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The New IDX (3.x) - What's the Difference?

8,718 Views

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).

Choose from thumbs, list, or map view

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.

Summary of the active search and save search option

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

Photo viewer in Real Estate Webmasters IDX 3.0

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 pages
    • "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.

Custom Searches

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.)

I don't know what to say about these (I'm no code expert), but I know that COUNTLESS hours went into developing improved markup and processes. No more inline Javascript! (It's in the bottom, now.) And we "reduced the number of external resources"! That sounds important.

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)

Comments

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Chris Ward

As a new customer using IDX 3.0, I can tell you that what Gerry is saying about snippets is 100% true. REW did an amazing job on making the product so simple to use. I'm used to jumping into huge manuals and really having to wrap my head around programming things, and this was so easy I wondered if I was missing something until I saw how great they looked on my landing page. Out of the box custom searches so easy that anyone with some experience using even something like wordpress can have powerful snippets in minutes. Now, just make sure you organize them because you will have tons now that they are so easy to make.

LisaUdy

I also have the new 3.0 IDX and I love it. Very simple to use once you get the hang of it. This was my first REW site and I figured it out on my own fairly easily.

Gerry I have a question. I am unable or don't know how, to setup a map serach for a neighborhood like you explained using the polygon feature in my backend. I also don't have search inbounds, are those the 3.1 upgrades? And do I need to pay for those extra? And how much would they cost to do?

Thanks!

MARK Z

Gerry,

Is the lead management section of the backend the same in IDX 3.0 as the one I have in my LEC 2?

GerryThomasen

Lisa:
Thanks for pointing out something I need to edit above (and I will in a moment):

IDX v.3.0 was released earlier this year as being available on LEC5 or with any of the new "3.0" templates. It is what you have on your LEC.

IDX v.3.1 is what we are actually releasing in this latest promo, as being available for a replacement of peoples' LEC2-4 sites. (It's like "upgrading" your LEC, but to be more specific, we actually have to REPLACE the LEC entirely, so customizations need to be carried over if you still need them on the new site).

It is only in 3.1 that you can save polygon/radius searches. That, as well as a bunch of performance upgrades, is what you will find different between IDX 3 and 3.1. Everything else I mentioned in my post above, is included with the original IDX 3.

....

And Mark - the differences are:

  • The IDX builder (features described above)
  • Performance upgrades
  • When the admin views a lead's "visits", they are organized with "time" so that you can more easily see the order in which they navigated your pages
  • Slightly improved backend interface for viewing leads' saved searches

LisaUdy

What does it cost to upgrade to the Polygon search? Or would I have to fully upgrade to 3.1 to get it? Thanks!

GerryThomasen

Lisa, I don't believe you can slap it in there - you would have to upgrade. The good news is, since your LEC isn't customized yet, there would just be a flat rate for the "upgrade" (while other people have to pay to import their customizations).

Mike, you are thinking of our iframed IDX product again. :)
It has different costs, depending on which features one gets. This IDX bears the same monthly costs as version 2.x, as far as I know.

Josua

So ... I'm sure this has been asked before but I can't seem to find it anywhere. What is the estimated cost for a current "custom idx" customer to upgrade to IDX 3.0?

That custom idx customer being yours truly.

Chris

What performance upgrades will there be Gerry? Will it make showing more properties at once more efficient?

What I'm starting to do is create a snippet showing like 40 properties per page (for results), and setting it to map view by default to get that affect of showing a bunch of listings on the map at once.

Carlos

I have the LEC 2 and will be switching over to the 3.1 Framework...what does this mean from your post? I know it said 'not relevant' but what will be different? Will it be just the original registration form and not listings immediately?

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.

GerryThomasen

Lisa: We still haven't determined a base-price for people wanting to upgrade their LEC5 to use IDX 3.1. I'm hoping we'll have it tomorrow.

Josh: Which kind of site would you be referring to? Your fully-custom one?

Mike T / Joshua: It goes like this: We would have to start fresh, essentially, since the new platform MUST be in place from the beginning - it can't be glommed on to the existing site. I've written another blog post talking about upgrading a REW site (totally applies to this present upgrade).

Chris (W?): I'm not 100% sure about the performance upgrades - I'm sure they're related to load times and code validation, mostly.

Carlos: Here is the demo for the new LEC2: http://2n.rewlec.com/ Note that it has the old search form, still.

Joshua Keen

Yes. I was referring to my fully custom one.

MARK Z

Gerry,

In IDX 3.1 can the user still search by subdivision, or by water name, or by school district, etc like I what I currently have in my LEC 2 ? You mentioned we will have an IDX builder does this mean I can give users the ability to search by all of these criterias?

Aaron

Hi Mark,

The new site will include all the same LEC 2 default functionality . Ex: http://2n.rewlec.com/idx/
... By water name ("By Lake") is custom so that will be transferred over in the custom time project.
The "IDX Builder" on 3.1 LEC 2 - lets you manage the "Refine Search" panels and some other configuration settings.

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