Stuart & Partners: developing a modern letting agents website

Development / 01.07.16
Mark Vaesen

We recently launched a new website for Stuart & Partners, a family-run letting agents in Haywards Heath and Hassocks. Their previous site was launched in 2007 and was in desperate need of an update so they approached us to deliver a modern site that would grow with their business.

Property search with a difference

An effective property search system was of paramount importance when it came to building the new Stuart & Partners website. Not only was it crucial to help potential tenants find properties in their local area, it was key for landlords to see that their property listings were being exposed to as many eligible customers as possible.

From our research, we found that most property search systems fall into two traps: asking for too much information, or only returning exact matches. Combined together, the potential for returning zero results is very high. For that reason, we decided to re-imagine the search experience to help tenants and landlords alike.

By using a geographical algorithm, the system is able to return properties with greater relevance without being overly specific about the exact town or village that the property resides in. With a standard system, a property on the boundary between multiple locations can be difficult to categorise. The approach we developed takes that decision away from the administrator and gives it to the system to use maths and geography to decide!

Using this approach, the system can also suggest more relevant properties should it return zero results. If this occurs, the system expands the radius around the chosen location until it finds a match. It will then inform the user that this change to their search has been performed, explaining what has been affected.

Stuart & Partners screenshot
The geographical algorithm is able to suggest properties further afield if no results are found.

Giving customers the full picture

Our aim with the property listings was twofold: to show off the property in its best light, and to provide key information to a potential customer without complicating the interface. A typical user will no doubt be searching on countless agent and portal sites to find their next home; we wanted to make that process as painless as possible on Stuart & Partners new website.

We opted for an image-heavy design to really show off the properties. Teamed with information prioritisation on listing and details pages, users can quickly sift through the key features of a property without performing detective work to find crucial information.

A particular stand-out feature is the integration with Google Places to highlight nearby points of interest. Focusing on transport links and schools, there is a quick snapshot and a more detailed map of local facilities available on every property page.

Stuart & Partners third website screenshot

Keeping customers up to date

We created a custom email notification system for potential customers to register an interest in specific types of property. When a new property is added, the system automatically informs all relevant users with a responsive email outlining the key features of the dwelling.

In addition to this, new subscribers are informed of all currently available relevant properties when they sign up.

Real-time portal integration

Property portals have become a stalwart of the industry, providing users with a single point-of-reference for finding local properties. It was essential that the new website for Stuart & Partners kept all the key portals up to date with their latest properties.

Launching in mid-2015, Rightmove’s ‘Real Time Data Feed’ (RTDF) is the latest in property portal technology, promising swift update times ensuring the properties reflected on their system are always in-sync with your website.

Initially we built a bespoke system to run with the old, bulk upload feed but during the project, it became apparent that the new RTDF was the way to go for Rightmove. Our hunch was proved correct when Zoopla announced they were moving to a similar system design. The new API is vastly more complicated to integrate due to increased security and validation requirements but all-in-all, the outcome is a huge improvement on the original feed design.

Stuart & Partners feature properties web page

We’re very proud of the new Stuart & Partners website and feel it really pushes the boundaries of what a letting agents site can achieve.