Oakleaf Properties

A marketing strategy



Strategy & Goals

The Cincinnati-based apartment management company Oakleaf Properties, LLC, requested a revamped marketing strategy. By establishing a website and curating marketing materials these clients hoped to become more visible online to current and prospective tenants. These stakeholders identified streamlining communication, updating their logo, and generating a robust online presence as their three biggest goals.


Research

I interviewed the proprietors of Oakleaf Properties to discuss an appropriate and sustainable strategy for marketing their thirteen properties. After collaboratively assessing multiple competing sites local to the Cincinnati area, we identified significant conventions for rental property websites, as well as new sections they wished to add. The clients opted to use a conventional listings-model to show properties, amenities, photos, and their current rental status. They specifically wished to add a documents section providing access to cleaning expectations, a sub-leasing policy, and sample lease.


Prototyping & Design

The drafting process and wireframes for the website’s landing page changed multiple times to make the site useful for current and prospective tenants.


Early wireframes built with Balsalmiq.


Initially embedded Google maps accompanied every property on the Properties page, but eventually the clients decided to move this feature to the contact section. In addition, the Documents page required numerous iterations to ensure that prospective renters were not bombarded with information useful only to current tenants, and vice versa.




Usability Testing

After deploying a version of the site that satisfied the clients, I conducted 5 semi-structured interviews with individuals unfamiliar with Cincinnati, Oakleaf Properties, and the Oakleafrents.com website. These in-person interviews lasted 25-minutes each, and used combined aspects of focused prompts with open and free-form discussion.


USER STORIES


"Property management websites streamline my experience shopping for apartments, by helping me avoid back-and-forth conversations with landlords."

Becky

Postdoctoral Fellow

“Whenever I forget the recycling policy it's useful to have it outlined on the website. In fact, I keep it bookmarked on my iphone."

Jonathan

Current Tenant

“Moving across the country means that I need to do a fair bit of research about neighborhoods and housing options online."

Robert

National Guard Officer

“As a life-long resident of Anderson Township, I was nervous about having my daughter live in near the University."

Martha

Mother of an Incoming UC Freshman

Sample Protocol

  1. While researching housing in Cincinnati online you discover Oakleafrents.com. Use the site to find a 2-bedroom apartment near campus.
  2. You are a current tenant in an Oakleaf Properties managed building. You are unsure what the cleaning expectations are for the building, and vaguely recall the landlord mentioning that they are somewhere on the website. Find these instructions.
  3. You are the parent of a freshman student at the University of Cincinnati. You are helping your son shop for an apartment near campus, and want to make sure that the neighborhood is on the Southern part. How will you determine the location of all 1 or 2 bedroom units on the Oakleafrents.com website?

On the whole participants enjoyed the site, and a few voiced a wish that their own rental agencies provided something similar. This exercise in testing with potential users also revealed that the section breakdown on the documents page was unclearly deliniated.

Insights from testing inspired me to redesign the Documents page layout to better signal that the document titles are links.


Handoff & Continued Iteration

Clients provide this site to renters as an effective way to access documents. Per our agreement, I maintain the listing using AWS. I am also available to update documents and listing status on a bi-monthy basis.




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