I ran a usability test of BiggerPocket’s home page and forums page to uncover any pain points or opportunity gaps.
Most real estate investors are usually older, more established in their careers and home life, and have more discretionary income to invest. However, BiggerPockets subscribes to the belief that anyone — yes, anyone — can invest in real estate if they have the knowledge, discipline, commitment, and right resources (or be able to obtain those resources).
Therefore, I believe that BiggerPockets users have a wide variance in their demographics and economic spending power, ranging from young, inexperienced 20 year olds looking to start investing to older, seasoned 60 year olds with robust investment portfolios.
Questions & Objectives
Through my guerrilla testing, I aimed to answer:
- Do new visitors immediately understand the value proposition of BiggerPockets?
- Do they feel compelled to join the BP Community?
Users were asked to perform the following tasks after I gave them pre-defined scenarios. Users would conduct tasks under my profile (to avoid the log-in hurdles):
- Navigate to www.biggerpockets.com
- Scroll through the page and navigate to other tabs as they felt necessary.
One of the scenarios I gave was: “Imagine you are a newbie investor in the Denver area and you are interested in learning more about real estate investment (REI). You don’t have a ton of cash flow, so you’re interested in learning just how feasible it is to invest. You hear from a friend about BiggerPockets as being some sort of real estate website. You decide to visit the website and learn more about REI.”
User Feedback: Common Themes
Based on the feedback I received from 8 user interviews and usability tests, the following were the main themes that I observed:
1. BiggerPockets’ main value proposition is unclear from the main page.
Upon first glance at the home page, it is unclear as to what BiggerPockets can help users do.
“What does ‘Financial Freedom’ actually mean?
- What exactly does “Financial Freedom” mean? Can this be defined? Or can it be elaborated in some example that may be more meaningful to folks? Is freedom better than happiness? If so, how? And why?
“I don’t really understand the 12 tools that are listed.”
- It takes a lot to read and really understand what each tool does. This was partially due to how the information was laid out (staggered by left and right alignment) and the amount of copy under each tool. Both of these contributed to low readability and scan-ability.
- What do the icon images show? The magnified images for each tool did not help users understand what the tool did or could be used for.
“Who are those people and why are they important?”
- Are they real people in this community? Or are they random people interviewed? A simple heading here could really help folks quickly understand that these are testimonials taken directly from the BP community.
Based on these insights, it would seem that users may not clearly understand BiggerPockets’ value proposition, right off the bat.
2. The Tour Over-Promised and Under-Delivered
BiggerPockets is rich with many resources, so naturally an on-boarding video would be great to better understand all the tools within the website. However, many users felt that the video did not provide enough compelling content.
“You said tour, so I was expecting an actual walkthrough of the site”
- It was a lot of talking, not a lot of showing. Here, it may be more impactful to have a screen walkthrough of the site. Many users were unable to fully visualize and realize all the features touched upon in the video.
- It felt jumpy and over-cut. The video comprised of many cuts, which made for a slightly jarring UX. Although the video quality was really high, it left an impression of “amateur-work” in many users’ eyes, which in turn lessened how much users regarded BiggerPockets as an “authority” on real estate.
3. I don’t feel a sense of community in the “Community” tab.
“I feel confused as to what I can and can’t do on this page.”
For many users, the Community/Forum page was very overwhelming. While clearly overflowing with valuable information, the fact that there was no easy way to search, filter, or sort by topic made the forums very hard to navigate and digest.
4. I could see how this website would help me with Real Estate Investing, but I think it would also take a lot of work on my part to really dive in.
This point answers my second question: Do users feel compelled to join the BP Community? It would seem the answer is, “Yes, but….”
While the BP Community is currently very robust and growing rapidly, I believe that some changes in copy and UI on the main page and Community tab could greatly increase lead generation and conversion (i.e. make it more compelling for users to sign up and join BP).
While more concrete design suggestions would require further user interviews and usability tests, one change I would recommend is to clean up the layout on the main page. By aligning all text boxes and images on a singular grid, it will increase readability and scan-ability greatly. This will in turn increase how “snackable” BiggerPockets’ content is, making it more compelling for users to join and engage.
All that being said, I think that BiggerPockets’ new site is very well designed. I love the company and how accessible they make real estate investing. Although I found some usability opportunity gaps through my research, I think that tackling the main page first will directly lead to increased lead generation.
Next, I would love to dig deeper into the Community and Forums page and better understand how users interact with the page, as well as how they want to interact with the page!
*I’m not affiliated with BiggerPockets in any way.