I usually refrain from talking about work here on the blog, but this is a company I no longer work for so I think I can squeeze it in.
One of the last things I did before leaving my post as the product manager for Apartments.com was pull together the framework for a site redesign project that Apts.com wanted to get done before the fourth quarter. I don't recall the exact timeframe of the plan I put together - I've long since forgotten the details of the plan - but it looks like they got the newly designed site up under the closing bell of the third quarter.
It certainly is a good looking homepage. In fact, after moving through the rest of the site a little last night it looks like the lion's share of time was dedicated to coming up with a new presentation for the homepage. Much brighter. More inviting. And certainly more current looking than what Apartments.com had in the past. Though, I can't help but notice the influence of the design of one of the competitor's sites on this new Apartments.com homepage.
Unfortunately, it looks like the interior of the site still suffers from the problems that have plagued Apartments.com for years - too many different interests competing for page space. Large banner ads pushing the main rental content farther and farther down the page, lots of text links in the left-hand navigation begging to be looked at, and a search result page with all sorts of icons, sections, text, and links that someone will have to take time to digest first in order to understand what it is they are looking at.
What I also think hurts the interiors are the muted colors that are used. All the side bars, buttons, and maps looked washed out - both at home last night on my Mac where I first noticed the newly designed site, and on my Windows machine here at work this morning. There's no structure to the page. Nothing tells me what to look at first on a page.
Overall though, it still is a marked improvement over what they had. The new design updates the site and makes it appear more contemporary. The site is certainly more inviting to the novice or casual visitor to the site. I'm sure they'll work out some of these design issues over time. More pressing would be working out all the runtime errors I got while going through the site. Last night when I got the errors I thought it was me hitting the site while they were still rolling things out (though at 11:15 at night, I hope for the tech department's sake this wasn't the case. then again), but when I was still getting them this morning - a lot of them - then maybe there is something wrong. And when I think about it now, they could have rolled this site out last week - I'm not checking Apartments.com daily, just thought of it after reading a former co-worker's blog - which would mean even worse things if these errors have been persistent on the site for a few days.
No worries though. One, I don't work there anymore, so I don't have to worry about it. Two, the Apartments.com tech team have some very intelligent and bright people on staff. They'll figure things out.
With this new site design out, I can officially cut the ties to Apartments.com in a business capacity. I still hope and plan on keeping in touch with some of the people I worked with there. It's just this redesign was a project I helped get started before I left and was mildly interested in seeing how it would turn out. Now that's it out there, my interest in Apartments.com as site and a business is pretty much through. I can close the door and move on.