Inspired by a recent talk on the importance of mobile experiences, I've conducted an analysis of the mobile contact forms for the big real estate portals. These are the forms that turn visitors into leads.
Why it matters: Mobile is huge. My research of the top real estate portals shows that, on average, 70 percent of leads come from mobile. Mobile contact forms should be optimized to be as efficient as possible.
Notable UX highlights
Pre-selecting checkboxes is a real-world example of behavioral science (specifically nudge theory) in action. In the U.S., Zillow and realtor.com take different approaches to encourage (or discourage) users to request additional financing information. Overseas, Propertyfinder, PropertyGuru and Otodom do the same when it comes to signing users up for property alerts.
Trade Me has the unique distinction of having the easiest and most difficult mobile form. On the positive side, it is the shortest form from my survey, simply asking for a message. On the negative side, it requires users to sign in to send a message. Luckily, almost the entire population of New Zealand is a member of Trade Me, but in the case of a new user (or someone who isn't logged in), this introduces a significant form completion hurdle.
The more required fields, the more difficult to complete a form. I know Germans can be formal at times, but does salutation really need to be a required field for ImmoScout24?
Redfin has split its form across three screens, each quite simple. But the additional effort to click a submission button three times instead of one, plus additional page load time, adds significant (and unnecessary) overhead.
Hemnet has decided to do away with forms all together and simply list an email address, leaving communication entirely in the user's hands!
Many thanks to the portals that were willing to share their data with me (both anonymously and on the record). The collective intelligence is a benefit to all!
The percentage of leads that come from mobile (native app or mobile web) varies greatly: from 40 percent in Poland (Otodom) to 91 percent in Singapore (PropertyGuru).
The biggest markets average somewhere in the middle: around 65 percent in the U.K. (Zoopla) to 72 percent in Australia (Domain).
On average, around 70 percent of all leads come from a mobile device, underlining the importance of a smooth mobile user experience.
User experience best practices
Best Practices for Mobile Form Design is an incredible resource for designing simple and effective mobile forms. Looking at the mobile forms from this survey, there are several best practices to remember:
Avoid dropdown menus (dropdowns are especially bad for mobile).
Don't slice data fields (when asking for a first and last name).
Mark optional fields instead of mandatory ones (don't use asterisks).
A number of real estate portals do a great job at keeping the mobile experience simple and easy by following best practices and keeping the form as short as possible. My hope is that next year the forms will be even easier for users to complete. And if you're wondering just how important leads are, just ask Zillow.
Before entering the high-octane world of real estate tech strategy, I was a product guy. My master's degree was in human-computer interaction, and I spent the first years of my career as a user interface designer. So I'm passionate about great design!