll out that too much changes during that time.

  5. Beverley says:

    Hooray! I am delighted, as I have not enjoyed trying to use the new site. The most irritating thing was how SLOW it was (using XP and Firefox).
    There was nothing wrong with the old site. My view is: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”

  6. Ben says:

    My last membership doesnt work anymore so am unhappy and lost my saved houses.

  7. ed says:

    I’m happy the old format is returning. I was checking 5 suburbs within a certain price range which was made cumbersome and time consuming with the new format. I had begun to research other providers.

  8. Linda says:

    I can’t seem to be able to access my saved properties :( Hope this will be restored soon.
    Can I suggest something? As a browser from Australia but at my first steps into looking into buying into Auckland (for an investment property), using your navigation requires a lot of local knowledge (i.e. knowing what regions cover which suburbs)… can you change it so a user can just type a suburb rather than go through the region hierarchy?

  9. Chris says:

    Pity, I tend to come after looking on other sites since I found the search/presentation very messy. This new look is a lot cleaner. Hopefully you can merge the best of all designs.

  10. Monique Grierson says:

    Try some market testing, it will give you some valuded insight, and I’m sure the feedback could have help you with these speed bumps. Good luck.

  11. John says:

    what does this mean for the rest of the other sites using this same format??

  12. Amelia says:

    I am still of two minds over new site. Not really a fan of the new layout. Doesn’t give much of a helicopter view, of listings like the old site. But there are a couple of nice functionalities.

  13. Tim Harris says:

    Alistair,
    I commend you on your willingness to listen to the feedback and take the bold decision to roll back to the previous version of the site, I am sure that this will produce a better site and user experience in the end and should help you win a lot of friends in the process – if only some politicians were prepared to be so open and take the brave decisions!!!
    Tim

  14. Lewis Winn says:

    “Too far, too fast” would be an accurate summary. After a week of using the new website on a daily basis, I have finally managed to get my head around it and it is a very powerful search tool. The average user is obviously not going to spend that much time working out how to use it. I look foward to the revised version when it comes online.

  15. John says:

    I am not sure what is happening with your web site but I can view it from work using XP but it errors out from home using windows 7, just will not load at all so hopefully when you bring the old sie back we will be able to see it

  16. Amie says:

    Good Im pleased the old version is coming back this new version is not at all user friendly! Sorry not a fan!

  17. Kathryn says:

    Thank goodness! The new site is so slow and freezes up all the time. I haven’t been able to do any searches since it went live. I love the look of it, and I can see where it’s heading, but I think it needs much more work and testing before going live.

  18. Brooke says:

    Thanks for listening.

  19. Carmen says:

    Pleased to hear the old site is to return. I’m all for progression, but have found this site extremely frustrating. Today I can’t even view properties for sale . It just wants to give me properties for rent.

  20. Jill says:

    Thank goodness you are going back. I have only started looking on here when I have had no luck at other sites. I get so frustrated with the search – I haven’t been able to search the specific district I want so have ended up having to plow (very slowly) through pages of properties in outlying districts to the one I actually wanted. I am looking forward to being able to use the site easily again. The look was good though – but from then on it was downhill.

  21. Stephen says:

    what a mistake to revert to the previous design. people don’t like change. you could have made finest website in the world and people would still have moaned. you should have stuck to a belief in the site, fixed the bugs and let people grow comfortable with it. I bet your website agency are crying their eyes out this morning.

  22. Brent Pheloung says:

    Congratulations on having the good sense & fortitude to revisit what was obviously a premature decision.

  23. Ian Grindle says:

    What a load of bollocks. Basically you launched a website not proven that didn’t work properly, compromised a whole lot of licensees with their clients, stalled our ability to give comprehensive CMA’s to prospective vendors, gave buyers a really poor search experience, and havn’t really even apologised within that ramble for this monumental error of judgement and we pay $225 a month per office for it. Apart from the fact the website ties itself up in knots, those slider controls are ridiculous. Apart from that it’s all good, crikey, that feels better!

  24. Alistair Helm says:

    Ian,

    I felt a response was in order as clearly you have significant issues. We accept responsibility for what has happened. We have made a decision and we are going through with this decision to return to the former site for a period that will allow us to fix some issues.

    As to launching a site that didn’t work – I would have to say that whilst as can be clearly seen from the open dialogue on this blog there were issues, the site is still delivering around 22,000 daily unique visitors down only slightly on historical averages. Whilst those that complain may be more vocal we have equally received favourable comments as to the unique features of the new site.

    I have received feedback from others in the industry that the new site had changed the way they used the site to do market reports. I am sorry that this has happened – at the same time it is very important to recognise that the site has not nor will it be built in the future to be a reporting tool for real estate agents. There are many services and applications within the industry that provide these as bespoke applications for agents.

    Our website is designed, built and tested for the users of the site as the primary audience – these people are seeking a tool to enable them to easily and efficiently find the property that best suits their wish list. This is the direction for the business established by the board of the company in 2006 when we launched the site, this has not changed in the intervening time.

    Again I am sorry that you feel we have failed to meet the expectations you have for us, we are, and will continue in the future to work to rebuild that performance in your mind as an important customer.

  25. Ian Grindle says:

    This is all very well and good Alastair, but when you liven up a site that is not capable of printing a brochure or flyer on a property for a ‘User’ on a single page (maybe 2) but 4- 6 pages you have to ask the question. Why?
    In terms of 22,000 visitors to the site daily, I would be more concerned about the ones you don’t hear from. They are the silent majority that vote with their feet. Just to bring you up to speed with the feedback from the industry you received that the new site has changed the way they use it to do market reports, the reality is the industry has had to stop using it because it’s not functioning! To be honest there are those in the industry working away daily on realestate with the clients,buyers and the properties and there are the others who direct those people through ownership or supplying services to the sales force such as yourselves. If you don’t think that licensee salespeople use realestate.co.nz for research when appraising or quoting then I’m afraid, your well mistaken.Ask around. It is a key tool if you want to give prospective vendors more complete information.
    Anyway, good luck with the re launch of the old site. We need it.

  26. Beverley says:

    It’s back! So quick, so easy, and it took just a few seconds to re-set my bookmarks for favourite searches. The look is clean and uncluttered, the selections simple and clear. Thanks, Alistair!

  27. ARGIL says:

    What a relief when I clicked on the realestate.co.nz by accident, as I had pretty much decided to abandon your site completely.
    Whoever talked you into that nightmare was probably big on social networking and pseudo management greek, and or an Indian IT consultant, but if it ain’t broke etc…

    The only thing that trademe still rules on though is the ability to search and save the search for an area and ‘surrounding’ areas. Invaluable timesaver.

  28. Tony White says:

    Hi
    I have not been following this discussion until today! I have sellers that purchased featured property listings on my recommendation that they would get significantly increased traffic. I usually report that to them using the report feature on realestate.co.nz. and have no problems. I noticed that traffic on the new site was down significantly, much more than I expected.
    Now that the old site is running volume is back up to “normal” levels. I don’t understand why and not sure what should advise sellers.

  29. Peter says:

    Learn the lesson of TradeMe.

    Let click data determine the design of your site, not graphics-led design. Track user activity and make peoples existing processes more and more efficient.

    Incrementalism wins.

  30. Alistair Helm says:

    Tony

    To your specific question and thanks for highlighting this. One of the technical issues was the capture and accuracy of that data – classic scenario of extensive testing suddenly went haywire in live – it is for this reason that we have no re-imported this data for the last 12 days back into the current site – so unfortunately you will see a “hole” in the data from 2nd May to 13th May.

    Our apologies for this – the judgment made was – better no data than misleading or inaccurate data.

  31. Alistair Helm says:

    As a general response, I am really pleased and appreciative for all this feedback. Be assured that as the title of this blog says we want to be seen as responsive and will engage to ensure the V2 of the new site better takes people forward with us.

    By the way the “new” site is live as a BETA at http://beta.realestate.co.nz should you be interested to review and comment.

  32. Tony says:

    Perhaps, when you are ready to re-launch the new site, you should place a dominant link along the lines of ‘Try our new platform’ on the old site and encourage a slow but sure ‘migration’. Then you could switch-over and shut down the old site when the acceptance level warrants it.

    This approach might be even better than ‘Taking your public with you’ as it would be more like ‘You going with your public’.

    Cheers.

  33. Alistair Helm says:

    Tony

    Sound advice – appreciate the interest and support.

  34. David Leggott Nelsonian says:

    One thing sorely missing from the new platform was that “drill down” factor.
    Hey I know it wasn’t missing – because if you looked you could find it – in fact from the landing page.
    BUT …it lacked a “certain” functionally” that the old ,& thankfully, the current site retains.
    Personally I like the visual stuff.
    To that end I would love a graphic of Z and the ability to drill down visually by REINZ regions.
    However forgiving that the old sites “drill down” ability was 300% in advance of what was advanced.

    Another consideration that perhaps. should be considered, was if I was looking at the “search – drill down” ability/capability from afar (as in O/S) then other than “geo “wise how the heck would I know where/what/how is Weatherlea from Nayland or Normanby?
    Example here – what would Google do?
    The platforms great – but let move to the next stage – please – and quickly.

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