Recent news that Tesco and Google may be gearing up to launch property websites could be a wakeup call for letting and estate agents across the UK and can only be good news for the user experience in this sector.
Sites like Rightmove.co.uk are already pretty well established in this space so building market share won’t be a breeze. However, both Tesco and Google are trusted names in the UK and Google already offers property search in the US and Australia, so it should be reasonably easy to port this offering across. Tesco has tried to do this in the past, but had to pull out due to legal challenges from estate agents, but now the Office of Fair Trading has recommended reforms to this industry which will allow the entry of players like Google and Tesco.
Tesco seems to be taking advantage of this by launching a website called iSold which lets people sell their home for a flat £999 fee. Moves like this have the potential to revolutionise the way property is sold in the UK and estate agent take-up may not be a crucial factor, as it could pave the way for increasing numbers of private sales.
Concerns about hidden problems and the plain unfamiliarity with the process tend to be the barriers to private sales at the moment. But the credibility and trust that may come with big names of Tesco and Google, along with detailed guidance for sellers, could alleviate these issues. Either way, user experience will be key and Google will likely focus on this. As a result, others may eventually have to focus on this as well to continue to compete.
If these developments take place, house buyers/sellers and renters could benefit from not only greater choice at lower costs but hopefully a higher bar set for user experience. Making selling and buying homes easier is not just a great thing for consumers but may well act as an instrument for a quicker economic recovery.
Photo credit: I See Modern Britain via Flickr / Creative commons
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We published our latest report yesterday looking at the state of play within the online financial price comparison sector. The report, entitled Future comparisons: What’s next for price comparison websites, is now available for free download from this site. We decided to look at financial price comparison sites as this sector has been very visible so far this year, with all the major players doing extended advertising campaigns:
- Confused.com has been pushing themselves as offering a user-friendly process
- GoCompare has continued to push their (rather bizarre) 5* rating system
- MoneySupermaket has used Peter Jones to sell their wares
- uSwitch has lost the gospel choir and opted to push their new ‘uSwitch uSave uSmile’ strapline
- CompareTheMarket continues to push their CompareTheMeerkat offering (you have to check this out if you haven’t already seen it)
Despite these high profile advertising campaigns and the global recession, visitor numbers fell sharply in the early parts of this year. Due to this, and it being such an incredibly competitive industry, we thought we’d investigate the online financial price comparison sector.
Our report looks at past trends and how the comparison site market currently stands, as well as making robust recommendations for future developments. Trust, loyalty and user experience will be key to future success for all of these websites, with a particular need to focus on:
- Presentation of results
- Filter and sorting on the results page
- Retrieval of quotes
- Explaining how the site works
You can read all about this and more in the Future comparisons: What’s next for price comparison websites – download it today (it’s free!).
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Yahoo! is rolling out its new homepage and it’s been produced with great fanfare – Yahoo’s consumer experiences head Tapan Bhat said:
“It marks the beginning of a renaissance of Yahoo, a renaissance where every pixel matters”
So – is it any good?
The biggest change is the ability to customise/personalise the left hand bar, putting in your favourite sites. This then allows you to hover over each and a pop-up appears showing you the most recent updates on the site without going to the page. This is both a great and annoying feature. The pop-ups are useful and saves time, yet they appear too easily and it’s too hard to get them to GO AWAY! They appear with a mouse over, but to get rid of them you must select a ‘close’ icon in the far corner. Whilst they’re up they completely cover the rest of the page contents meaning you can’t see anything else until you close it.
There’s also a minor delay between the pop up’s appearance and the content populating in it, so for half a second or so you’re staring at an empty box. Why not only display once the pop-up contents are loaded?
The audience this is aimed at will already be aware of iGoogle (where you are able to personalise the whole page to a much greater extent). iGoogle also has the killer advantage – Google. No matter how good the homepage of Yahoo is, it will still force you to search using Yahoo. Google is by far the most popular search engine, and many people will be reluctant to switch. There must be a pretty compelling reason for someone to switch search engines. I don’t think this is it.
Yahoo will get stick for this update, the changes made may not be massive or groundbreaking, but they are significant. They do add to the experience of the site. It also ensures Yahoo’s less tech-savvy audience segment aren’t alienated.
It’s an improvement, just not a big enough one to change the declining fortunes of one of the Internet giants.