User Testing (1): First Impressions

First impressions are vitally important. You want your beautiful website design to immediately hit home with a potential client, “wow, they look smart, they could sell my house”.  So, in the first of our extensive user testing series, we show 10 users, 14 estate agent websites sites in rapid succession.  They get 20-30 seconds on each site, and they are asked to tell us “what they like?”, “what they dislike?” and their “score out of 10”.

Caveats: We’ve edited out all the pauses.  This gives you the benefit of hours of footage in a concentrated 30 minute video, though explains the glitches when viewing.  Remember, this isn’t meant to be an artistic or even a summary edit: it’s raw data.  But it also gives a bit of a false impression of the actual testing we did; we didn’t guide them as much as the video suggests with those pauses removed.  We also alternated the order in which users reviewed the agents in order to neutralise the impact for users tiring towards the end of the exercise. Not all users were asked to score every site, nor are all of the snippets shown. Whilst we’ve included all the interesting comments, we have at times not shown messages where they were repeated over and over.  But you can rest assured the edit does not alter the overall message in any way; as you’ve probably gathered by now… we like a bit of science at Homeflow.

For a bit of fun we’ve compiled and averaged the design scores to rank the best looking estate agents (see chart below).  And for those impatient to see specific agents results we have included a table of which minute you need to fast forward to in order skip to the agent in question at the bottom of the page.  You can also skip forward to the summary conclusions at minute 34:50.  Enjoy!

Design Scores – who wins?

People say design is subjective, and of course it is at an individual level. However “design response” is startlingly scientific once you look at aggregate audience averages. We’ve done this exercise a few times now, and the sites come out in a very similar order nearly every time, proving it’s possible to be good looking or ugly in absolute terms. (Oh yes, it’s a cruel world.)

Obviously we’re chuffed to bits that Leaders (the only Homeflow site involved in this test) came out in the top 3, beaten only by two fabulous sites, both of which were built with budgets somewhere in the order of 5-10 x bigger. However, far more importantly, there are some great general lessons that come out of the testing, once you sit back and really analyse it in aggregate. For the impatient, you can scoot straight to those summary at minute 34:50.  We’ve obscured the scores in the public videos, as we’re not into naming and shaming.

Average Score Chart

What next?

If you enjoy this video, you may enjoy more of the similar materials and guides in our resources library.

And if you are interested in chatting to us about these, and many other similar ideas for your website, please do get in touch, we’re eager to chat to you.  Just talking about your online marketing is valuable and free.


00:45 Hamptons
03:00 Strutt and Parker
05:45 Haart
08:00 Marsh and Parsons
10:48 Winkworth
13:35 Chestertons
16:18 KFH
18:51 Foxtons
22:20 Curchods
25:55 James Pendleton
29:02 Leaders
31:18 Haus
33:18 Douglas and Gordon
34:50 Summary


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