As Britain’s leading retirement housing developer, McCarthy & Stone provides privately owned retirement apartments to over 45,000 homeowners across the UK. To coincide with the company’s modern rebrand, we were tasked with the design and build of a brand new website. Find out how our extensive user research enabled us to deliver an award-winning website that’s helped McCarthy & Stone go from strength to strength.
We kicked off the project with extensive user research – carrying out focus groups with existing and potential customers, their families, and McCarthy & Stone staff. That meant hitting the road to see how perspectives differed across northern and southern regions of the UK. Our findings confounded our assumptions, in that there weren’t any significant differences. What we learnt armed us with a ton of consistent and insightful information about what our audience groups wanted, right across the country.
Even though requirements didn’t differ across the country, our research still showed location to be a key factor above all others. We found that the majority of McCarthy & Stone customers choose accommodation that’s close to their existing homes. So to make finding the right property easier than ever, we implemented IP address detection on property searches, which defaults to list residences near the potential customer’s current location. To counter any lack of property availability in a particular region, we also applied a ‘related areas’ results function, presenting the user with suitable alternatives based on their original location.
Making the user experience as simple as possible is a top priority in any project we undertake. With McCarthy & Stone, accessibility was vital for ease of interaction. Font sizes needed to be taken into consideration, and we provided users with the ability to resize text according to individual requirements. But even more important was the spacing around elements on the page, which we increased slightly to aid straightforward navigation around the site on all devices.
To take the hassle out of finding a comfortable retirement home, we administered a new FAQs section that provides instant answers according to keywords that the customer types. So instead of having to trawl through a list of answers with no certainty of finding the right information, the most relevant questions ‘pop up’ beneath the search box, allowing the user to pick their question and receive an instant answer.
The success of this project underlines the importance of carrying out in-depth research. The insight gained from holding focus groups with McCarthy & Stone’s core users allowed us to tailor the project to the audience – and the result is an award-winning site that’s full of intuitive user journeys. Since its launch, McCarthy & Stone’s new website has seen increases in visits, enquiries, and brochure requests – and a gold at the Digital Impact Awards confirms the success of our work.
Development enquiry to arrange a viewing of an apartment is up by 465% year on year
Total visits have increased by 60% year on year
Online development brochure requests by post have increased by 1169%
Gold at the Digital Impact Awards for ‘Best use of digital in the property sector’ and Bronze at the Transform Awards for ‘Best Rebrand of a Digital Property’