Trend Setters VS Trend Imitators

I remember about 3 or 4 years ago I was searching for property to rent and being a user-experience individual I wanted a website that did not have unnecessary content and ridiculous methods on finding specific area/ property.

Behold a new approach had been adapted by a property company and a digital industry trend setter by the name of Private Property. The website had tackled the issue of locating specific regions and property. I had always found the website property sitemap to be very useful due to the layout, very delightful may I add, granted with the sprint approach the website had one feature today then a new one next day. Then there was a day the search call2action was implanted, BOOM http://www.privateproperty.co.za/.

They had come up with a way to actually make it easier for a user to search for what they were looking for and where they were looking for it. They had managed to eliminate a lot of cognitive and rudimentary functionalities and unnecessary call2actions that a lot of websites are suffering from now and in the early years.

They knew that the sole functionality of their website was/is to showcase homes and not what accolades they have. They saw a gap in the market where if they focused more on micro moments a user has, the traffic to their website and interaction/click through would improve.

Source: Landing page screenshot of http://www.privateproperty.co.za/

That is when they introduced the search button as a call2action! As simple as that sounds it was/is a revolutionary move on their part and even though there might not be stats to showcase, one can see why people would flock to the website. Delightful easy to use and goal driven website.

Fast forward 3 or 4 years later I see a lot of reputable brands trying so hard to imitate what Private Property has done.

What I found was just bad, tacky and clunked up websites where someone in marketing was sitting making decisions on how “ I want our website to look like Private Property” and in all fairness this is what they got, unfortunately for them that is about it, they got a imitation, nothing more, nothing less. The attention to functionality and experience were not part of their planning as it seemed. They forgot to actually take the user into consideration.

Source: Landing page screenshot of http://www.rawson.co.za/

This is the same clunky website with a search call2action and that is about it. A user is better off browsing through the website hoping to find what you are looking for. The card layout style itself has a bad effect purely on alignment; to the eye it is just not delightful. It goes back to how major players are not trend followers but trend imitators.

Source: Landing page screenshot of http://www.pamgolding.co.za/

Same with Pam Golding someone in there refused to just do an imitation of private property and actually added a few more functionality but unfortunately not so delightful.

As much as I can write on how badly the imitations are I can only blame the user-experience team or individuals who handled these projects. Granted they are not as bad as they seem but it shows the lack of research and attention to details on user requirements/ target audience. Through the website I saw no proper structures of good design habits such as cue, routine and reward. Then there is the overuse of call2actions which confuses users on what exactly is the goal for the website, is it to showcase “our awards or do an advanced search” as if the normal search call2action only showcases the plain boring broken houses.

Dear user-experience individual, it is your duty first to educate then implement, otherwise you sit in a room where you are the one taking instructions on how to undertake the project instead of leading and showing why this works. Do research, follow basic practices and learn how to follow trends and not imitations.

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