We'd like to wish all of our clients, partner services and suppliers a very Happy and Prosperous New Year and look forward to working with you all during 2016.
A lot has happened during 2015 so we'd like to take this opportunity to look back at the year and forward into the next one to remind you of the new features and functions that are available to you and to let you know what's happening in the world of property website design and give you an insight into the next generation of features that we are going to be developing for you during 2016
The two biggest paradigm shifts of 2015 for the web were firstly the mass adoption of Responsive Web Design (RWD) and secondly Google imposing penalties on sites that are not mobile friendly - "Mobilegeddon" as they called it.
A little over two years ago we correctly forecast the mass adoption of RWD as the framework of choice for building websites. This introduced an entirely new method of site construction, for the first time allowing a single website to work on desktop machines, tablet devices and phones. An RWD site automatically reconfigures itself to fit whichever device is being used.
2015 was the first year that we saw virtually 100% of the sites that we build being ordered as RWD sites. You can see a great many examples of these sites in our portfolio.
A big driver of this was the change in Google’s stance that they took in to account mobile friendliness. They have effectively imposed upon the world a three tier hierarchy of ranking. RWD sites will over time acquire the highest ranking (as long as the rest of the site content is structured appropriately). A desktop and companion mobile site attracts the next level of ranking and then bringing up the rear, by quite some margin are desktop only sites.
These two changes represent the biggest framework change in our industry for about 10 years.
The very good news is that nothing of this magnitude is predicted to change in 2016 or immediately beyond, but sites that have not already taken these changes into account will definitely feel the effects in 2016
Usability and Customer Journey
Lots of new buzzwords have found their way into the lexicon of web development. There are now new roles springing up with titles such as UX Specialist to describe someone whose focus is on the User Experience and therefore works to make the customer journey as efficient as possible with the aim of generating the desired business outcome.
This area of site design is rightly getting scrutiny because we know that good experiences create customers and as a core part of our design process we ensure that the user experience is uppermost in our minds.
Infinite Scrolling is a recent innovation that we can now add to sites which has been developed as a consequence of this thinking. So instead of having to click Next or Page 2,3 etc. the user can now just swipe or scroll down for more properties and the list just grows until all properties are shown as one long page.
Add-Ons and Upgrades
In October this year we made a lot of changes to our own website. Most notably we introduced an Add-ons section where you can see a fantastic collection of add-ons that you can use to improve the usability and functionality of your site. On each page you will see a description and video explaining what it is and how it works.
I would encourage you to regularly visit this page as this is where we showcase all features and will be adding to them as we release new ones.
One of the big game changers that we introduced this summer is Travel Time searching. Interestingly Foxtons have just caught up with us and are using it on their site too.
This great new tool allows visitors to search for properties that they could buy or rent based upon how long it will take to get to somewhere, like work or school. This allows them to have search results shown based on commute times, by car, public transport of foot and it makes allowance for faster and slower roads as well as slower traffic at rush periods. In short it’s generating search results that correspond with people's lifestyle ambitions.
Another big hit this year has been our New Homes Manager which is the first tool of its kind that makes it easy for you to maintain adverts for New Homes Developments and associate individual plot listings with them.
This is a doddle for you to use and gives you the opportunity of presenting your clients’ developments in an attractive and easy to maintain presentation.
What’s 2016 got in store?
We've always believed that your web site should be as good as your best negotiator at providing knowledge and information that helps empower moving decisions. Your site should be a moving resource that people come to, not just to look at properties, but to get valuable information. This generates brand penetration and gives you a chance to ask for that all important valuation request.
With this in mind I am currently working with our data partners to provide you with meaningful historic sales data in your area that we can present on your site in a way that shows how in touch you are with valuations and price movements over time. This is a very exciting project all designed to help you win instructions. We'll keep you posted on this as it develops in 2016.
We're also often asked about site traffic, how many visitors there were, how good that traffic was etc. and even though many sites have Google Analytics inside them it can prove too difficult to drill down through all the information and get useful knowledge from the stats..
For this reason we are going be developing a new Data Dashboard. We want you to be easily able to see how many times any given property has been looked at on the site, how many visitors you have had, how many valuation requests you got in any given period. What you should have got and much more besides.
We're particularly excited about this project because it will give you meaningful data that helps you make decisions on your site. Naturally I will keep you posted on this as it develops but if you have any specific requirements that you want incorporating please do feel free to let me know now while it is still in the specification and planning stages.
On top of all this goodness we will be working to reduce the processing of data feeds to the shortest possible time during the year and developing better integration with WordPress.
New integrations that have just come on stream include FixFlo who are making giant strides in delivery of first class Maintenance Services for lettings agents. We can now integrate them into any site.
We will also be integrating Click ‘n’ Flick / Page-turner brochures which will be populated with all the property data as well as schools performance, local area information and more, all specifically relevant to an individual property.
Design styles are still showing a fashion for large/full screen images. Scrolling and swiping have found favour, encouraged by mobile device use. Whereas not that long ago everyone hated to have any kind of scrolling, now that mobile devices make it easy to swipe past lots of content it has become much more acceptable to have long pages divided into tiles and cards with both vertical and horizontal swiping being very acceptable.
We don't see this changing in 2016.
Office 365 is the new way for businesses to get licensed copies of Microsoft Office. It also comes with 50Gb of email space (that’s huge) and awesome additional benefits in backup and restore solutions as well as 1Tb (way beyond huge) of storage per account.
The Property Jungle can now provide you with all your 365 accounts. Please give us a shout and we'll let you know more.
We've invested in an incredible new hosting platform, grown our programming team by 50% over the last year, and have great plans for enhancements that you will benefit from in the coming year.
One final and very important thing. All of us here really value and appreciate your support. We do everything we can to be the best suppliers and partners that we can. From time to time we find opportunities for improvement and I am constantly working on getting better in every way we can..
Judging by the feedback we get from clients for the most part we get it right and I am always pleased to receive praise and complaints. We will never rest on our laurels. If we can be better, please let me know personally.
Thank you for taking the time to read this and everyone at The Property Jungle wishes you a very best for 2016.