How boosting website UX can drive greater tenant engagement

For any housing organisation, boosting tenant engagement is a top priority.

When tenants have a reliable platform to make their voices heard, your business is better placed to understand what improvements you need to make to enhance housing conditions and services.

But, active engagement also promotes a culture of mutual trust and respect between tenants, landlords and your staff.

But where should you start when it comes to your digital offering? We’d argue it’s with your website and user experience – the very first touchpoints in their journey with you.

Whether it’s a virtual viewing or logging a maintenance request, increasingly, tenants want to go about their business online – and more often than not, on their phones.

What does this mean for businesses like yours?

First off, it means your website had better be up to scratch and mobile-friendly. But secondly, it means opportunity.

If met, this increased level of expectation allows you to be more responsive to tenant requests, as well as benefiting directly from the enhanced engagement you’ll receive. It can also result in lower tenant turnover; a happy tenant is likely to stay for longer, so it’s a win-win for both parties.

So – what’s the best way to get started? How can you boost your housing organisation’s online experience for great engagement? We’ve covered the key points for you below…

Know your audience

Engaging with your audience is all about speaking to them directly. It’s about tapping into their wants and desires by showing them that you understand their needs and can deliver value.

As an organisation in the housing sector, you’re likely to have two key audiences: landlords and tenants. Both of these groups make up your target market, but what they expect from you and how they wish to be engaged will vary greatly. For example, landlords want to know details around how easy their unit will be to sell and how to edit their listing, while tenants care about things like property price and location, how many bedrooms there are, and whether the property is children or pet friendly.

These differences should be reflected in your website UX design. A one-size-fits-all approach will only serve to alienate tenants and landlords alike, and they’ll start to look to your competitors to fulfil their needs.

The best way to cater to both audiences is to incorporate separate dashboards or portals into the design of your website. This will ensure that landlords and tenants have access to a comprehensive, personalised and easy-to-navigate tool that meets their needs and keeps them coming back.

Search and filter functions

In the UK, renters account for up to 35% of the market. With the cost of living rising, this figure is likely to increase as home ownership becomes further out of reach for many.

This means that tenants are faced with navigating an ever-growing number of property listings in search of the perfect home.

Navigating a website with a large number of products or content can go one of two ways. If there are filters to narrow down searches, then this can be a rewarding experience that allows users to view a wide range of content. If it’s complicated and confusing, users will become frustrated, disengaged and they’ll look elsewhere.

When it comes to maximising tenant engagement on your website, search and filter functions are an essential component to boosting user experience – something that market leaders like Rightmove do particularly well.

They allow tenants to narrow down their search using select criteria, which eliminates the need for numerous search queries to find something specific. Radius, price range, property type, and must-haves like parking or a garden, all help to place tenants in control of their search and keep them satisfied.

Information on the go

The world we live in moves at a frenetic pace and nothing seems to remain still for long. Even when we do stop for a minute, be it in a queue or waiting for the next train, we continue to do things on our phones.

Today’s tenant likes to do things on the go. Where they once may have sat down for an evening to find the perfect property, they now do this wherever they’ve got a spare moment – on their lunch break, in a taxi home, or waiting to meet a friend.

It’s for this precise reason that it’s imperative that your website is mobile-friendly.

In 2020, mobile phone usage accounted for 50.88% of internet traffic, and with mobile phones evolving in capability every year, this number will only increase.

The truth is, if you want to engage tenants then you have to assume they’re scrolling your website on a mobile. If mobile optimisation isn’t a core part of your UX design plans, don’t be surprised when your bounce rate skyrockets; users will refuse to engage with a website that’s been crammed onto a screen it wasn’t meant for.

Another design feature tenants expect from websites in the search for greater responsiveness is live chat.

When a tenant encounters an issue with a property or has a question to ask, they don’t have time to wait around for an answer via email, or even worse, schedule a call back or face-to-face appointment with a member of staff.

They want answers to their queries now.

Within a few seconds of landing on your website, tenants will be forming opinions about what you offer and what you don’t, and how this speaks to the service they can expect. If you don’t have a live chat function, they’ll assume any query they have isn’t worth asking as it will take too long to get a reply and stop engaging immediately.

A live chat function encourages engagement from tenants because it signals speed, convenience, efficiency, and the idea that your organisation values their concerns – whether they’re presented to you during business hours or not.

Visual stimulation

Varying the content that appears on your site may seem obvious, but it’s something that’s neglected all too often.

If a website is filled with pages and pages of copy, it doesn’t matter how well it’s written, tenants will immediately switch off and become unengaged.

In the property sector, this is especially true.

Prospective tenants want to picture themselves living in a home before they sign. They want to imagine how their stuff will fit with the fixtures and furnishings; they want to envisage the neighbourhood they’ll come to call home and how they’ll fit in.

Signing for property is a monumental commitment and investment. A strong visual representation of a property, via well-taken photos and interactive maps, is integral to catching the attention of tenants and providing them with the reassurance they need.

Businesses have also been rewarded for their investment in virtual viewing technology.

Although in use before the pandemic, their mass-uptake across the housing sector was certainly driven by the shift in behaviour that was necessary during social distancing restrictions.

Now, they’re not simply the ultimate convenience for tenants, but they also help to target prospective renters and buyers from further afield – often convincing them to sign on the strength of their virtual viewing alone.

Viewber is an online platform that has leveraged this tech to make a huge difference to landlords and tenants. Agents, auctioneers and investors enlist the help of Viewber to conduct a 360 degree view of their properties.

What started out as a response to the pandemic, has become an essential component to enhancing user experience.

The result? Conversion rates among renters rose by 8.5% when shown a virtual viewing, with two thirds of renters signing without undertaking an in-person visit.

Is your business looking for ways to boost website UX design?

Talk to our team of designers about which must-have design features can help drive active engagement among your tenants and the various benefits this could have for your business’ long-term growth strategy.

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