Property frontiers

Make Smart Investment Decisions with Property Frontiers

Don’t worry, your eyes are not playing tricks on you - you’re not redirected to some financial site – you’re still on my site. But investing money wisely is what Property Frontiers (PF) helps you with. Whether you are a retiree looking for a vacation home, or a who’s who jetsetter looking for your next luxury yards, PF can help you make smart decisions when it comes to acquiring real estate. While PF is based in the UK, it has a portfolio of more than a thousand (and counting!) properties all around the world.

The Goal: Help Property Investors Make Smart Decisions

At some point in time, PF made the smart decision to update their website for better information sharing with their existing and would-be customers. Cognizant of the fact that serious money is involved and that they were catering to people with very serious intentions; they wanted a website that would best represent their business, integrity and discipline. In short, something that would exude professionalism, diligent research, and reliability.

My Role at Property Frontiers

Many say that it takes double the effort to knock down a house and build another, rather than build a new one from scratch – particularly if there is only one builder to do the works. This is most certainly true for websites as well. To start the work, I first meticulously evaluated PF’s existing website to see how it could be improved – revamped even – to come up with a bigger, better, new website. So, I tore down the existing site with the help of PF’s marketing and development team, one brick at a time, sorting them according to usability and relevance, and throwing away everything else in the process. We then added new materials to the remains, putting them all together, using solid engineering and design skills, to build a new and fresh website. All through this building process, I was the only designer (builder, if you like) working on the project. A challenge and an opportunity for me, rolled into one.

Process: User Centered Design process covering Interactions, Visuals and Content

I would love to say it was a three or five step activity. In reality, though, it took me several months, and hundreds of activities, to perfect the website. I've summarized below the things I did at PF, in a most condensed form.

Step 1: Understood the needs of the company

I needed to understand how business work and where did their website fit in. I interviewed many employees and senior managers to get a better overview of site from PF's perspective. I worked on finding which areas needed improvement, which features had to be retained and which were the best practices to implement?

Step 2: Understood the wants and needs of the users

I spent a fair amount of time understanding the target audience and collected a lot of market research data, fact and figures. I had to detail out personas and user's mental model as per live site. Based on that, I prepared a user task matrix which listed types of users and the tasks performed by them.

Step 3: Introduced limitless innovations with Interaction Design (IxD)

IxD required several rounds of conceptualization, designing, presentation and critiquing. The cycle was iterative and there were no short cuts to hasten the process. Luckily, I’m a patient person when it comes to perfecting a task, so this difficult and lengthy task of satisfying both needs with a solid Interaction Design work was not a problem for me. While doing the IxD work, I presented the ideas in the form of wireframes and prototypes to the team for discussion. When the prototype had finally been approved and tested by both the frontend and backend users, I started on the visual design working alongside developers.

Step 4: Integrated a Content Management System (CMS)

I worked on this part with .Net developers to implement a new CMS system. PF uses Immediacy CMS similar to what BBC, Virgin, BP, Cambridge University and many others use. The brilliance of Immediacy is that it allows the backend users to see the web page exactly as the frontend users see it, thereby making the contents easy to edit. We implemented the whole system for managing content between different teams, for e.g. sales, web, data entry, legal, research, marketing, and PR.  This system acts as an access control, specifying the levels of authority (reading, editing, etc.) for each PF employee.

Step 5: Ensured Sustainability of Website Through Testing

Testing is a must for any website, and even more so for PF! Before turning over the project to them, we had to make sure that the website could be manipulated by their employees and is usable and accessible to customers. To do this, we employed a two-pronged approach by using various testing tools and techniques. In particular, we tested the page with heat map creation tools to find areas grabbing users attention.

The Results: Amazing!

Now this one I can claim for sure. Within its first month of re-launch, PF experienced a tremendous increase in traffic to the site and an increase in sales thereafter. PF also have the bragging rights to a very good search engine ranking, one that is not easily attained. Now that alone makes all the difficulties I experienced worthwhile. But to sweeten it even more, apart from the increased sales and the increased traffic, PF's efforts were rewarded by many prestigious awards from Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP), Caribbean World Awards and International Property Awards. PF also received Best Staff Training Award in 2008 and 2010.

Visit Property Frontiers website or have a look at screenshots below.

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