Did the earth move for you or did they just move the earth?

Living in a community like ours, we noted that people here rarely move house. So it came as a surprise when one friend ask me how many times I had moved house in my life. This figure came out to be about 26 or 27 times, though some of the ‘moves’ may not count properly, and I’m sure I forgot a few places where I lived when I was in University.

relocationNaturally, I am not an ‘expert’ in moving, but when it is time to move, I tend not to worry about things so much. For those who haven’t moved quite as many times as I have, moving house typically ranks up there with some of the major life events: marriage, death, child birth, etc.. so for many people having a service that helps them through the entire process can be a real ‘life saver’.

There are out there many kinds of moving companies, from guys in a pickup to those who come with a large truck, load up, and drive off. In stress-filled lives, real moving companies, like, can be a real boon as they help with all the major steps in the process from Real Estate, Mortgage Guide, Moving, Apartment Hunting, Insurance, Careers, Storage, and to even Home Improvements. Their website provides lots of information on other areas areas of moving, too. Most importantly, they provide quotations on moving right on their front page, to help provide financial information.

Strengths of their website:
From the user’s point of view, website appears clean, well-layed out, and responsive. It is easy to find your way around the navigation of the website, and many of the areas are linked both at the top, and down the site. In addition, there are Terms of Service and Privacy Policies linked at the bottom of the page to help inspire some customer confidence. Additional pages pulled to show the quotes questionnaires seem well integrated within the site and stable in my browser. It’s clear where this company’s pedigree lies, welding the hands on experience of their founder, Sharon Asher, within the latest in-your-browser technology. Their aim is quite simple to “help consumers compare, connect and learn about products and services from hundreds of providers across categories such as moving, truck rental, storage, mortgage, real estate and insurance.” And from my use of the site, the information is detailed, logical and clear to visitors. For example, in the “Moving Guide” there is a timeline to help people plan, organize and execute their move. Their website also throws in additional help for the curve balls, like Pets, Children, and Plants!

Challenges that they face:
Reliability: I was however quite disappointed with site simply because when I came to review the site, I was unable to load any of the pages. At first I thought it was my Internet link, then my modem, router, but all of those were working fine. It kept giving me: “The connection has timed out” page in Firefox. The site is back online again now, but it is a cautionary note: if you are planning a campaign using bloggers who will review your products, websites and services, it’s a good idea to let them have the BEST impression of your website, not server timeouts, or you potentially will throw away any additional traffic that they generate for your website. And website traffic like that isn’t as willing to come back. So, reliability is key in all websites. Less savvy users may conclude that the website is unreliable and, worst of all, untrustworthy.

Eye-Candy: Clean looking websites are very effective, if a little dull. One of the problems that the current design has is the lack of personalization. There are no pictures of people, no recommendations, no stories, nothing that makes the experience human and ‘humane’. This is a problem for many informational type websites, but to reach mass audiences, this ’emotional’ connection is necessary. So, to remedy this, I would suggest having small and medium size graphics of people doing various moving house related activities: carrying items, packing boxes, looking satisfied as the trucks drive away, etc., in fact, these pictures could be ‘live’ pictures, or even movies, taken from real moving days. It doesn’t have to be corny, but let’s see some of the ‘human drama’ of moving. That’s what can help build a connection with your website and the companies that service them.

Interactive Elements: It might be good to allow additional interactive elements so that people can get help, ask questions, read reviews, purchase items to help them decide (such as books on moving house). Also, downloadable items, like checklists of things to do on moving day, financing a move checklist, budgeting your move calculators, etc., would also allow people to have some sense of value – something they can take with them.

Overall, is a polished effort and the obvious result of a lot of effort over the years. With a focus on making the website’s reliablity rock solid, adding some ‘eye candy’ and interactivity, you should see people coming back for their 25th or 26th relocation!

– Ed: I have feedback that the website is generally available now, and sure enough, it’s working today well. I usually do a little follow-up after my reviews. Site seems stable and responsive. Perhaps it was just little server gremlins, yesterday. (added Saturday 11:18pm). I also noted that the site is a PR7 on its main page, and sub-pages are often PR6.

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