The Responsive Real Estate Map Search
We are very excited to announce the release of our new mapping platform across all Enterprise Network member sites. The project was a significant undertaking. Thanks to our amazingly talented team the mass release went smoothly and in record time. We ended up taking 25 map modules live all on the same day.
Other than wanting to clear the cobwebs off our existing mapping solution, we had many driving factors that lead us to a decision of rebuilding our map from the ground up.
Mobile has disrupted the real estate industry (as it has many others) in a major way. The fast growth in adoption has left technology providers with the significant task in adjusting their platforms to meet the needs of today's customers and their preferred methods of interaction. Our theme for 2013 was "The Journey Into Mobile" and our focus was on improving our services and gearing our platform for the mobile evolution.
A typical real estate search used to comprise of permutations of price, beds, baths and maybe even community name. In today's market, when using a mobile device, a user tends to search for properties around them. Even when searching by community/subdivision name, the old type of search used to compare data from an MLS field as opposed to a geospatial search that allows you to find properties by exact location (and therefore, by proximity to your current location).
Geospatial searches are a lot more demanding on a system that relies on a typical database structure. Our solution was to rebuild our core searching mechanism to rely on a flat file data structure, allowing for much faster processing and enhanced capabilities in natural language search.
A second adjustment was tending to the front end components and UX/UI of the map. So many maps have a lot of bells and whistles, but have overdone the process to the point that it is now harder to find homes using the map. Our goal was to keep it simple and fast. We placed extreme importance on making sure the map was responsive. A user should be able to fully interact with the map on all devices efficiently, even on the tiny space available on smartphone screens. Also, we had to ensure images (that are so important in the process of searching for homes) would not significantly slow the workflow for any user with limited bandwidth.
Lastly, we wanted to successfully implement a modular approach to the map, allowing us to customize each portion to our clients' specific needs and to have a solid foundation for new layers and functionality we plan to develop in phase two.
While phase one mostly focused on the complete structure rebuild, we couldn't resist squeezing in a few extra goodies. You can read more about the latest map features on our recent blog post.
2014's theme is "Big Data" and with the new map established, we are looking to leverage this visual platform to empower the user with easily digestible and powerful data.
You can view permutations of the new map module on any of our member sites. All feedback is welcomed and valued in our endeavor to create the ideal real estate map search.