"As part of that we ran the clean up of all the data and listings of current active listings. We have around 9,000 listings live at any one point. They all needed to be reviewed, refined, tidied-up and then reinserted into the new database," says Billings.
According to Billings, it took a lot of time to coordinate with all the 70 offices and go through the necessary process with the listings they held. The database was built by the four-member IT team, with help from external architecture and database specialists to oversee the process, as well as developers as and when necessary.
"The developers who built the site were also responsible for building the import process. And with the build of the new database there had to be a new import process built. That was quite an extensive project along with the build of the database. The crucial part was to take all the data from the entry listing tool and bringing it into the correct tables and structure within the environment," says Billings.
According to Billings, one of the key challenges related to the relaunch of the site was also related to data.
"Quality control was a challenge and having the business take responsibility to make sure all of the data was correct, before the site was launched. We had the site in beta environment for two months.
"We charged the business to double check the data and listing information, but it is always quite hard for the business to appreciate the impact of not doing that in time. That was a fair challenge to make sure it was coordinated and there was a clean up after the site went live with the business realising that data not being correct in some places," he says.
A process of improvement
Bayleys online team continues to roll out incremental changes to the site including changes to the actual data entry tool to ensure that the correct data is entered in the right format and process, and that listings cannot be submitted without all the necessary information.
"We have been adding new layers of data that we can use on site. That has involved updating the database, improving the import process and adding that back-end data content that we can utilise on the website. A big part of that is looking at customer experience, considering what is not working on the new design, and reacting to that with enhancements and conversion optimisation tactics," says Billings.
The team is currently working on the concept for a new shop front for the site. Billings does not expect it to take shape for the next couple of months.
Meanwhile, the team continues to look into other areas for potential online marketing including mobile, social activity such as blogs and video, and CPC (cost-per-click) advertising on targeted websites.
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