Congratulations to Kelly Roark, occasional contributor to this blog, who has taken a new position with Frontdoor.com as their new VP of Interactive Sales and Development.

Kelly, as many of you know, was formerly VP of Industry Development with Trulia.com. More on ClickZ.

In addition to acquiring some great talent though, Frontdoor has also updated its site with a bit of a face lift. The homepage has been transformed to a much cleaner experience.

What I wrote when Frontdoor first launched (see Scripps Cracks Open the Door):

I also don’t think they’ve quite nailed down the separation of content and search. The homepage seemed awfully crowded with information, which potentially could confuse consumers. Scripps should take a page from the Real Estate 2.0 play book and look to pare down the homepage a bit.

This time around they’ve definitely improved the look of the site. Search is much more clearly displayed at the top of the page and you can quickly switch between searching listings and content.

Video is still above the fold as are three of their ‘hero’ stories – though one of the links (‘Types of Homes’) seems to be broken…

Striking the right balance between content and search is going to be key to Frontdoor’s success. And if they can nail it, they stand a really good chance of doing big things in this space.

It’s still a work in progress and their making quick strides in the right direction. Personally, I still think there is a little too much happening on the homepage – and especially when you dive down into some of the content pages (e.g Buy a Home) it gets really confusing.

I know firsthand (from working on the new Inman.com) how challenging it is to build a decent content section and I’m certainly not going to pretend I have all the answers. But my instinct is still telling me less is more, especially on the homepage, and there needs to be better flow on the content pages – my eye jumps around far too much on them.

On the search side. I like how quick the search results are returned. Frontdoor’s implementation of neighborhood boundaries is really slick too. I love how I can punch in a zip code, then immediately jump to the right neighborhood I’m looking for. It really is a much more natural way of kicking off a real estate search. I’d love to be able to combine multiple neighborhoods though.

Like Zillow and Trulia, Frontdoor is sourcing the listings from broker partners and its inventory feels a little sparse (in the areas I was searching anyway). And Frontdoor fails the Joel-Lunchtime-Dogwalking-Test by returning exactly none of the homes I know (from my lunchtime walks with my dog, natch) are for sale in my neighborhood.

But I know they’re working busily on that front as well as on making the upgrades to the site. I’d expect to hear some more on that front very soon.

UPDATE: Inman News reports Prudential’s listings going to FrontDoor.com as well as Trulia (see Trulia Ropes in Prudential?)

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