Nobody can dispute that the real estate market in New Zealand has been heating up in the last few years. As competitive pressure increases among real estate agencies, each one has been trying to do more than the other in the battle to get more business.
"We are New Zealand's largest full service retail company. We are a franchisee business. We have got about 22 franchisees around the country, with just over 70 offices. There is a lot of growth, lot of different things happening around the country and different markets going on," says Simon Billings, online manager at Bayleys.
"Bayleys website is the one stop shop front- the one brand piece that brings it all together. It is crucially important to our business. It represents the brand and all of our offices under one umbrella to the public."
The website was built on a technology that was six years old and proprietary.
"As that product was getting on in age and technology it was well overdue for a rethink. That was what this project was about, going back to the drawing board, rethinking about what our brand and our entire business around the country needs, and how we can provide that," says Billings.
The website refresh project coincided with an internal campaign to do to go above and beyond in terms of customer service.
"That combined with the fact that the technology of the old website had gotten to a point where it was incredibly hard to maintain and keep up to date, not to mention plan for future. All of that came together for a fairly clear decision that we needed to rebuild it on a new technology platform and obviously while doing that there was an opportunity to rebrand the shop front of that website image," says Billings.
Method to madness
Having made the decision to relaunch the site, Bayleys and its partner Cucumber Software invested a lot of time in the planning process.
"It was crucially important, especially being a franchisee process, that each of the owners of the business were represented correctly. We put it out there and asked for people who wanted to be involved in the process.
"Then, between myself and other senior members, we also selected others to participate in the process - people who we felt needed to be there to represent the business across all services and all the offices. We created a large project team and flew in business owners from around the country to attend planning sessions," says Billings.
Three workshops were conducted over a two-month period. The intense planning sessions led to identification and refinement of user personas and improvements in the site's search function.
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