Unite The Union
Digital partner to the UK's largest membership organisation
Refreshing a premium housebuilder's digital presence to inspire potential buyers.
Award-winning house building and urban regeneration company, Countryside Properties, specialises in creating quality homes and communities that people want to be a part of.
Countryside is proud to be included in the FTSE4Good where it is recognised for demonstrating strong environmental, social, and governance (EDG) practices. On top of this, Countryside is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250.
Countryside wanted to provide a more consistent customer experience online, by creating a unified digital estate that supported the wider business. This would lead to better communication of the brand message, a more coherent brand image, and, ultimately, increased sales.
The primary objective of the website was to facilitate home sales to its core audience of homebuyers, as well as provide all stakeholder groups with a clear journey to follow. However, Countryside faced the complex challenge of how to engage its varied stakeholder groups, which include: internal users, multiple divisions, land, commercial, joint ventures and partnerships, local authorities, and housing associations.
Reading Room was engaged to build a new website for Countryside that more accurately reflected the brand online and overcame these challenges.
Our priority was to simplify user journeys, enabling users to find information seamlessly and to direct sales enquiries through to Countryside’s marketing teams as quickly as possible.
As a premium housebuilder, the website needed to look and feel aligned to the Countryside brand, and appeal to a lifestyle-focused consumer audience. As well as looking good, the platform needed to be scalable and sustainable, allowing Countryside to scale in line with its growth strategy.
Countryside's legacy platform did not allow it to scale in line with its growth strategy, making it a priority to move to a scalable and sustainable platform.
We started by reflecting Countryside's new vision for the brand, to: “Make Countryside synonymous with place-making, not housebuilding, and attract customers who want more than just bricks and mortar.”
To do this, we took inspiration from editorial and lifestyle design, exploring how we could use these to reflect the key element of the brand digitally. Fundamental to this was the use of real-life and internal photography of high quality finished and furnished homes. This allows people to imagine how it would feel to live in a Countryside home, creating a more emotive purchase process.
We identified a Drupal CMS platform as the best fit for Countryside's needs with a focus on content editor experience, flexibility, ability to scale up, and seamlessly integrate with third-party systems.
We crafted a simple, intuitive, and powerful property search to help users find new housing developments quickly. In addition to the end user we worked closely with content editors to create efficiencies and streamline processes. Several pain points were identified, such as having to manually create property pages, which we addressed by ensuring the new CMS allowed editors to use common elements to build out pages.
Key to our technical solution was the inclusion of multisite functionality, that allows Countryside to easily spin up microsites for secondary audiences like investors and joint venture projects. This allows them to grow their digital estate while maintaining governance over the look and feel. Content like development information is synced seamlessly between sites.
The build included multiple complex integrations with 3rd party systems, including Breadbean, Loquate, Zoopla, and RightMove, to streamline the management of property listings across the different digital platforms. We also built in the ability to send information capture directly into Contact Builder and Pursuit from various forms on the site, such as the 'book a viewing’ form. We are currently scoping out the work to deliver a new integration with Microsoft Dynamics as Countryside migrates its CRM database to this platform.
Our user-centric approach to design has helped users find information integral to decision making including, development, plot, and financing information. These simpler user journeys have dramatically decreased the site’s bounce rate and improved average content dwell time in comparison to the old site.
New designs incorporate clear calls to action, which allows users looking for a home to sign up for viewings at developments, at the appropriate moment. As a result, the number of page views and entries registering interest has significantly increased.
In the first month after revising the designs, we have seen a 24% increase in registrations, a 112% increase in viewing appointments, and a 44% increase in phone enquiries to the marketing offices.
The number of returning visitors has also increased on the new site, emphasising that improved user journeys, user interfaces, and a contemporary look and feel distinguish Countryside from its competition, and reinforce its position as a premium house builder.