If you visit an average apartment rental website you’ll often see a search feature prominently displayed on their home page or featured in one of their navigation bars. Search tools can be a great way for customers to sift through a large amount of listings to find their desired criterion, but in some instances they may act negatively towards the overall customer experience. In fact, they may be overkill for most websites.
The worst thing that can happen from a customer’s point of view is to arrive at a null result. This is frustrating and it also seems like the landlord doesn’t have anything that meets the desired needs. For this reason alone I caution all of our clients from over-using a search tool. In fact, if our client is not dealing with a large quantity of rental stock then we advise not to use a search tool.
A prime example was our project for Greenwin – www.greenwin.ca. We developed their corporate website and came up with a unique way of addressing their search needs.
Greenwin has a lot of properties in Toronto, but fewer properties in their secondary cities. Although this meant that any renters looking in Toronto could benefit from a search system, the renters’ experience in other cities could be hindered by its implementation.
So, we chose to only use the search tool for their Toronto listings.
Renters in Toronto can now sort through Greenwin’s listings in Toronto using an innovative, interactive search tool that allows them to see the search results changing in real time, while renters in other cities can simply sort through a list of properties without needing to search.
Remember that the main goal of the design of your website should be to provide the renter the best user experience possible. Just because you could have a search tool on the homepage does not mean that you should have one. You really have to think about how your customer will navigate the website and if a search is beneficial to them.