Rent.com, the nation's largest online rental search engine, has launched a new website incorporating a responsive design. Rent.com executives say they've seen a steady increase in mobile traffic and they are aiming to deliver the best user experience possible across multiple screen sizes.
Rent.com worked with the Filament Group, a Boston based web development firm specializing in responsive web design. The Filament Group was responsible for the front-end development of the Boston Globe's responsive design that launched last year, a high-profile project that captured the imagination of the design community.
The new website incorporates new features such as a "search nearby" function that pinpoints a users current location and serves up rental listings in the general vicinity. The site also includes more ways to sort and view search results as well as "activity tracking," which enables users to save and favorite property listings to the platforms MyRent feature.
"We opted to move to responsive design because it offers the best user experience on a device without the user having to do anything; the site does all the work for them by arranging the images, text and navigation based on their devices' screen size and feature set," said Alain Avakian, chief technology officer at Rent.com. "Providing a better all-around experience will decrease friction in the user experience, lower abandonment, and increase conversion."
The revamped Rent.com will initially launch with an opt-in beta phase. The organization will maintain both websites during the roll-out period and hope to sunset the old website in early 2013. The new website is available to users through an opt-in link.
In addition to streamlining the user experience across multiple screen sizes, other factors that contributed to the decision to implement a responsive web design include the exponential growth of Internet connected devices and the networks that power them. The largest renter demographic is 25-34 years old -- a group that also demonstrates an extremely high adoption rate with smart devices.
Another significant factor is that Rent.com receives 70 percent of its traffic -- mobile and desktop -- via search engines.
"Most of our traffic comes through search engines," said Amanda McConnell, Head of Product at Rent.com. "With a growing percentage of that traffic on smaller format devices we needed to provide a full-featured, optimized mobile experience and reduce the irritation that can occur when renters browse the traditional site on a smartphone or tablet."