We have released a whole new platform, a ground-up rebuild that leaves the old site and focuses us to the future of delivering the best property finding experience in NZ. The process to this day began last year with conversations. Conversation grew into discussions and discussions grew into concepts.
We heard loud and clear from our current users of the site, and those who did not use it, what they liked, what they did not like and what they wished someone would give them – the latter component is so key, and yet at the same time so elusive as to be able to easily define what people really want when sometimes even they cannot articulate it.
We also took the opportunity to review the global leaders in real estate online solutions across the world, sites like Realestate.com.au in Australia, Rightmove in the UK and in the US Trulia and Zillow. These would be the sites that guided (but were not allowed to constrain) our thoughts and ideas.
Zipping ahead to today. We have built a new website that is different, certainly that is clear from some of the flow of emails received so far, as clearly people are not accustomed to change, however the feedback has been balanced. The essential focus of the new site is to allow anyone to use the site to easily accomplish two related but very different tasks – browsing and researching. These are two behaviours of real estate online search that are critical to understand in order for our site to deliver a unique and valuable experience.
This is the start of any property buying (or renting experience) – it is typified by a “lean back” mode in the chair to view the screen – here the task is to chose a location and then browse through images in a large format in which property images can be scanned. This is achieved in the search result page for any location. Any property listing can be assessed by flicking through the portfolio of images without ever leaving the search results thereby ensuring you have your options in front of you.
A likely task before even scanning these images is the filtering of the properties in the area. This is done now using the right hand navigation with sliders to tightly define the key metrics of price, size of property. This filtering typically allows the user to refine the shortlist to a couple of dozen – ready for research. The great capability of the new site is that adjustments to these sliders does not require the “update” button – rather updates are made dynamically as you make a change allowing you to refine from 400 properties down to 20.
This stage in the process is far more investigative and is typified by a “lean forward” mode in the chair closer to the computer terminal. At this stage it is all about capturing your favourites and this requires you to set up your “My Property” feature on the site. Doing this ensures that your properties and saved searches are always accessible from any computer. Storing your favorites from the search results then allows you to view each property in detail on the listing page.
This presentation is all about big images and rich content, both from the listing agents, as well as location based data such as Google maps and Zoodle property information. This is the stage when you can start to enquire about the property or plan to view open homes all of which are accessible from that listing page.
There is much we have learned over the past year that we have yet to implement, that is what will provide us with a great roll out of new functionality in the coming months, however it was important to get the new site live and bedded in – this does sometimes take a few days, and consequentially some issues, so we would ask for your patience.
Of course the other major change you will be aware of is the fact that the new Realestate.co.nz only features residential and lifestyle properties for sale or rent. The comprehensive content of commercial properties are now found on Prime Commercial, with businesses for sale on Prime Business and the agricultural sectors served by nzFarms.
This provides an introduction to the new site – future articles will highlight some of the key features of the site.