New dsSearchAgent Features – Search Experience & Visitors
Andrew got everyone started with some of the major features we added to the IDX, but we were just getting started with everything we’ve added. Here’s Part 2 of our IDX update series.
Visitor Registration Experience
One of our major updates is a significant overhaul of the Visitor Registration process. The first thing we improved here were the “calls to action” prompting Visitors to register. What we’ve done is not only added relevant links, but also improved the language to lead the Visitor to register more organically. Instead of saying plain old “Register” our links say “Get listing updates, Save Favorites, and More!”. We’ve also added more and moved around the existing links to receive Email or RSS alerts to make these abilities more prominent.
Moving along with Visitor Registration, lets talk about the Login and Register forms themselves. To help conversion, we “prettied” up the Login and Registration forms. You can see in our screenshots that we tried to make sure the Visitor wasn’t ever lost when working with either task. With Registration we went a little farther, and we’re now giving the Visitor reasons, with screenshot examples, on why making an account is a good idea.
Additionally, with the Registration Form, you now have the ability to set it up as “two-stage”. What that means is we ask for only the most important fields in the “first” stage, then when the Visitor clicks [Continue] they are asked for more information. In this “two-stage” format, you also have the option to require filling in the second stage or not.
A few additional notes on Registration:
- We now save the Referring URL when a visitor registers
- You can remove all fields from Registration except Name, Email, Password
- You can choose between a single “Name” field or “First Name” and “Last Name” fields.
Also included in our mix of front-end features is a redesign of the Visitor’s Profile Section. The Profile is now situated on it’s very own page to improve usability. We spcifically improved the list for the Visitor’s Favorites, Viewed, and Noted Listings. In the Saved/Unsaved Searches section, we now allow the Visitor to edit the search criteria, and turn off email updates for specific Searches.
We had two obstacles to overcome on our map. The first was that we needed a good way to allow the Visitor to not only see, but also interact with listings “mapped” to the same location. The second obstacle was that it became clear a distinction between a Detached and Attached home was necessary.
When more than one listing is mapped to the same location we now do a few things. First we make the icon a little bit bigger, then we add a (+) to the top right of the marker. We do this to help visually explain to the Visitor that this marker is A. different, and B. more than one listing. Additionally, once you’ve hovered over one of these “multi-listing-markers” you’ll notice a slightly different experience than normal. We list the properties in a condensed, and scrolled format so the Visitor can locate any available listing on that location. As for Attached vs. Detached, you can see that we’ve added a new icon type for Attached homes.
A couple very useful changes we’ve also made to the front-end experience are:
- Sort listing results by % Price Drop
- Baths are now split into Full and Half Baths (where available)
- Cookieless Browsing is now supported
Sorting by % Price Drop can be very useful when trying to find great deals on the MLS. And of course having Full+Half Baths makes finding the perfect home easier.
Cookieless Browsing actually serves to correct two separate issues. The first being simply that some people have turned off Cookies (don’t know what cookies are? check this out).
Cookies allow us to know who you are when your browser asks us for things like what listings to show and what colors to display. So when we don’t know who you are, we don’t know what to show you. So we’ve implemented additional ways for us to track what we should be showing you, thus removing the necessity of Cookies. The second issue is that most of you “frame” our idx in an <iframe> and in some browsers (notably Safari) the default option is to only give access to Cookies to “visited” sites. Well when a site is in an <iframe> it is not considered “visited”, therefore we don’t get Cookies. But now we don’t need Cookies anymore, so this issue is effectively fixed (yay!).
That’s it for this update. More to come. I promise.