I’ve been a big advocate for usability testing throughout my entire digital analytics career. I’ve seen usability tests help top brands identify and correct the problem spots in their navigation. I’ve administered those tests in order to gauge emotional reactions to email templates, brand logos, and homepage designs. So I did what any digital analytics professional would do when my home was not selling as fast as I wanted it to in a hot housing marketing – I tested it.

The first consideration was to eliminate any test bias. I wanted to understand potential buyer’s reactions to my home listing. To prevent them from providing feedback that was diluted to spare my feelings, I designed the test to make them think they were testing functionality of Zillow.com. I had them walk through the process of finding home listings using Google, then had them land on Zillow.com, and search for homes that just happened to be in my zip code, at my price range. Some of them looked at my home, and some didn’t; but I got enough information from the usability testing to let my agent know that we needed to make some adjustments.

(I didn’t pick Zillow at random from all of the different real estate websites. I went to Compete.com to see which real estate site got the most traffic. I wanted users to test on the one they were most likely to visit naturally.)

The key findings from the usability study:

  • PHOTOS ARE MOST IMPORTANT. Photos should be high-res, have ample lighting, and the more photos – the better.
  • Tax estimates or “Zestimates” freak people out on the first listing then look at, they they realize that all home prices are significantly over the estimate.
  • Everyone loves a map, school info, and Google street views.
  • Anything in a listing that is n/a or Unknown causes distrust and concern.
  • No one trusts agents, or anything they write.

Here’s a video clip of one of the tests:

What were the results after making recommended changes to the listing? We’ve tripled our showings overnight. Got ideas for how you might apply usability testing to your business? Send me a note and let’s talk.