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For Rent Media Solutions™ asked this very question to its users by conducting a robust series of usability tests, with real apartment shoppers viewing eight different apartment listing Web sites including ForRent.com and its competitors. Usability testing is a technique used to evaluate a product by testing it on actual real users. A July 2008 MarketingSherpa.com study showed that highly engaged visitors have a conversion rate of about five percent, compared to about 0.2 percent of poorly engaged visitorsa 2500% difference. Did you know that Web users form first impressions of web pages in 1/20th of a second? 1 That is literally in the blink of an eye.“The world’s most powerful functionality will falter if users can’t figure out how to make it work.”2

In 2008 our Product Development Team videotaped users while navigating our site and our competitors’ sites to find out what worked and what didn’t work. They gathered comments and page ratings from OpinionLab, a third party leader in Voice of Customer (VoC) business intelligence. VoC plays a critical role in defining an organization’s ability to recognize and react quickly to shifting market forces and customer defined opportunities. Seventy five percent of web users admit making judgment about the credibility of an organization based on the design of its website.3 The Product Development Team surveyed direct email lists of consumers in ForRent.com’s demographic. In addition, they conducted in person interviews with people who were actively looking for apartments to get their opinions on their search experience. Throughout development, prototype testing was conducted.  We videotaped test users carrying out specific tasks on the proposed design of the new search. The purpose of this testing was to find design and functionality errors at an early stage. As a result, we learned that apartment shoppers felt they had very little control, could not maneuver through any of the eight sites tested and felt the sites did not produce relevant results.

We listened to users and redesigned our search functionality to eliminate their complaints and bring a “smarter search” experience for all. For Rent Media Solutions is proud to announce the launch of the all new Intuitive Search functionality and enhanced search results pages. These features are exclusive to ForRent.com. The intuitive search and enhanced search results pages give apartment seekers more control and more relevant results to help them have a “smarter search” experience.

Intuitive Search provides both “Exact” and “Close” matches, based on the user’s search criteria. These features give apartment shoppers more choices, intuitively providing them with results that are relevant to their needs. This means more exposure for your listings and a better experience for potential renters.

Watch the ForRent.com Intuitive Search video here for more information.

Source: 1 Behavior and Information Technology Journal, , 2 Garrett, J.J. (2003).  The Elements of User Experience: User-Centered Design for the Web.  New York: New Riders, pg. 14, 3 Research Summary from the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab. Stanford University.

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Assistant Vice President of Social Media for ForRent.com. Co-Author of Youtility for Real Estate. Speaker. Perpetual Hostess. Wine Lover. Wanderlust.


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