Transforming the digital presence of a premium housebuilder to inspire potential home buyers.

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About the client

About the client

Countryside Properties is an award-winning housebuilder, engaged in urban regeneration, specialising in high-quality homes and developing inclusive communities.

Their work has been recognised by the FTSE4Good index for demonstrating exceptional environmental and social governance practices. Countryside is also a constituent of the FTSE 250 and listed on the London Stock Exchange

Challenge

The website’s primary function is to facilitate house sales for Countryside’s core audience while providing a clear journey for stakeholder groups to follow. With the goal of improving sales, Countryside was looking to consolidate its digital estate to support the wider business and ensure a more consistent brand experience was being offered to customers.

Countryside asked Reading Room to produce a new website that would meet these challenges and more accurately reflect the brand.

For us, the main priority was to improve the user journeys and enable users to seamlessly find the information they required, while directing all sales inquiries to the Countryside marketing team as quickly as possible.

We knew one of the biggest challenges would prove to be engaging and accommodating such a diverse group of users that included staff, housing associations, local authorities, joint ventures and commercial partnerships.

The new website needed to feel aligned to Countryside’s brand as premium housebuilders, appealing to their audience of lifestyle-focused consumers. Beyond user-experience, the platform had to be sustainable and scalable – something their legacy platform was not equipped to be – to fit with their growth strategy.

Approach

We wanted to reflect the new vision for Countryside’s brand, making them “synonymous with place-making, not housebuilding, and attract customers who want more than just bricks and mortar.”

Taking inspiration from lifestyle and editorial design, we explored the best ways to present the brand online. Central to this was real-life photography of furnished high-quality homes, crafting emotional investment into the purchase process and allowing people to imagine their lives in Countryside homes.

Drupal CMS was identified as the best platform to fit Countryside’s requirements, providing flexibility, scalability, and seamless third-party integration, along with accessible content editing functionality.

We developed a property search feature that was powerful, intuitive, and easy to use, helping users quickly identify new housing developments. Working closely with end-users and content editors to streamline processes, build efficiencies, and identify pain points. One problem we identified was that each new property page needed to be created manually – this was ameliorated by the new CMS which allowed the use of common elements to quickly build pages.

Including multisite functionality was central to the technical solution we delivered, providing Countryside with the ability to easily set up microsites for investors or other secondary audiences. Now Countryside could expand their web estate while keeping their brand consistent.

Third-party systems were also integrated, including Zoopla, Loquate, RightMove, and Breadbean, streamlining property listing management across their digital platforms. Work is now ongoing to provide additional integration with their new CRM, Microsoft Dynamics.

Outcomes

Users can now access information on the Countryside website much more easily, owing to our user-centric design approach. Simplified user journeys have translated into a decreasing bounce rate, and content is now being updated more regularly.

Direct calls to action have been incorporated throughout the new design, improving user experience and emphasising the process of booking property viewings. Both the number of form submissions and page views have increased significantly. After the first month, there has been a 24% rise in registrations, phone inquiries have grown by 44%, and viewing appointments have increased by a massive 112%.

There has also been substantial growth in returning visitors, further highlighting the effect of the improved user experience. Countryside now has a site with a distinctive look and feel, helping it stand out against its competitors and reinforcing its position as a premium house builder.