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In our industry, we make a big deal about having the best data, but consumers value something even more: a great user experience (UX) for real estate search. Following are some common mistakes that websites and apps make:

  1. Making it too easy to over-constrain the search. When a search presents users with too many fields, not only does it make the search process seem complicated, but it also makes it too easy for the user to end up with too few results, or no results at all. The most effective sites present users with a simple search form and then let them narrow their results on the results page.
  1. Giving users too many choices for next steps. The interfaces are often too crowded, or have a lot of advertisements. This results in user confusion and decreases the efficient use of the application. It’s essential to know what the most important thing is on each page, and what users are most likely to want to click in order to provide large, obvious links and actions, not wasting precious space on items that don’t take the user down the critical path.
  1. Showing every piece of information you have, just because you have it. This is very common in IDX and VOW displays. Even if you think it’s crucial to show everything, it’s important to highlight the listing content that’s meaningful to different users. For buyers, for example, that will be price, pictures, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, size and location.
  1. Not focusing enough on mobile. Make your mobile web experience as thoughtful and robust as your desktop experience. The best way to support this is by creating responsive web pages. Apps have their place, too. Either way, the mobile experience must offer strong features while respecting the constraints of the mobile platform.
  1. Asking for unearned trust. Don’t ask too much of the user before showing them the value of the site or app. Some sites or apps make the user accept location-sharing right away, force users to sign up right away, or make them agree to a big terms-of-use agreement right off the bat. Downloading an app or visiting a site doesn’t mean the user trusts you enough to agree to your requests. Ask for permissions as late in the process as you can. When possible, explain your need to request information before doing so.

It’s important to evaluate UX with end users early and often, and develop a plan for UX as early as possible—it’s always less expensive to plan design before software coding has begun. If you’re creating a real estate search app, you should involve user experience design experts in your design, while relying on industry specialists for industry knowledge. When it comes to creating great software and user experience, the right people at the right time in the process make all the difference.

Matt Cohen is chief technology officer at Clareity Consulting.

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