Classifieds Website Design – Learning from the Pros

Are you working on a classifieds website?

Well, you won’t get far with the thousands upon thousands of competitors that are out there. The big players have branched out to different countries, and even different continents. Then there are many little local players too.

So how are you going to have a fighting chance? As with any business, you’re going to have to provide something unique.

Interestingly enough, providing something unique in the field of classifieds websites isn’t as hard as many would think. In fact, it may be as simple as providing a website design that’s more user friendly.

When creating the design for your classifieds website, you will want to focus on doing it in a way that your competitor’s aren’t as you don’t want to look like a copycat. You also want to be perfect in areas where your competitors are flawed.

Confused?

Let’s look at some big players and see how they have things set up, then consider how you may benefit from doing things similar or how it may be better to do it completely differently.

Gumtree

The most obvious classifieds website that’s valued as being a ‘big player’ is Gumtree. They are one of the few companies to have branched out beyond just their home country. They are also a huge household name in the UK.

With that said, let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a potential visitor. Say we go to Gumtree looking for gaming computers – this is what people see when looking for gaming computers.

What’s your first impression? I’m guessing the first thing you noticed was the paid advertisements. No one likes ads that look like Google advertisements. Heck, the three that showed up don’t even have pictures… if they had pictures, it would look a little better at least.

The settings are all fine. There may be certain cases where this isn’t true. You really have to personalize the settings by section, especially for real estate and automobiles.

The third thing I noticed was the featured listings. So here’s another paid spot. Going down eight spots, we finally have the normal listings. Featured listings are real, but the promotional aspect detracts viewers.

Going down, we find normal listings and a skyscraper ad on the left… which probably doesn’t get noticed or clicked much. No harm in having it there, but what about the possibility of fixing the search functions to the side? What I mean is, what if you were making it so scrolling down only changes the listings and you still see the categories and modifiers? There’s one idea of a unique, user-friendly approach!

Going down more, you notice a break in the page where it notes “older than today” for older listings. This isn’t a big issue, but think about it from a reader’s perspective. It’s either going to not affect them or it’s going to make them think less of the older listings. For example, they may not bother contacting the person because they figure it’s already sold. So putting something like this may not be necessary.

Then it closes off with four more paid ads. They are blocking the page number buttons, which is definitely inconvenient. It probably wouldn’t hurt just fixing the page number buttons to right under the last listing, then putting ads below that. If an ad is worth clicking, it will get clicked on.

Kijiji

Kijiji is a huge classifieds website. Kijiji is to Canada what Gumtree is to the UK.

This is what you see when you look for gaming computers.

You will notice that the color scheme is different, but the design is still much of the same. The ads aren’t as prominent. There’s a large landscape ad based on an image, which isn’t too distracting. The related search tags aren’t very valuable for this search, but it probably works well for other purposes such as house rentals.

Kijiji has three paid ads before you get to the listings. The three I see don’t have images. It’s pretty much an auto-ignore space. The bars separating the ads make it easy enough to not be turned off from them.

The settings are very effective. Users can modify by a specific location. In this case, the particular area of Toronto or a nearby city. All the other modifiers are helpful and simple.

Now onto the actual listings. You have an easy to read title, price, and location. The primary picture for the ad could be bigger – it would look nicer if the star was under the price or location and the picture took up the whole square. Other than that, the time of posting (ex. <2 hours ago, <4 hours ago, 2 days ago) is extremely convenient. This gets viewers impulses going, with responses like, “Oh, it was just listed two hours ago, there’s still a chance it’s available!”

Doing Something Different

Designing a classifieds website really is about doing something different. Otherwise, there will be no reason for anyone to bother with your empty listings. Hopefully looking at these two websites gives you a bit better of an idea of the fundamentals that work and the detracting factors that are better off left out.

If you’re onto the growth stage, here’s one invaluable suggestion for getting some listings up so people actually bother posting.

Contact local thrift shops and hock shops. Let them know that you just finished making a classifieds website. It will soon have a mass marketing campaign to attract users. Be straightforward by explaining you want some real listings up first, not fake ones. Suggest to them that you raid their inventory to put up listings of their stuff. You could even go in and take pictures of everything, do the descriptions yourself, just to automate it on their end.

The main issue they would have is updating when the items are sold. To eliminate this concern, you can always suggest to manage the ads yourself. You can set up an email address with dual access. Allowing them the access means they can take it over if your classifieds website pays off. You can keep an eye on emails and discuss with potential buyers. If someone is interested, just give the shop owner a quick call to confirm the item is available and send the buyer on his way.

There are many ways to go about designing a classifieds website, but you really have to be thoughtful. Every little thing, even the default amount of listings shown per page, has to be considered. While the website itself is basic, but a lot of programming and psychological consideration has to be made for it to be a success.

Boris Dzhingarov
Boris Dzhingarov is an author for the 'corePHP' blog. Business technology news, views and insights. Boris is a Hawaii based seo consultant, he has written many online publications about marketing trends. Boris also consults other Businesses on how to handle their online marketing campaigns and make them more successful and efficient. He also heads up 28 of her own blogs, 4 of which are currently viral due to the nature and quality of the content.