Everybody’s a critic, right? So just for fun, I decided to take a look at the major CRE brokerage sites. And I’ve got some expertise to do it thanks to a degree in information management that included courses in website architecture.
Okay…you don’t need “higher education” to know whether a website is good or not, but there’s more to it than just aesthetics and even content. A site can look great and have terrific content but if you can’t find anything, it’s an architectural problem. For all the sites, I performed what I believe to be common visitor tasks:
- Find an office
- Download research
- Search for properties
- Find out about a service offering (I chose investment…)
Since this would be a very long post on its own, I’m going to break it up into 4 posts. And since I don’t want the suspense to kill anyone, I’ll be posting them 4 days in a row.
Find an Office – 3 clicks
No locations link on menu. Tried “Our People”. No good. Finally saw offices map. Select country, city… On the office page, there are links to find people and search properties, I (wrongly) assume, for the office page I’m on. Instead, I’m brought to the generic people search page and have to fill out everything.
Download Research - 1 (5) clicks to download link
Clicking on “global research and consulting” link brought me to a page with the most current reports. Viewing did not require any sign-in/registration (good) and clicking on document links brought up the PDF doc to open or save (also good). But it took 5 clicks to get to a list of US reports…
Search for Properties – 3 to filter page
- Find a Property link easy to find on main menu. It brought me to a map on which I had to choose a location. Then it sent me to new tab (why?) where I had to select by type of space (sale, lease, small space…). Oddly, BIG image next to space type wasn’t linked…had to click on inline text “search now.”
- Some of the types (small space and investment listings) require sign up. Investment okay. But small space users?
Find out about investment services/offerings – 1 click
- Clicked on “investment management” though I wasn’t quite sure if that was right. Appears to be correct and page contains some news and a report, but there’s nothing here about services offered to investors – just a link to log in to an existing account. Then I realize I’m on an entirely new site with new menu items…
- Decided to find an investment professional. Clicked on contact link and of course, I have to go through the whole select your office thing again.
- Under North America there are 4 related services. What is “Strategic Partners?” Clicked…and finally, the contact info.
- Have no idea what “strategic partner services” are. Couldn’t find a link with that name in the investment management section. Used the search tool. Got an error. Oh well…
- Can’t figure out how to get back to the main site. Finally find a link at the bottom of the page.
Basic navigation is good, but some of the menu/sub-menu item names are dense/have no idea what they mean and are inconsistent across the site (Global is “home” in the breadcrumb menu…Home is used elsewhere, for example). And putting important navigation items like office locations off of the main menu isn’t a good idea. You can repeat these items in the body of the page, but people always look at them menu first, so that’s where they should be.
Number of clicks for each task is acceptable considering the scope of the site but there are a few instances where number of clicks could be reduced – like the US report list.
Also there are “mini-sites” for many of the services and pages that open in new tabs. I know CRE specialty groups like to have their own site, but they are very confusing to the user especially when the branding and menu are noticeably different and the way to get back to the main site is not evident. If anything should open in a new tab, it should be “associated” sites so visitors could easily go back or refer to the main site.