A Wee Review of Property Websites

My family used to have an awesome cottage by the sea in South West Scotland and I was saying to my girlfriend how much I wanted to live by the sea and she was all like “I want to live in the forests, mountains and lakes”. Well, to hell with her!

Anyway, my testing case is “I want to see if there are any properties in the area of Rockcliffe in South West Scotland for sale and view details about that property”.

I am going to use two large websites for comparison: Zoopla and S1 Homes, both of which have poured bazillions into UX.



That’s cool; nice image, big search box. I can just type in my location and away we go!


It looks like there are no properties in Rockcliffe but there are some in Dalbeattie and Colvend fairly close by…HANG ON WTF is Kilcreggan doing there? That’s north of Glasgow! Maybe 90 miles away!!!.

Hmm, let’s go back to the homepage and run that search again.


Oh dear. I guess property moves fast down in South West Scotland eh? But seriously, something has gone a bit wrong. Ah well, I may as well comment on the UX of the list seeing as I’m here.

First of all, the ordering seems a bit odd: Dumfries is closest but Gretna is nearly England so I’m not sure how they are working it out. And I really need to be able to visualise everything on a map but I can’t see anywhere to do that.

Right, sod it. I’m going to run the search again.


Now there are 11? Maybe those buyers got sick of those houses real fast!

On a serious note, I’ve executed the same search about 20 times and it’s – to use a highly technical term – completely fucked.

Back to the listing view. And because I was running the search loads, I’ve gone back to 0 results again .


The design is a little bit busy and some things I can’t possibly do: how can I put something on a ‘shortlist’ or ‘watch’ without knowing more about it?

I like the filters down the left so let’s try a few of those to include properties 20 miles from Rockcliffe.


Except I can’t. I can include ‘Nearby areas’, whatever that means. OK, nearby areas it is.


It’s lucky I know the area well, otherwise I wouldn’t know where half these places are. God help anyone not familiar with the region.

After clicking Add Areas To Search I expected the list to update itself.

Which it totally didn’t.


I’ll hit Search for you then!

Success! 30 Properties vaguely close to Rockcliffe!


But I still need to visualise where these guys are. I notice there is a ‘Show results on map’ button placed in the very bizarre location above Search. WTF.



After a couple clicks I find this house.


It’s in need of a refurb but it’s cheap for the area so I click on More Details.


This is cool. I can look up lots of extra information about the property such as where it is etc. However, I noticed an interaction inconsistency: when you click on Map & Schools, the extra info appears below the image but when you click on Floor Plan you get the info in a modal.

12.PNGBelow the image


I found this annoying and it interrupted my experience a wee bit.

But I like this property as it’s near Rockcliffe and could be a really good investment so I’m going to add it to a Watch list.


Can you guess what happens?


I can see why I have to sign up but would prefer if the website just remembered my watch list based on cookies or something. Let’s hit Sign up then.


Bit complex, but not the end of the world. On hit Sign up again I get:


That’s actually pretty cool. The system remembered I was in a modal and updated it. I was half expecting to be booted off to the homepage or somewhere. So credit is due here. Anyway, I don’t want to do anything else so I’m going to click No Thanks.


And my property has been added to my watch list and that ends my review of S1 Homes.



Nice clean homepage although it lacks the cute picture S1 Homes had.

Let’s see if Zoopla can get me a house in or near Rockcliffe!


It sure can!

But I need to visualise where these properties are. I notice there is a map option 12. So let’s see what that does.


That’s super cool. And I can even redefine the map by dragging pins around to get more properties nearby.


What’s great about this interaction is if there is more than one property under a pin it doesn’t zoom the map to delineate the results (like S1) it lists them in a modal when you click the pin.


I like the look of this 2 bed detached house so let’s have a look.


Nice design and pretty clean and when I click on the tabs above the image the system loads up all the information in the same place.


As in S1, let’s add the property to some kind of watch list. I note there is a ‘Save to favourites’ button.


On click:


-1 for making me register but +1 for Sign in with Facebook.

But oh noze:


OK, let’s register.


-1 for Confirm email. Christ I hate this retarded pattern.

Clicking Register:


The system hasn’t remembered I hit Save to Favourites so that’s another -1.

I’ll just do that myself then.


And that ends my review of Zoopla.


I don’t know what went wrong with S1homes and I hope they get their search functionality up and running soon. I think a round of user testing would work wonders because it would show them how folks search for properties and what controls they need to assist that search.

Zoopla made finding a property very easy and had some neat filtering techniques; combined with clean design and consistent UI, Zoopla is my preference.

But what do you think? Been looking for a property lately? What was your experience? Hit me up on Twitter.


2 thoughts on “A Wee Review of Property Websites

  1. the problem with S1 was the map view filter was miles away from the list so you never saw it. And GSPC has loads of filters.

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