The past few months we’ve been working with Daniel Island on a new website, one that would represent a turn in online real estate marketing. The challenge was to create a real estate site that’s easy on the eyes and more importantly easy to use. If you look at most real estate sites available today they are made from “clutter” templates… you know the ones. They put 50 boxes on the front page and have, at a minimum, 7,500 words of copy. If you drown and overwhelm your visitors you can bet they’ll be off your site in less than 20 seconds.
Ok, I won’t keep harping on bad real estate sites. There is just not enough time in the day!
Back to Daniel Island and all the cool things happening for this cutting edge real estate developer. We set out to create a site that was not only easy to use for visitors but easy to update and use for the marketing crew behind the scenes. We did a good bit of research on the different technologies that would accommodate what we wanted to do. We landed on WordPress. Yes, the ‘blogging’ platform. We heard from many developers/programmers and such- you can’t do that, it’s not worth the time.. blah, blah, blah… We did it and if I didn’t tell you it was a WordPress core you’d have probably never known.
Yes, we manipulated the backend of WordPress pretty hard. We designed and created a custom ‘theme’ that had some special needs but in the end the marketing team had a simple interface to use to edit their site- WordPress.
The next challenge was to connect our newly built WordPress site to Propertybase. Propertybase is a custom built CRM that integrates with the Salesforce platform. Propertybase/Salesforce handle all the properties that Daniel Island has listed… the details, media and sales history. We were able to pick and choose what information fed the new site. We also are able to connect the contact form to Propertybase so that it handles what Salesforce was really built for… Customer Relations. Propertybase is also on the edge of their technology- which made it easy to integrate with the new site.
Of course every real estate site needs a map to show their properties! We decided to use Google maps. Google has recently released their V3 API which allows us to do so many cool things. First we simply connected the map with data pulled from Propertybase and we had properties mapped in no time… so what’s so neat about that? Nothing really. However, Daniel Island has a custom ‘Real Estate Map’ they use. This map was developed locally by an engineering firm and was colorized/drawn for a warm & fuzzy non-boring map piece. We took this map and with GPS coordinates created an overlay for our Google map. Now, it’s a cool looking map with all the properties showing up on a pretty map.
One other feature we decided to add was a Daniel Island MLS search. We didn’t want to provide a full Charleston wide MLS search site- this isn’t the purpose of the new Daniel Island site but users often wonder what else is available around Daniel Island. Now they know and can inquire about any properties around Daniel Island. If you know anything about MLS then you know how backwards and ancient the technology is. Not fun to deal with but it’s working!
With technology evolving as fast as I can type this piece we wanted to create a site that was easily adaptable to future technologies. We used platforms and solutions that we feel are a safe bet for future development. WordPress, Salesforce and Google- pretty sure these pieces are going to be around a while.
This was a massive group effort. The marketing crew and our crew spent countless hours fine tuning and making this site what it is. Check it out and let us know what you think!