Rettie Estate Agents

The design and development of a responsive Rettie website.

The background

Rettie & Co are one of the larger estate agencies in Edinburgh and Scotland. They were an existing client of Story UK and towards the end of 2013 decided they were in need of a website refresh to account for increasing numbers of mobile users.

I worked as a Front End Designer & developer.

Getting started

I began liaising with Rettie to establish what exactly they were looking to accomplish. The previous website had been live for over three years, wasn’t responsive and was cumbersome to interact with. This had resulted in dwindling statistics when looking at analytics.

There were aspects of the site that would need to be retained – search, information about staff, user accounts etc – but the site structure was really open for an overhaul.

During this initial stage, it also became apparent that I’d not only need to cater for Sales and Rental searches, but also Farms & Estates, Developments and New Homes too.

As is “normal” with search based sites (such as airbnbrightmove and Virgin America) I initially proposed a horizontal form. This included the addition of tabs across the top to switch between search options.

The client wasn’t too keen. I therefore needed to think up a new format for the search field. After a few iterations of various layouts for the form, I proposed a vertical format. This would sit on the left of the page. It was felt that this was a far more viable option that would please the various departments accordingly.

Design concepts

The Rettie brand was fairly set in stone in regards to palettes and logo. As such, there was only so much variation that the concepts could entail at this initial stage. The wireframes had been designed with the layout of the page in mind. Consequently, a lot of the work was purely to enable the client to visualise the new site.

Using Invision to display the designs, I collaborated with the client to reach a final point that everyone was happy with. Once completed, I moved onto the development of the front end site.

Front end development

This was the final project that I worked on using just HTML and CSS. Since then, I have been using SASS. The turning point was where I thought, “there must be an easier way of doing this“.

Aside from this, the front end build of the site was straightforward. I had purposely been researching the Google card UI design, and really like the way that Google design their products, and it has since grown into their Material Design documentation.

I think design elements can be seen in the Rettie design and allow elements of the interface to stand out from each other.

The results

When the new website launched, Rettie has seen the following happen:

  • A 27% increase in site sessions
  • Tablet and Mobile users (58%) now outweigh those on desktop (42%). When launched, desktop consumed 52%
  • A 21% increase in overall site users

Future enhancements

It has now been over a year since the original site was launched. There are a few areas of the site that could still do with some work. Using the Hotjar tool has provided some really insightful information, which I’m hoping to implement in the coming months.