What was the challenge?
Propertynews.com approached us with a desire to rebuild their entire digital portfolio – across web, mobile and apps, using more modern technologies. The project began with a simple wish – to create a website that the house hunters of Northern Ireland would want to use and enjoy using, to find their perfect home.
It was not about competitor parity, but rather about starting afresh to really cater for how modern house hunters search, finding ways to thrill them through the use of innovative features and raising the bar in property portals.
The website itself was built as a fully responsive React app to create a true lightness to the site, ensuring much lighter download and faster browsing for the user.
To support the main portal, two hybrid apps were additionally created for iOS and Android, using Cordova to wrap the React based portal.
As a property portal, one of the most important functions of the site is the search. House hunters search in a multitude of ways – ranging from simple google like searches to more complex ones including multiple areas, postcodes, keywords and more. The search needed to be able to handle all these variations in a quick and, most importantly, accurate way. For this reason the search function was built using a technology called “Elastic Search’. This powerful set up permits the site to handle all variations of search including fuzzy searches, partial matching, autocompletion and prediction.
During the project, user research identified a need for a ‘search by map’ function. Many users expressed a desire to draw an area on a map that is specific to them and where they personally would choose to live. As a result, we built a powerful ‘draw on map’ feature that not only allows users to draw multiple areas, but to also erase areas, save areas and to set up property alerts that match these areas.
Other new ‘delighter’ features launched include:
My important places
auto-calculate the distance from each property to a place of your choice (local schools, office etc).
allowing vendors to pay to have their property stand out and get noticed.
notifying buyers and renters instantly when a property matching their needs is uploaded onto the site.
Add private notes to properties on the site to help keep track of ones that have been viewed or important records.
Hide properties so they no longer appear in your search results and distract from ones that are of interest.
Properties near me
instantly locate properties based on location, particularly useful for mobile users to view properties in their vicinity.
The new and improved Propertynews.com website and apps has gone on to win 2 major awards since launch.
DANI Awards 2018
Website of the Year
Property Portal of the Year