StreetEasy kicked off its second post-Zillow website redesign Wednesday afternoon, launching a version of the site that shuffles around many of the site’s tools and, for the first time, offers them up for free.
While some aspects of the site, such as the location of the search bar, remain the same, a greater amount of content is now located on the home page. The site’s more popular features are featured in a bar along the right-hand side of the home page, and a number of tools that were previously located behind the site’s paywall are now accessible to all users.
Dropping the previous $10 user fee is aimed at bringing a larger number of users to the site, which StreetEasy in turn hopes will be a boon for advertisers and featured listings, Zillow’s New York general manager Susan Daimler told The Real Deal.
“While $10 might not seem like an insurmountable amount, we believe a lot of people would get there and stop, not knowing what’s on the other side,” Daimler said.
The redesign and free content is also intended to turn casual shoppers into permanent users, Daimler said, by plugging them into some of the site’s lesser-known tools. That includes information from the Department of Buildings, which she said was previously not been as easily discoverable as StreetEasy would like. Post-redesign, the link now appears at the top of the site’s building pages.
“We hope to engage customers not only when they are doing searches, but after they own the property – getting alerts about what’s going on in their building, who is pulling permits,” she said. “We hope to have consumers using StreetEasy all the time.”
The redesign is the site’s second since Zillow acquired StreetEasy for $50 million last fall. The previous revamp aimed to create a “visual search” and make information on the site more easily accessible, Sofia Song, StreetEasy’s president of research and communications at the time (she has since left the firm for Urban Compass), told The Real Deal back in October. But that format rankled brokers and some consumers, who complained that it was “glitchy,” did not work well on Internet Explorer and was becoming “Zillow-fied.”
“It was ironic that people had concerns, because neither Zillow nor I was involved in that design project,” Daimler said of the previous backlash. “And as you’ll see from the mockups, there is very little resemblance to Zillow. StreetEasy has a different approach to real estate.”
To ease longtime users through the transition, Daimler said that StreetEasy’s customer service would be at the ready to guide them through any questions or stumbling blocks. But because the redesign is made to feel natural – “we haven’t moved anybody’s cheese,” as Daimler put it – the site’s designers don’t anticipate an especially disruptive experience.
“I think there are always people who don’t like change,” Daimler said. “That’s part of the territory, and I’m sure no matter what business, no matter what website there will always be people who maybe aren’t happy. But in general I’m incredibly pleased with the design and think we will receive a lot of positive feedback from consumers and brokerages.”