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Providing community and digital support for residents

In the current economic climate, the housing association industry is making it possible for people to have a comfortable home and build a life in their community. But with demand increasing, it’s only right that housing associations have the right tools in place so they can give the ultimate experience to their customers. A digital platform enables them to get the support they need at the click of a button, all from the comfort of their home.

As an industry leader, it was time for Notting Hill Genesis to reevaluate their digital presence. With a pool of developments across vibrant communities in London, the housing association realised they needed to do more to give their customers an industry-leading website that supports their content and journey needs.

More than just a home

Notting Hill Genesis is a not-for-profit organisation that focusses on providing safe and comfortable homes at below-market rents for people in London. More than just a place to stay, the team offers their customers an opportunity to build a life for themselves and be part of a community.

Having established themselves as one of London’s largest housing associations and a leading advocate and trusted partner to local councils, Notting Hill Genesis decided it was time for a new and exciting website for both arms of the association, Notting Hill Genesis and NHG Homes – that aligned with their messaging and values and reflected their status and position in the market.

At Spindogs, we understand that a new website isn’t just a box-ticking exercise for housing associations. A website should be a digital platform that helps customers feel connected and heard, supporting them with finding homes, managing their accounts, or making them feel comfortable reaching out when they need extra support. As champions for housing associations, helping Yorkshire Housing and Southern Housing to deliver the most effective communication and services to their customers, we were delighted to partner with Notting Hill Genesis on this project.

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Notting Hill Genesis trusted us to develop two websites that not only reflected the new brand, but also encouraged their customers to self-serve and get the support they needed within a couple of clicks.

— Dan Evan-Hughes Senior Designer, Spindogs

Driving engagement and a better customer experience

Ultimately, the main goal for the new NHG Homes website was to enhance the customer experience through clever design, improved functionality, and intuitive layouts. By prioritising these elements, we aimed to ensure that their customers could access the information they need, while simultaneously enhancing NHG Homes’ lead quality.

The new website should attract potential residents to view the developments and encourage them to book a viewing or learn more about a home. The previous website didn’t guide or educate users on the homes available and there was a lack of information about them. This website needed to boast about the homes available, providing features and tools to help users find a new home that was attractive to their lifestyle and budget, feeding their appetite to want to find out more and register their interest.

On the other hand, the Notting Hill Genesis website needed to be a digital platform that was resident-focused and enhanced their experience by facilitating self-service options and providing the information they needed to manage and feel comfortable in their homes.

Pushing the visual boundaries

Notting Hill Genesis were in the process of rebranding their sales arm to NHG Homes, wanting to portray a new, warm, and exciting look that reflected their reviewed messaging and values. Although a third-party agency created the new brand, the team trusted us to be an ally in their vision and to deliver a digital design system that echoed the brand and met usability and accessibility standards. Taking shapes and the colour palette from the new brand, we created a set of flexible page templates that complied with the primary palette to ensure customers had a user-friendly and accessible experience. With the flexibility of the site and new branding, we were able to push the boundaries to provide NHG Homes with a fun shop window, throwing complementary colours in areas such as the headers, testimonials, and content blocks, to help bring the new brand to life.

Similarly, with the Notting Hill Genesis site, the aim was to create a digital experience but with a focus on supporting existing customers. Customers needed to be able to find the information they needed through a simple and effective user interface (UI) and user journey. With that in mind, we needed to ensure that the website not only reflected the new brand guidelines but also complemented the user journey, providing synergy at every touchpoint. We designed fail-safe, flexible content blocks that could be used anywhere across the site, enhancing the user experience and helping customers find what they were looking for with ease.

Delivering a digital experience

As part of any project of this size, we must interrogate the current state of the website and identify opportunities to ensure we deliver an effective customer experience. We call this the discovery phase, which includes a series of exploration sessions. We held several sessions with the Notting Hill Genesis team to define user personas and their user journeys, confirm how the website would work from a technical perspective, and recommend any features and functionality that would enhance the user experience. These sessions were key for informing the design and development of both websites.

Umbraco was the right choice of platform for developing these sites. With an easy-to-use CMS, Umbraco provides fully customisable pages that would complement the brand refresh and make it easier for the team to manage and edit the content on both sites.

The current website wasn’t user-friendly and didn’t provide existing and new customers with a reassuring experience, especially on mobile. The mobile experience didn’t support customers with finding a home or make it easy to find information about developments. As the map didn’t show on mobile properly, customers would have to scroll through pages of search results to find a property that met their requirements, which was frustrating and time-consuming. To combat this, we provided mobile-first designs for a set of key pages that demonstrated how users would be able to navigate the website on mobile and find a home that matched their criteria, within as few steps as possible.

Notting Hill Genesis had a strict IT system, which meant that there was a lot of cross-collaboration to ensure a smooth transition. We collaborated closely with their infrastructure team to ensure a smooth change between systems and to quickly action any IT-related issues. We also helped their IT team with producing technical documentation for them to successfully create and receive technical reports designs from the system.


Supporting new and existing customers

A critical challenge that we had to overcome was managing Notting Hill Genesis’ API integrations with their CRM system. With lead generation as a target for NHG Homes, the website required an API connection that integrated with the CRM system. This would enable customers to book a viewing and submit their interest in a development online within a couple of clicks.

Likewise, the Notting Hill Genesis site needed to help existing customers self-serve online and get in touch using the website rather than the phone. Forms were set up on the website and integrated with the CRM to enable existing customers to contact the customer service team through the portal and on other key pages throughout the website.

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Search is really important when it comes to enhancing the digital experience as it means users can find what they’re looking for, like finding a home in their preferred location or help with fixing a leaking tap, with ease. The search functionality didn’t meet expectations on the existing site. Users were limited by what they could search for and were unable to filter their search by development or budget – two of the main reasons why users visited the site. Also, the search results didn’t offer alternatives if there weren’t any properties available. Using our expert knowledge, we provided an interactive solution to create an affordability calculator that not only integrated with the API, but most importantly, made it possible and fun for users to find a home in their desired location. This bespoke search functionality enables users to filter their search by location and budget that are based on their salary and income, giving them results that match their criteria.

Collaboration and consistency

From the beginning, we have provided consultancy and agile management throughout the project, sharing our recommendations and expertise to ensure that both websites launched to the highest standard and in line with each other.

Working closely with a third-party media partner on the NHG Homes site, we completed the SEO launch, which involved setting up GA4 for reporting and making sure the website was optimised for SEO. Having access to a robust data reporting dashboard is super important for housing associations to understand what their customers are searching for and how they are navigating the website so that they can improve the website and be confident that they’re delivering an effective customer experience.

We also provided the NHG Homes team with more insights by implementing a bespoke data layer on the website. This means that the team can view what users are searching for, what properties and features they are interested in, and get a better understanding of how popular their properties are and how they’re performing.

Putting your customers first

As we move into the next phase of the project, which would see a members’ area added to the website, we continue to focus on delivering an accessible digital experience for new and existing customers. Collaboratively, we have made it easier for new customers to find a home and helped existing customers find the information they need to build their lives and make their Notting Hill Genesis property a London home.

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