I have wrote about these guys before, and I am doing it again. I love this company, and how the tackle the web and their web presence. Houston Real Estate, also known as VIP Realty uses several techniques to get their desired visitor action. The use parallel designs, multiple domain names, and different methods to get visitors feedback.
Their recent change was to their search form. The form is designed for a speedy submission, and an easy submission. There is lots of criteria to go by when looking for a new home, so a search form needs to be pretty extensive. How do you solve? Use drop downs. How do you keep it from being cumbersome? Group form types. See example: Houston Flat Fee MLS
Looking at the example I have taken a screenshot from, you will see the first two boxes are just basic text boxes, and then the rest are drop downs. Where do most webmasters mess things up? They throw the text boxes in the middle someplace slowing down the users experience. As it is now, a user uses the keyboard then move to the mouse to input form data. Grouping keeps the back and forth movement between the two to a minumum. I have said this before, but I can not say it enough because I have seen countless forms that just do not follow this basic advice. Group your forms by type, and group the user movements. It’s a basic usability tip for you.