"We have considered every aspect of the website and its functionality to make it as appealing for landlords and letting agents, and as simple for students, as possible."
The website upgrade has been delivered by Manchester digital agency Code Computerlove who was appointed by AFS late last year.
The re-launched interactive site is now far easier and faster for students and landlords to navigate, view properties and make enquiries both on desktop and mobile. It is also currently one of the fastest ever property portals on the web, with page download speeds of 0.8 seconds.
Started in 2000, AccommodationforStudents.com was the first student accommodation search engine. It quickly became established as the market leader with well over 100,000 pages. However, being originally built in classic ASP (active server pages) meant that changing and upgrading it, to ensure its future versatility and longevity, was always going to be a costly exercise.
Determined to make it happen, entrepreneur and Director of AFS, Simon Thompson, bought out his business partner William Berry one year ago, then succeeded in getting a loan from The North West Fund, which gave him the much-needed capital to re-invest in the business’ core asset - the website.
He comments: “This re-launch has been a long-time in planning. We have considered every aspect of the website and its functionality to make it as appealing for landlords and letting agents, and as simple for students, as possible.
In terms of new features, students can now see blended search results. Previously students had to visit different areas of the website to see different types of properties. Now they can search and compare the options like for like.
For landlords and agents, the key benefit is better visual representation of their properties leading to more enquiries, which is clearly working given the boost of activity. Coming soon will also be automated property feeds for letting agents and optional rent collection services for landlords.”
Rob Jones from Code Computerlove added: “The site has been transformed taking an iterative approach, focusing on key user journeys and interactions - areas delivering the most value and testing every release so that we were confident that the site was delivering exceptional results from the start of the roll out process. In addition to the hugely impressive increase in enquiries, bounce rate has also dropped by almost half and conversion is up.”
Simon set up Accommodationforstudents.com in 2000 after experiencing first-hand the difficulties in finding suitable student accommodation. Today, the site is visited by more than 3 million students every year and advertises properties for 32,000 UK private landlords, 1,200 letting agents and more than 500 private halls of residence.
AFS also employs over 50 students on a part time basis and recently moved to new offices in the heart of the Northern Quarter in Manchester, where it has access to top digital talent and 99,000 students across four universities.