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Roost Redesign… Yay or Nay?

Roost.com screen shot

As I mentioned in a previous post, Iím very fond of looking at houses. I could search real estate sites for hours everyday and never get bored. If I werenít a graphic designer, Iíd seriously consider becoming a real estate agent. Up until recently, one of my favorite sites to search for houses was www.roost.com. It was a very well designed, user-friendly site. In fact, it was probably one of the only user-friendly real estate sites on the web! After searching a zip code, a list of houses quickly loaded in the center of the page. The user could easily refine his/her search by using the scroll bars at the top of the page. It was extremely easy to navigate. In addition, each listing had between 6-12 images of the interior of the house. The thumbnails were inline with the listings and you could expand the listing to see larger photos.

The other day I had a few minutes to spare and decided to indulge my secret pleasure of looking at houses. As always, I went straight to www.roost.com. To my surprise, it wasnít the same website I was used to seeing! Everything from the logo to the site design changed. I was shocked and a little disappointed. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the other site!  It had great colors, great layout and was very easy to navigate. Why would anyone decide to change that? However, I told myself to give it some time. It could potentially have some amazing new features! 

Unfortunately, I was wrong. After typing a zip code, a list of houses slowly loads according to your specifications. A new page appears. To the left are your search results. To the right the column splits. Map view at the top and images of the house at the bottom. Now, I would assume, that most people go to real estate sites to see images of the houses they may or may not want to buy. Why would anyone think itís a novel idea to make a major component of a real estate site the smallest feature? I could barely see details of the interior images! The previous site got it right. Images used to be very large for users to see. In addition, the site is very slow to load and the ìrefine your searchî is not at the top of the listings page anymore. Now, users are forced to click to refine their search, an additional extra step not needed. And even then, the ìrefine your searchî doesnít always work.  Also, they seem to have an ìactiveî map on the page. It constantly updates while you scroll through listings. However, like others, most people use the scroll bar on their mouse. If the user accidently have the mouse over the map, the map will zoom in and out rather than move the listings up and down.

The previous design was distinctive and original. In addition, extremely easy to navigate. The new site is very similar to the rest of the real estate sites out there today. The old site also used much more white space, which made the page much easier to read. Personally, I feel the site is much better than many, however, I would have preferred to have the old roost back.

Jun 19, 2009
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