Behind the scenes of Discover
To find out exactly what
our latest site design is all about, I interviewed two of the
clever minds behind Discover. Designer Brendan Katernick and
developer Evan Seabrook tell all about the making of
Q: How would you describe the style of the new website? Who do you think it will appeal to?
Brendan – The Discover site builds on our design for Vision with some more modern enhancements. I think it will appeal to single agents and smaller teams because it will provide them with a feature set that will allow them to compete with some of the larger corporate sites.
Evan – I agree. It's built on past sites such as the Fredrik and Vision, but because of the new product work that's gone into it, it feels more cutting edge. In terms of appeal, I think more about the intent of the real estate professional; if someone is trying to emulate enterprise organizations or compete with the portals, they will be attracted to this site.
Q: Tell us about the new IDX side-by-side map and listing search. Why will consumers love it?
Brendan – There have been advances in our industry, but also outside our industry, where searches now deliver information in real time. Consumers expect to get information faster than ever before, and this expectation drove a lot of our work with the new IDX map and listing view. On Discover, as consumers search for a property, they can find what they are looking for without having to leave the page or wait for data to load. We changed the way that the site loads data so that people can get this information faster in real time. We want our customers to be able to deliver a site experience that is just as good as, if not better, than some of the big industry players.
Evan – Speed and performance were at the front of our mind, as it always is. Usability was also a major consideration and we want consumers to feel it’s intuitive and acts as they expect. We also built this feature in a way that will enable us to use the technology in future designs.
Q: What do you think about when designing for mobile use and what makes a good mobile experience?
Brendan - A good mobile real estate site should have the same features as the desktop, and it should be easy to find those features and fast to use. A consumer shouldn’t have to think too hard about what they are trying to do, it should feel natural.
With Discover, the new IDX search experience maintains functionality on mobile; it will allow you to switch between the two different views. We also try to incorporate actions like swiping instead of tapping for actions like viewing a slide show of pictures because that’s what people expect to do.
Evan – From a development point of view, data usage, performance, and responsiveness are my priorities when building for mobile. We need to ensure that the website scales down to limits of the device’s screen while maintaining clear and easy access to the most important controls. When it comes to performance, we need to carefully balance things like photo quality, with load speeds and data usage so that consumers who visit our customer’s sites are not surprised by large phone bills. It’s a capability that REW has collectively learned over the years and we apply these principles across all of our mobile products.
Q: Our websites are known for their search engine friendliness. How do you ensure that each new site design is both appealing to consumers and search engines?
Evan – The first job of search engines is to crawl the web and build an index. We need to ensure our websites are built in a way that allows search engine crawlers to read and index the content. This means that we need to balance static content which is easily read by crawlers, with dynamic content that is dependent upon the user’s input. We also need to design our sites so that our clients can easily create and update meaningful content, which will impact the popularity and relevance of the site.
Brendan – There are a lot of things that we do to all areas of our sites to ensure they are well optimized and user-friendly, so I'll mention two which I feel are really important. The first is images; they need to look good on every screen size and not be too large in file size. We do quite a bit of work on the backend when our clients upload an image to optimize it. The other is site structure and page structure; when people can find what they are looking for where they expect it to be, then they stay on a site longer, which also tells the search engines this is a quality site.
Q: What’s your favorite new feature?
Brendan – My favorite feature is the new community details page. We put a lot of focus on making the pages stand out more. They have a similar feel to the enhanced listing page, with a large cover photo as well as scrollers on listings, and a more modern data display. We’ve included space for more images, so my hope is that our clients embrace the use of imagery to tell the story of a community.
Evan – My favorite feature is the hybrid IDX search for sure. It pushed the envelope for REW technology and having a cool, responsive new IDX search makes us more competitive on the market.
Thanks Brendan and Evan!
Learn more about Discover here.