Listings websites are feeling pressure to outgun their rivals not only in terms of functionality, but also aesthetics.
Domain Group chief operating officer Tony Blamey told an REB Leadership Series event for portal executives that consumers are placing an increasing premium on product experience.
“I think Apple’s responsible for a lot of that with what they’ve done around the App Store,” he said.
“A lot of new entrants are very focused on design and user experience, and I think there’s now an expectation there that perhaps didn’t exist before. Things have moved away somewhat from function and utility to experience and design.”
Homely co-chief executive Jason Spencer said Homely has focused on design from the moment in launched in December 2013.
“My brother, who is my co-founder, has a big background in design and he keeps emphasising that we need to keep things simple,” he said.
“I think there are too few start-up portals that take design as their core driver. I know design is expensive, but now I think an innovative product has to have that beautiful design built in.”
However, Onthehouse Group chief executive Chris Meehan warned that portals have to be careful not to let design get in the way of functionality.
Mr Meehan told the REB Leadership Series event that designers can complicate things, which is why their designs always have to be tested.
“I remember once in a previous business we moved the ‘Contact an agent’ feature to the bottom of the page, which was suggested by the product manager, and we saw the response to agents drop by a third within a week,” he said.
“That was the design decision that everyone thought was a great decision, but the data said otherwise.”
[Related: How to crack the portal code]