Design and creation of real estate related portal network.
Project goals and our role in it
In september 2010 we were approached by founders of Open Zone to help their ambitious project come into life. They wanted to create a unique network of portals for real estate market.
The concept covered many aspects of web usage patterns in real estate offices, architectural design workshops and their customer environment. The network had to provide not only offer presentation and search feature for users but also the quality content like specialized articles, news, picture stories, analyses or recommendations.
We were chosen by the founders to reflect their idea in design and technology creation of the Zone
That is where the hard work begins!
At first we came up with functional assumptions for the Open Zone project first phase - definition of www.opendoor.pl portal basic functionality and its implementation
Multilevel article categories
Advanced offer search funtionality
Basic offer search functionality
Login and registration
Private and business users with different options
Promotion and advetising section
Many websites sharing the same data
Common userbase for whole Zone
User panel with access to funtionalities of all servicres in the Zone
Free and paid services
Intuitive and powerful admin dashboard
Whole bunch of other interesting functionalities was analyzed and planned for the further implementation steps. We will tell you about them in the following part...
18 workshop hours spent on anlysis of the needs and creation of the preliminary functionality description
15 hours spent on creation the pre-implementation documentation
30 pages of the pre-implementation documentation
Choosing the right technologies
28 hours spent on anlysis and workshops with the development department to choose the optimal solution
With the basic functionality description we could proceed with prototyping. We began with simple wireframes.
After this part we could refine the functionality of all the elements and proceed with the technical analysis.
37 sketches to show how the serivce works for users
24 hours of UI/UX workshops
15 Use-Cases created
Axure as a main tool
Technical specification and prototype
With the pre-implementaion documentation and the interface project the next step was to create the detailed website specification. The biggest challenge was to plan the architecture perciving the implementation of further funtionlities during subsequent development phases, after the first website is launched.
what's next? creation of subsequent websites of the Zone and constant development
Each new idea implementaion followed a proven scheme:
Tests, bugfixing, launch
This was the successful way for new Open Zone elements implementation
Statistics and anlyses data presentation is a main featrue of this website. It utilizes data gathered via opendoor.pl.
Statistics comprising max., min. and av. sqm. prices
Statistics division per biggest polish cities
Intuitive presentation in form of graphs and tables
Simplified way for adding new locations for statistics
Data updated periodically
Real data from polish market
31 hours spent on analysis and creating documentation
98 hours of implementation works
This portal main functionality is an offer and POI presentation with Google Maps. This feature allows user to find offers they are interested in within certain location. With POI markers the user can easily find out what kind of public offices, shops or services are localized in the area of interest.
Google Maps API
Searching and filtering the on-map search
40 unique POI markers
Extended core and functionality of the webservice
New user functionality- vcards for business and specialists
POI and vcard management via admin dashboard
27 hours spent on analysis and creation of the documentation
223 hours of implementation works
Dedicated to pleasat and interesting presentation of photos and picture stories related with real estate market. Textual content is minised to only what is neccesary.
Picture stories and footage are selected by editorial office
High quality pictures
Extended core and functionality of the webservice
New user functionality- picture stories submission
Picture stories management and moderation via admin dashboard
7 hours spent on analysis and creation of the documentation
45 hours of implementation works
User Generated Content
This was another step towards social media type of service. From this point users who were interested in sharing their materials and knowledge could become involved as authors and editors and publish their content. Well organised evaluation and publication process allowed to keep the published content of high quality.
Editorial module extension
New user roles: author, editor, Editor in Chief
Intuitive articles evaluation and publication process
User panel extension with new functions
13 hours spent on analysis and creation of the documentation
126 horus of implementation works
Introducing offer and tools dedicated to developers facilitates the expansion of e-service on new markets. Here are some new features we provided:
New user type: Developer
Grouping a set of offers in one building
New Investments section promotion
Subdomain for developer website with special features
New features in user dashboard
New property type: Investment
Properties section receives new filed types dedicated to Investments
Search feature modifications
8 hours spent on analysis and creation of the documentation
51 hours of implementation works
Importing data from desktop programs used by real estate offices
One of the main features for extending the reach of services to main target group - real estate offices. Almost all the offices on that market use MLS system on daily basis. This allows new offers to be automatically visible for other connected offices.
As an addition those programs allow automatic publication on popular websites - we wanted to let them publish the offer on Opendoor.pl as well.
The main issue was diversity of program solutions which are in use. We had to design the mechanism taking that into account and provide all those users with most comfortable publishing feature.
The second issue was the program developers' reluctancy to spending additional time just to implement a feature that is requested by a startup.
The polish MLS class program market is divided between 23 companies. Their popularity depends on the area of specialization of the offices and their geopgraphical location. It is possible that within one city there are many groups of offices using various programs.
Task: Create the solution easiest to implement by program producers, so they would introduce the new feature quickly.
Solution: To find out and utilize the technological standard used by biggest players on the polish real estate portals market and program producers.
Finding an easy to implement solution to minimize the costs for MLS system producers
Adjusting import mechanisms to operate on various XML file structures
Bonding offers to one user in the system
Periodical updates(modification, deletion) of offers
Imported offers management via user and admin dashboards
Mapping the descriptive fields between XML and the structure of offer on the website
Seach feature optimisation mechanisms (SOLR).
And other countless features and modifications which we can't even enumenrate...
39 hours spent on analysis and creation of the documentation
105 hours of implementation works
18 months of hard work on the project
with the team of 7 people