London estate agents Douglas & Gordon has seen a 140 percent increase in viewing enquiries since relaunching its website with new digital tools and functionality.
The firm said it redesigned its website in order to meet the demand from both buyers and sellers to be able to do more directly through the site, rather than have to ring an agent.
The site also lets users track the progress of rental or sale negotiations and review feedback from potential buyers or tenants as well. It also remembers more information on visitors, to try and provide more relevant searches and potential properties of interest when they next visit.
The new website has also been optimised specifically for mobile sites, rather than just as a responsive site for all devices, because the firm said so much of its traffic comes from users on smartphones.
Another big part of the overhaul saw Douglas & Gordon partner with Google Enterprise to take advantage of its mapping service so it can offer more real-time information to visitors about properties as they browse.
This includes information such as travel times between properties and schools and workplaces. Matt Easley, head of IT at Douglas & Gordon, told V3 that using this information was a logical move.
“Google has one of the largest resources to local information in the world, so it made sense to use its tools to give our clients the ability to tailor the map to their own specific needs,” he said.
“The mapping part of the website uses a bespoke Google Maps widget that makes use of the Google Maps API for Work and Google Places API. This gives customers better search capabilities like time-based travel to and from a property.
“Using the APIs, clients can now see places of interest which are updated by Google rather than us having to maintain the local information.”
The firm worked with design and technology agency Athlon on developing and incorporating the new functionality.
Meanwhile, despite using the Google Maps service, the site itself was built and hosted on Microsoft Azure cloud platform, while the firm used a combination of Prince and Agile methodologies.
Easley also explained that the firm used a programme management consultant from a firm called OPS Active to help coordinate the project.
"At the height of the development there were a total of eight companies across five countries working together to bring the site up. Daily standups for each part of the development and tri-weekly catchups between stakeholders were being held during this period," he said.
“We knew the timescale for delivering the site and had our milestones in place to make sure we kept the development on track.”
The extensive work the firm has put into its website underlines the ongoing need for businesses and organisations of all types to ensure their digital offerings are fit for purpose and meet customer requirements.
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