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Ken Taylor, KT Communications, Monaghan
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Kieran Doyle, Ecoklens
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Ruth Little, Samhain Consulting
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Ivan Craige, HLS, Ashbourne, Co. Meath
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Eleanor Swan, Eleanor Swan Artist
Website Development Case Study on www.PropertyPartners.ie
This website development, website design and mobile website case study provides information on the background to and implementation of a website for Property Partners, created by The DG Group.
The DG Group was approached by the Property Partners estate agency group to deliver a new website to support their chain of agents across Ireland. They were facing a number of issues with their current website as follows:
- The design was dated and needed updating.
- They wanted the site to work natively on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets) as well as PCs and Macs.
- The website used a dated content and property management system that although functional was not the simplest to use and lacked any modern functionality.
- The client wanted to provide a simpler and more powerful property search facility for visitors.
- They required the ability for the site to automatically post property details to MyHome.ie and OnView.ie as well as social media sites.
- The existing site had hundreds of properties in the database and these all needed to be maintained and updated with little or zero downtime.
- They wanted to provide a system that automatically created property datasheets and so avoid the need for additional work by each agent.
- Finally, they wanted to provide advanced functionality for the matching of properties to buyers and buyers to properties.
Property Partners is one of the largest chains of estate agents in Ireland. The recession brought many challenges to those involved in property sales and renting and Property Partners were taking a brave step forward in paving the way for market leadership as we approached the beginnings of a financial recovery. As such we knew that the delivery of a truly 21st Century solution was critical to meeting their future goals.
We therefore implemented their new website as follows:
Clean, Attractive Yet Functional Design
During our discussions and briefing process we identified that the client was looking for a clean “portal” like design that made it as easy as possible for visitors to search for and find properties they were looking for. We therefore worked on reproducing their vision in a static JPG format that allowed us to modify and replace elements until we were able to create exactly what they wanted.
The outcome is a modern design that delivers a clean and well presented interface and menu system despite having so much content to deliver.
Desktop & Mobile Design
With the static design complete we identified the elements that had to be carried through to the tablet and smartphone versions of the design. With this identified we converted the static designs into working designs for both PC and Smartphone/Tablet browsing.
This means that the website operates natively and seamlessly on both desktop and mobile platforms and therefore allows visitors to see all pages no matter what device they are using.
This is a major step forward and greatly helps them to attract new customers (both home owners and prospective buyers) thanks to the extended reach that the mobile platform provides.
Although some of their competitors have implemented basic mobile web sites, Property Partners are the first estate agents in Ireland to now enjoy a fully functional mobile website that replicates the desktop site almost completely.
Content Management Control
The site was implemented on a built-for-purpose content and property management system that included multi-user logins per agency. This allows complete management control of the website (for both desktop and mobile pages) as well as a number of promotional tools, such as bulk emailing of prospects and QR code generation built in.
Its core strength is the simplicity of the system. Completely intuitive, it has been developed to allow anyone to manage their website with little or even no training. The system therefore allows new agency staff to be completely self-sufficient and so save money that would otherwise be spent on maintenance costs.
Simple, Powerful, Dynamic Property Searches
One of the major problems with most property websites is the amount of “0 results found” messages that visitors see when they search for very specific requirements in particular areas. This wastes their time and is very frustrating.
In reviewing how this could be improved we decided on a dynamic filtering approach whereby a search can be initiated with as little as a county selection. From there the visitor can immediately see how many different types of homes there are in that location, how many homes have X number of bedrooms and bathrooms etc. By making a selection in one area the system automatically updates the search results and the number of results next to each filter type. This can be seen in the image to the right where each filter type is highlighted in a green box.
This means that the Property Partners website virtually eliminates occurrences of “0 results found” messages and so makes the property searching process much easier and more pleasant.
Automated Posts To MyHome.ie, OnView.ie & Social Media
Property portal sites such as MyHome and OnView are a major element in the marketing of available properties. However, the management of properties on these sites can be a little onerous as it requires double and even triple inputting of content.
The same is true for Social Media, which can be very effective in promoting available properties, but can be time consuming.
Property Partners therefore requested that we automate the adding of property details on these sites so that the agent would simply add the details onto the website and with the click of a button, the details would be sent to whichever sites they have subscriptions with. From a social media perspective, the website supports Facebook & Twitter.
Seamless Transfer Of Content
We were able to extract all property details from their old database and create advanced scripts for insertion of the content into the new database. Once that was done we then worked on the finer details of the styling of content and although this still took time, it was a great deal shorter than manually transposing every property from the old site to the new. This in turn saved the client many hundreds of Euro in costs.
Their old website did not provide the ability to print out specifically formatted datasheets. Instead it simply printed the visible page from the browser, which meant that the agents had to create their own “datasheets” for each property, which took extra time.
We therefore implemented an attractive datasheet that was automatically populated with the content from the database, that they could print out for clients and that visitors to the site could print out themselves.
Buyer Finder / Property Finder
Agents today have to manually try to match properties to buyers and vice versa. The alternative is to buy or subscribe to expensive CRM type software that has this type of functionality. Property Partners therefore asked if we could provide just this functionality in some way in the site.
We therefore built the system to match the criteria required by buyers with the criteria of properties, which then allowed the agent to “find” properties for buyers when a new buyer was added or to “find” buyers when a new property was added. These lists can then be sent to the buyer/s via email with the click of a button.
This functionality will save the agents a great deal of time while simultaneously providing greater scope to sell properties to the right buyers
These are highlights of just some of the features of this website. If you would like more detail, feel free to contact us.
The design is fresh and engaging, yet simple to navigate and provides a simple, yet powerful property search function.
With only a little training the site admins have been able to manage all the content and properties on the site with a consistent layout that adds to the professional feel of the site.
A visit to the site on a smartphone delivers a fully operational mobile-friendly site that eliminates all the zooming, side-scrolling and mis-clicking associated with viewing a desktop-based site on a smartphone.
We are delighted to have been able to assist Property Partners and also with the results in terms of design, implementation and usability achieved in this project and we wish the team every success in the future.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions on the content of this page.
Franco De Bonis is a marketing professional with a unique view on the world of marketing and co-owner of The DG Group. Franco has worked in the field of sales and marketing promotion for over 20 years and was most recently the global marketing manager for Creative Labs before setting up The DG Group in January 2007.