Peak Redesign Case Study

The Client

A fully integrated housing real estate company, Peak Campus acquires and manages student living communities in college towns across the US. Peak currently manages 65 modern, fun and engaging student housing options.

Peak Case Study Intro

The Challenge

Although all students need a place to live when they go off to school, it can be a challenge to compete in the housing market and make students fully aware of their options. Furthermore, there is an added challenge in that most students need to get approval from their parents or guardians in order to pay for rent. Thus, the need to convince before signing a lease is two-fold.

The sites also lacked full responsiveness, creating a difficult mobile experience. With roughly 73% of the overall site traffic originating from mobile devices, this was a major hinderance to the overall performance and effectiveness of Peak's sites.

From a functionality perspective, there was a need for a more robust resident portal. Peak wanted their residents to be able to pay for rent, renew leases and submit repair requests all from the property website.

This student-focused company wanted to lease out 100% of their communities across the nation and improve the awareness of their properties through online site traffic.

The Research

The first step was to completely understand the performance of the main Peak Campus site as well as the conversion rate and pain points for the individual property sites. Serving as the jumping off point, the Peak Campus website was missing the one main aspect that would have helped funnel users to the property sites – an apartment search call to action. As a result, the home page had a 68% bounce rate during the previous peak season. While not horrendous, there were definite opportunities for improvement.

The property sites had their own list of issues. The conversion rates were less than ideal and the layout proved to be difficult to navigate. Peak wanted the property sites to convey a more youthful message, but in this effort, the original layout that was universal to each property made information hard to access. Lastly, the property home pages lacked a clear-cut call to action which was a contributing factor to the low conversion rates.

Peak Old Designs

The Approach

After indentifying weak points in the search and application process, I started plotting out new layouts for the Peak and all property sites. This process began with pencil and paper sketches and prototypes allowing for quick changes and ease of creation for multiple ideas to test. The entire redesign is based on the three core principles that form the foundation I use when creating new or improving existing products: clarity, usability and hierarchy.

Peak Sketch Prototype

The main objective for the Peak home page was to make the ability to search by location more accessible. Adding a color-contrasting button with relevant copy was the first step. Next, the reorganization of the property search page would have to be simple enough to avoid confusion but robust enough to house effective search and filter abilities.

A secondary aspect of the Peak home page we wanted to improve was retaining the B2B nature while providing more information on their management and development services. Allowing for more content to elaborate on these services was a simple solution. We dove deeper and create a development inquiry form that allowed companies to submit information and denote interest in doing business with Peak Campus.

The property pages needed a flexible template that would house all pertinent information for each individual property. We wanted to go with a clean, more modular design in order to allow for mobile responsiveness and easily accessible content.

Peak Sketch Prototype

The Testing

This project allotted for usability testing to be conducted. We utilized in order to get quick results and reactions to the prototypes we had developed. Our first take on the property search proved to be subpar as the page experienced small goal completion percentages as well as higher-than-preferred bounce rates at 52%.

We tweaked the design to only search by state as opposed to including proximity, univeristy, and apartment spec filters. With this change, the results greatly improved and we continued on with the process.

The Results

As the site launched, detailed goal tracking was implemented and some really positive results were observed. Overall, the Peak properties experienced a 525% increase in leads within the first 6 months after the changes went live. Also, the bounce rate of the Peak Campus home page dropped to 42% during the same time span. The team's combined effort resulted in reaching the goals set forth at the beginning of the process.

Peak New Designs

The website overhaul contributed to a 525% increase in leads for Peak Campus locations.

Peak Campus

Responsive Website

See This in Action Back to Project

Team: Laura Bowman, Jason Guevara, Amy Farrow & Georgi Borisov

Role: Visual design, UX/UI design, Art Direction

Client: Peak Campus

Year: 2014

Back To Peak Campus Project Page

Designed in the ATL.