Vilde Serina Brunvoll
Helping landlords and tenants resolve conflicts with this accessible website.
Disagreements between landlords and tenants are something most people have heard of – or unfortunately come across themselves.
How do you resolve such conflicts as easily as possible, and how can you avoid the conflict in the first place?
Husleietvistutvalget (The Rent Disputes Tribunal) is an official body that provides guidance on tenancy matters to landlords and tenants.
If conflict occurs during the tenancy, they resolve the dispute through mediation or written decisions.
From 1. september 2021, HTU went from helping tenants and landlords the major cities – to offering services to all Norwegians.
With this in mind, they needed a new accessible website that would increase their visibility, let more people know about their offerings while also preventing conflicts before they happen with content that everyone can understand.
To inform and guide
In order for the rental market in Norway to function in the best possible way, HTU should be available with information and guidance on what rights and obligations you have – both as a landlord and a tenant.
Even though the need is there, HTU has been a fairly unknown. Most of their users actually came to them after having spoken to other organisations like Forbrukerrådet, Leieboerforeningen og Huseiernes landsforbund.
Being there for target group – at the right time
After having defined the foundation and the visual guidelines for the page – it was time to tackle the biggest issue: How to make HTU more visible, and prevent conflicts before they happen?
The first question to ask is simple: When does the target group need to become aware of HTU, in order to get help? What do they do?
We in Kult Byrå are quite critical of those who spend all their energy on SEO, while forgetting the rest of the product and user experience. (If you have a great website with good and relevant content, this will after all – solve itself.)
However, with the statistics and search data from Google (like Google Trends), it was obvious that this was one of the cases where a great SEO strategy would actually be of great help.
While some topics concerning tenancy were extensively covered by online magazines and other organizations like Forbrukerrådet, some of the keywords gave miserable search results.
Conflicts surrounding your home often come with a lot of distress and risk for both parties. Only getting help from forums like Kvinneguiden.no won’t make it better.
Making HTU visible in the search engines
While HTU had produced great content in the past, they were nearly invisible on search engines. There were two main reasons why the content didn’t show up in the search engines.
Most of the relevant content was presented in an innovative online “booklet” called “Husleieloven gjort enkelt”. At the time of launch – this was a creative innovative way to present content in a way that makes it seem way more accessible.
However, the technology used and the content structured was not ideal for letting Google index the content. Either way, it didn’t work great for users looking to research a specific topic in depth.
So, even though the online booklet got great feedback from the few people who knew about – it didn’t help much in generating traffic and making HTU known to more people.
The second problem was the titles used and lack of formatting of the content itself. It’s not enough to have one singular page or article for each topic if you want to be visible in the search engines.
The second problem was the titles used and lack of formatting of the content itself, as a result of having a long single-page app made with React.
It’s not enough to have one singular page or article for each topic if you want to be visible in the search engines.
What keywords each personen types in in the search bar will be different depending a lot of factors, most importantly – what role the person that searches has. But creating hundreds of copies of the same content, with different titles and formulations is no good for SEO either.
The solution was to prioritize and find clever ways to structure the content, to maximize the turnout for each entry.
While HTU produced the main content, we created detailed guides on how to setup up the content, format it in an accessible and SEO-friendly way and suggestions for topics to prioritize, together with concrete titles.
If you ask us “Why use Sanity as a CMS?” we could and would be tempted to talk for days on end. We could mention security, long-term use, flexibility and possibility for scaling, time saved, pricing and developer delight. But one benefit hovers over all the rest, and that is the editor experience. HTU agrees with us wholeheartedly here, and mentions this as one of the best results of the project.
Sanity feels like a delightful heaven compared to the confusing editor experience they previously had using Wordpress. The slow and cramped editor interface is now exchanged for a fast, simple interface with live previews and real time collaboration – like in Google Docs. No more crying over forgetting to press save.
Even more impressive is the way we set up Sanity to handle all the translations. HTUs dream was to have all the main content translated for several languages, instead of only having a short summary. That could save them for a lot of time, especially now that their mandate is to help all Norwegians.
For some languages (like the other official languages of Norway – nynorsk and Sami) they would prioritize to translate the most important pages, but not all them.
For other languages, they wanted to only have a summary of the most important information on the frontpage, like the original solution.
And while automatic translations could be used for some parts of the content, it would too risky to translate everything – given how important it is to be specific when it comes to the law. A tough nut to crack.
Sanity gives us several ways to solve this problem, but we opted for having all the content in one single dataset. If a new page is created, it will automatically be set to Norwegian. If needed, a translated version of the same article can be added later.
In this way, HTU is not forced to translate all the pages whenever they want to add a new language. They can choose to only translate some pages for one language, and prioritize differently for another. All in the same dataset.
The navigation will also be different for each language, depending on what pages are available. We’re proud of the final result, especially knowing all the potential horror web translations can induce. It really doesn’t have to be “all or nothing”. You can actually have both.
What HTU themselves say
– The actual CMS platform Sanity has worked very well for us. After half an hour of training, assigned employees could independently enter the desired content, says Erle Osnes, The Section Chief in HTU
– The solution is user-friendly, and the ability to create a variation between the texts, illustrations and images in a simple way provides a good user experience and accessibility
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