Last week I attended a rather fun event involving pizza, sushi, cupcakes and cocktails at Gumtree‘s HQ in Richmond. The main aim of the event was to give an overview of the changes they are making to gumtree.com and to tell people like us about it… The other aim was to have a bloody good time drinking cocktails and eating cupcakes. Unfortunately a combination of me being chained (voluntarily of course) to my desk at work and crap trains meant I missed the presentation but I actually saw the site beta a few months ago so I already had a rough idea. Also, since the event have been bothering the Gumtree team (Thank you Tara, Dees & Nicola) with phone calls and emails so that I have something more than just food and booze to blog about!
It’s not just for London people
One of the problems Gumtree UK has faced for a while is that you hit the site and it stinks of London. There is so much London related noise that you wouldn’t even know you’re on a site that caters for the whole UK. You can change your city and all but that doesn’t really help you if you don’t live anywhere near one of their predefined “popular” cities. All that is about to change. The new design still makes use of the faceted location options but a better search and generally improved layout makes it easier to find stuff local to you.
Find stuff near you
The old location search gave you a dropdown menu of cities to narrow down your location which was OK to a point but not really granular enough to get really local. The new search is a massive improvement on this.
Searching for stuff in your town or postcode area is a great start but you might also find it useful if someone in a village or district a couple of miles down the road has what you’re looking for. The new search will also make this possible and will continuously improve over time due to a very clever back end. I won’t bore you with the tech details but for the data mapping and search geeks out there, it’s polygon based.
It’s not scary
The old Gumtree site is scary. There’s stuff everywhere and it’s not helped by inconsistent theming and navigation. To a new user these things are intimidating and might be enough to put you off before you’ve even had a proper look around. The new site utilises space on the screen in a much better manner, is cleaner and is consistent throughout. Just simple things like having all your account controls top right all the time make a big difference. Where facets or hierarchical menus are required, they are always on the left, all the “other” navigation items that are necessary but not a part of a user’s workflow are down the bottom so as not to confuse. There is however one thing that bothers me a touch about the new design and that is that the search box is in different places on different pages. Please make up your mind where it’s going to be!
Paper classifieds are a thing of the past
By my reckoning the new site makes it as easy as those old fashioned, tree killing paper classifieds but more granular and/or diverse when required. Whether you’re buying, selling or looking for somewhere to live, Gumtree makes it easy and doesn’t waste any paper in the process. Not only that but the social features built into the site make it easy to share what you find with your peers.
Cocktails & cupcakes
Did I mention that Gumtree also know how to throw a good party? 😀
Video courtesy of James Whatley (@whatleydude)