Well it is here and MyHome has launched to much fanfare and I am sure allot of backslapping, so what is it like, how easy is it to use, is it the killer site many have promised?
First thoughts: No, not even close, open up the champagne REA and Fairfax, because my immediate thought is this is a dud. I am writing this as I use it, because I think the majority of Australians (agents and consumers) will make up their mind very quickly.
Well my first thought was oh dear me, what a poor excuse for a real estate portal. after all of this time, you would have thought that they would have used a professional interface designer. It really does look like something that was purchased for $50 from a template store.
I cannot express how disappointed I am with this. It really does look tacky. I am sorry but I am really, really disappointed in the look of it….
Deeper: Well it does get better, the search box is excellent and you have range of features here, type in a postcode and a drop list of suburbs appear. You have a number of options for search both from a traditional sense, a map and also an excellent regional search.
Ok, second complaint, I tried to click on Myhome logo to go back home and it does not work! Geez this frustrates me, 6 months of development and this. Just plumb dumb. It takes 2 minutes to do this for the developers….and it immediately takes away from the user experience. Now I am trying to get back to home page and I can’t. I have to clear my cache and reload the page.
Now guess what – I wrote this long article and because I had to clear my cache I lost the article (see I can be dumb too)……………..
Okay, back to writing this over again (less inspired now). After clicking on ‘search’ the results load blazingly fast – excellent work from the developers here. The first thing noticed (apart from the tawdry interface) was a little blue icon which reads “buy now for $399 pw*”, this is a great little feature but it does nothing. However maybe they are waiting for a partner? This is what I called associated 3rd party advertising and what all portals should take note of, users accept advertising that actually enhances out experience. The only fault with this is it does nothing – which sort of renders it a little less than useful.
You also can refine your view of search results from three different views which is kind of neat, although again the default view is easily the best. You can also save results as a PDF and the PDF actually looks great – another excellent feature.
My Scrapbook: The my Scrapbook feature is easy to use, but why they ask you to be registered when the success of this site depends on making this simple for the user from the start. I think a smart choice using web 2.0 technologies would be that you could drag and drop the listings into the scrapbook and then print or email the list to yourself . Something to think about.
View Listing: Again this is lighting fast to load but again it falls down miserably with the layout of the page, the agents contact box is right down the bottom, the images moving across the page are annoying, also the buy for button does nothing.
There is nothing new here and the layout is terrible, the photo gallery is stock standard stuff- although again it does load quite quickly. Unfortunately I am left with a sour taste in my mouth, I still cannot get back to the home page!!! No logo link, no home button, what are they thinking?
It seems like the only people who worked on this are developers, after 6 months of development this is simply not good enough, it is a 2 minute job and shows the site has been rushed without any testing, at least the Adore site from Fairfax actually had a home button.
Mapping: Calling anyone who knows anything about the Internet and mapping? Why didn’t they get the guys from Spyk (or anyone with half a brain) in to advise on this, the map is tiny and even when it says view full screen map it only loads in a small window, the little icons look okay but the slider is straight out of some kind of el-cheapo design school.
Other Pages: This site is simply terrible as far as interface design goes, I am appalled that this actually was allowed to go live. There are so many things wrong with this it is just not funny, you cannot click on images and have to go through the menu links on the left and even then they do not work all the time. I am not even going to bother with the other pages other than…..I thought if the site was delayed it was because they were fine tuning a killer, not wanting to release it unless it was perfect. Ugly sites are fine as long as they are easy to use and this site is definitely not easy to use.
MyHome TV: This page loads a slick TV commercial from a slick presenter. The MyHome TV show will go to air each Saturday Morning at 10.00am, right about the time when any home buyer is inspecting a property and every single real estate agent is either opening a home or selling/leasing one. The scheduling is poor at best and shows a lack of understanding of the market.
Perhaps the show will have to cut its teeth here and if it shows promise it will get moved to a better timeslot. As I look through the TV list (I rarely watch commercial TV any more) I can see at least 20 programs that could be culled or boned if I were to use the more popular vulgar terminology. Maybe it might get squeezed back if 9 also get CSI Idaho? I hope the show is a good one as the industry needs a property show. I hope the show is not full of people spruiking their own products and services and is actually informative. The ad makes some pretty bold claims and being a commercial show I have some reservations. The girl presenter does look the part and speaks very well.
Arghhhhhhhh, I tried to leave that page and try something else and the movie reloaded and now I cannot get out………………………………frustrating – to say the least!
Finally: They really should have tested this site properly, you can understand a small company making these basic mistakes, but PBL? I really think this site is let down so much by poor interface design. There is no home button on the site and this is a catastrophic oversight.
Why didn’t they contract a professional interface designer? This site has to make a great first impression, yet it looks cheap and nasty and has some serious usability issues. The site needs a major overhaul and the people that created this are not up to it, development wise they have done some great things, but from a user and a design perspective this is a train wreck.
Interface Design 101: Interface design is not about making things pretty, yes that can be a benefit, but what interface design is all about is controlling the flow of information, making sure each step in the users process is simple and effective.
The Home Page: Cost $2000: I would clean this up and use colours that are mild, I would also control the elements so everything that can load, does so in a neat professional and clear manner.
Search Results Page: $3000.00: All you need to do is design each page for each property type, so that no matter what data is loaded, it looks clean and professional, everything has a place. If content is not loaded then that space is empty and still looks clean.
Property Page: Cost $5000.00: This is the tougher page, you have to clearly understand what makes the site a long term success. What you need to do is lay out a page as if everything was included (all the possible data) and then give the data defined sections for layout. Headline, Description, Land, Building Size, Price, Address, Photos, Plans etc.
Next what you do is give each set of data an order of importance balancing the site users needs with that of the agent. You workshop this page until you have a nice clean area. agents getting results leads them to go from a free listing agent to a paid listing agent.
Yes Finally: All in all this site has so much potential sitting there – but it is let down through a lack of testing and a clueless interface design. Every single person that visits this site will not immediately think hmmm, looks good, and for 90% of the population that only knows the basics, this will frustrate them endlessly.
The TV show starts on Saturday and they better get a hell of allot right by then…..This is my second write up of this site and this one was allot nicer than the first….
Simon Baker and Fairfax can sleep well tonight – I can almost see them now turning gently in their beds with a littler smirk on their faces.
Footnote: The backend code use Neilson Netratings so it will be interesting to track this months after the initial launch and to see how many people return….