The ability to create saved map searches, including polygon and radius technology, is here!
Throughout 2010, we've slowly rolled out our latest masterpiece: it's the new version of our custom IDX (v's 3.0, 3.1), and it is awesome!
However, for our clients who already love their existing REW site and its v2.x IDX, the choice of whether to scrap their old IDX for the new one, is a big decision. So, this page will describe the significant differences introduced in the new IDX platform.
Better, Flexible Search Results:
Your users can customize their browsing experience by changing the format of search results (thumbnails, list view, or mapped).
A Better Registration Box
If you're a fan of forced registration (it is now within your control - see below), then you'll appreciate the new registration "page". It's a thickbox popup now, which means that the user gets a glimpse of the page that they are trying to view, in the background, as they think about whether they would like to register. We think that they are more likely to register, with that little bit of a tease.
More Compelling and Intelligent User Account Control
As soon as the user encounters listings on a site with IDX 3.0, they see an option at the top to "Save this Search", even if they have not registered. This option is present at all times, above the search results.
Contrast this with our older IDX interface, which only presents the "Save search" option on the search form, before the user has seen any properties – before they know that the search criteria they entered will return viable results. With the option now appearing alongside the results of a search, users are more likely to want to save the search. And we all know how important that is, since it brings your website into the users' email inboxes.
The system for bookmarking favorite listings is also improved, with fewer clicks required and a more intuitive functionality.
Attractive, Photo-Friendly Details Pages
The new property details pages are bigger now, allowing for more photo space and a grander impression.
Highly-visible call-to-action buttons encourage your users to request more information, bookmark, etc.
The "Get local" & Streetview search features now show with the map:
Users can also "share" each listing via their Facebook and Twitter accounts, with the snazzy new icons we added.
And finally, the most important listing criteria are writ large on the new pages (the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, the square footage, and the lot size). This is much more friendly to the users who want to scan LOTS of properties on your site.
MUCH More Backend Control for the Admin
The IDX Builder
Now, you can set the default parameters that appear pre-selected in your search, yourself, anytime. Do you want the property type pre-set to "condos"? No sweat. Or maybe you'd like to get fewer inquiries for $150,000 properties — just change the minimum default value on the price range selector. Do you think nobody cares about elementary schools in your region? Leave that selector out!
You control the default "View Type" (thumbnails, list view, map view), and the sort order ("highest price to lowest" or vice versa).
You can also change your "cities list" (the cities whose properties are searchable on your site) anytime, yourself. This used to be something our programmers had to do.
Another popular addition is the ability to manage the registration options! Because it's such an important part of lead generation, the registration needs to be something you can modify whenever you want. With this new feature, you have a lot of options:
- Choose whether to require registration to view property details
- "Yes, always"
- "Yes, but make it optional"
- After [x] number of properties have been viewed
- Choose whether to require the user to use a password (if this is disabled, anyone who fills out your contact form, thus giving you their contact info, can view properties, save searches, etc.)
And finally, you can now edit the textual/image contents of the registration page and the login form!
Listings Snippets are now 100% Easier
The best thing about an integrated IDX is that you can setup "filters" or "preset searches" to display dynamic lists of properties on your pages. In other words, you can tell the IDX to put listings over $1.5M downtown on your "Luxury Properties Downtown" page. That is not new to IDX 3.0, but it is now MUCH EASIER. Before now, you had to get your hands dirty in code, which (for our typical client) meant hours of confusion, or paying our programmers to set up these "snippets" for you.
With IDX 3.0 however, this is as easy as performing a search on your own site, then saving it as a snippet, and pasting it onto a page. No clunky code, no arcane abbreviations for different fields, etc.! A very complex drilldown of criteria (short sale condos under $350k, downtown, with pools, and close to Downtown Elementary) now takes one minute to setup.
This is a neat feature. Imagine sending a search results page to a lead, with the properties filtered how you choose, and with a "refine search" bar that allows them to filter the search, but only according to the criteria you specify.
So for example, if someone's grandmother needed a little cottage by a lake, you could send her a link to a pre-set search, with "lakefront: yes" and her price range already selected and out of sight, leaving only a few search options (or none) for her to change.
It's similar to how you could already create saved searches for users in the older IDX; but now, they can refine the list as they view it, and you can also control the terms of the refinement.
New Map Search Tools
The map search has come a long way. With the new radius tool, polygon tool, and "Search in Bounds" option, the map search is extremely useful. And, as explained below, these new features make it SO EASY for you, the admin, to create very finely-tuned geographical searches (v. 3.1+ only*).
- Polygon tool - This gives complete control over which geographical area is being searched.
- Radius tool - This searches for properties within a certain distance of a given point.
- Search in bounds - Searches for listings in the area shown by the present map pane (no more "clustering").
The users will enjoy these tools, but where they really shine, is when you're creating a search to send to a user, or when you're creating a listings snippet.
For example, let's say you have a page with information about a certain golf course, or lake, or college. Using the radius tool, you can easily create a dynamic list of properties to show on that page – it would show all properties within a certain radius of that location. Zing!
Or, let's say your board's list of "areas" is not as fine-tuned as the list of neighborhoods that your users want to search for. Perhaps the IDX feed only drills down as far as "downtown", but there are 20 distinct neighborhoods downtown. Using the polygon tool, you can specify exactly which coordinates will be included in your "Commercial District" search.
Enhanced Performance (Load Times, etc.)
A New Kind of Search
(Note: The following feature is not relevant to the re-releases of LEC's 2-4, and should be ignored unless you have a template.)
With IDX 3.0, your leads see listings right away, without having to fill out a form. They see all of the listings that match the criteria you set as defaults in your backend. They can use the "Refine" bar to narrow things down from there.
While it's true that most of your users will want to filter the list according to their price range, etc., it is also clear that your users are excited to see inventory as soon as possible. This is especially true for those users who are shopping for which real estate site they will commit to using, over several months of searching for a home. Our new IDX shows inventory right away (in a pleasant, professional design), so that more users stick around.
*A note on IDX versions:
IDX v.3.0 was released earlier in 2010, available on LEC5 or with any of the new "3.0" templates. In this October promotion, however, the version being released is IDX 3.1. The additions since version 3.0 include:
- Ability for user or admin to save searches based on polygons or radii.
- Performance (speed) improvements
- When the admin views a lead's "visits", they are organized by "time" so that you can more easily see the order in which the lead navigated the site's pages
- Slightly improved backend interface for viewing leads' saved searches (more information is included at a glance)