After seeing success developing the website for new homes platform New Home Finder and working alongside home builders Strata and Keepmoat Homes; we recently turned our construction sector
experience towards improving the Help To Buy NEYH digital offering.
The North East, Yorkshire & Humberside (NEYH) division of the government backed Help To Buy Scheme challenged us with the redesign and build of their website, but this was no ordinary web development job. Given the nature of the Help To Buy offering and the huge diversity of individuals it can benefit, as well as the need for both home builders and home buyers to effectively use the site, our project focus from day one was usability, usability, usability.
Properly Importing Properties
It became clear early on in the project that there was a strong correlation between the usability available for the home builders themselves and the user experience that could then be delivered to potential Help To Buy candidates.
Essentially, the more detailed, informative and accurate the property listings on the Help To Buy NEYH website were, the more satisfied the end user would be with the search results delivered to them. This led to us leveraging the Kentico Content Management System (CMS) so we could develop 3 different ways for a property development to be listed on the new site.
Through The CMS
Building the new Help To Buy NEYH website on the Kentico CMS provided a full suite of content editing tools which staff could easily use to create new property documents. This therefore provided the first and simplest way to add a new property or development to the Help To Buy website.
Through The Developer Portal
By taking advantage of Kentico’s form functionality and simple login features, we were also able to build a developer portal, which allows the home builders to create a new property document by completing the various fields included in a detailed form submission. This is the second method of updating the Help To Buy NEYH website and again the usability is relatively simple.
Through A Property Feed Integration
However, these first two methods do rely on human interaction with the website in order to update the information it includes. For a business to business audience, like the home builders Help To Buy relies on for their stock of property, this creates a drain on their internal resource, taking up valuable time and effort. To solve this problem, we developed a third and final way to update the Help To Buy NEYH website: using property feed integrations.
For the feed integration, we used Kentico’s scheduled tasks functionality to import properties automatically, on a daily basis. This also ensures the properties on the Help To Buy website are managed in real time, with a new property document being created for new items in the feed, and existing property documents being either updated or removed from the site, if the item doesn’t appear in the feed when the next update occurs.
Custom tables have also been leveraged to report on the number of properties that are added, removed or changed on the site after the feed integration is run each day, and the global event handling functionality ensures that the same code is used regardless of how the property documents were created, keeping the site code streamlined and well optimised for search engines by reducing page load speeds.
So What Does This All Mean For UX?
Not only, does the feed integration make life easier for the home builders listing their development with Help To Buy NEYH, it also ensures prospective buyers are seeing the latest property listings.
This has two major impacts on the user experience these prospective buyers have on the site. First, they are only viewing properties which are actually available for sale, because the daily feed update ensures no properties contain information that’s more than 24 hours old.
This therefore reduces the chance for a buyer to invest time and interest in a property development or house type that’s no longer available, which can be a key usability issue with manually updated listings.
Second it guarantees regular fresh content, encouraging users to revisit the site time and time again as they continue their property search, which has the added SEO benefits of increasing on site engagement metrics and encourage search engines to keep revisiting the site for indexing.
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