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Usability gripe of the day: realestate.com.au
Gripe of the day: taking the time to fill in a contact form on a web site, clicking Send, and being told that the requested page does not exist yet. Double-gripe, had I not been able to go back and save what I wrote.

The scenario: realestate.com.au have redesigned the site. That's fine. But maps don't work, at least not on this computer (in any of my three browsers). That shows a lack of testing. Grr. But these things happen. I decided to ask when it would be resolved; a question which doubles as a problem report if they're not aware of it. To have the additional problem of a broken contact form: not good.

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Actully nothing much seems to work on the site. Its completely broken in Firefox (isnt displaying its CSS or AJAX or whaterver it is at all). It works in IE, but bad site no biscuit!

Also, the UI intuitiveness has nosedived. All the dropdowns (eg to pick house, flat etc) have just morphed into plain text boxes. Seemingly. I got horribly confused, cursed a bit and gave up.

That's .. interesting. OS?

XP. Its working now as stated below (well, displaying) but i cant sign in.

yeah, sounds like scripting weirdness. plugins?

Only adblock, and all it is blocking is a couple of general ads, nothing on the RE site itself. I havent tried it at home tho. FF 3.0.18 on XP on a work LAN.

Because I have a "thing" for usability, and since I feel like avoiding my own work and giving people free feedback instead (whether desired or not!), here's some more info that might be useful for troubleshooting and/or future design iteration...

MY SETUP - work computer:

* WinXP with MSIE 6, Opera 10.51, Firefox 3.6.3. (So, different JavaScript implementations, but possibly shared Flash.)

* All behind a corporate firewall, although with Opera I use a different proxy than whatever's auto-configured for MSIE and Firefox.

* There is no visible response when clicking Sign-In.

* Maps do not appear.

ALTERNATIVE SETUP - personal computer:

* Separate to Windows box, I have a MacBook Pro (MacOS 10.6.3) running Opera 10.10. Has a direct Internet connection through a different network.

* Maps appear.

* I can log in. (Although the login panel appears in a dynamic way that makes me think the site is so Javascript dependent that it's inaccessible to some people by design.)

* I haven't tried Safari or Firefox on this Mac, as I haven't needed to. I tend to assume that if it works in Opera, the site's good enough to work in more popular browsers.


* I added an Alert on 8th or 9th or April and have been receiving emails from it (the most recent one 9 hours ago). However, I can't see it in the list of Saved Searches. It's as if there were issues in getting a seamless database migration that mean the site's missing some new data.

* Use of Flash, even if it's just for banner ads/widgets, has sent my CPU crazy. I've closed the site and the fan has returned to normal. The effect is that I'll probably continue to use the site sometimes but will try to keep my visits short.

* There doesn't seem to be anything to introduce the new site and convey a message like "hey, don't panic - the site's new, but here's a tour/overview to get you started".

* One other usability gripe that has remained from the previous design is this behaviour:

1. Go to the site and click Rent.
2. Sign In.
3. Signing in takes you back to the Buy section. Unless user testing has proved otherwise, I imagine that typical user expectation is to remain in the same area.

* I haven't tested it, but it looks like it might now be possible to update the criteria for an Alert. I couldn't see this functionality before. If so, yay!

Ahh, so you persisted longer than I did and got to see the faults. The first thing I usually want to do is see where the place is (on a map, not just an address), so I've been looking at the empty white map box and giving up.

It now seems to be working (ie displaying the page) in FF, but I cant login. I click on the login link and nothing happens. No error, nothing.

And im not even running noscript on my work pc. Weird.

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