Real estate site gets a new lease on life, traffic spikes as a result

The realcommercial.com.au site has been 11 months in the planning, but a rise in traffic has made the time spent worthwhile

It's taken the good part of a year, with most of it just in the planning, but the relaunch of commercial real estate Web site realcommercial.com.au has proven an instant success with the site recording an increase of over 40 per cent traffic in its first weeks of going live.

Owner of realcommercial.com.au has upgraded the usability of its commercial site, realestate.com.au Ltd, to make it more easier for commercial agents to list properties and businesses for sale; and for customers to buy or lease.

CIO of realcommercial.com.au, Chris Vulovic, said nine of the 11 months spent building the site was in devising the new features, look and feel. She said much of this time was spent conducting surveys and interviewing existing end users and a selection of the 800 agents that use the site. These findings were taken back to the office, pored over before again going out, re-interviewing and questioning people until a completed design, which she was satisfied the users would be happy with, was achieved.

"The commercial buyer is looking at different things to your home buyer," she said. "For example, they are looking for square metres. So the typical buyer is saying 'I need 1000 square metres for my manufacturing plant, where can I have it?' The location is an afterthought."

The new site now makes metres squared a key search function on the homepage along with searching by categories such as Land/Development or Industrial/Warehouse.

Vulovic said she has been vindicated by her efforts, as the launch of the new site has been met with approval.

Since the relaunch, realcommercial.com.au has experienced 43 per cent growth from Dec 2006 to Jan 2007. For the 12 months from Jan 06 to Jan 07, realcommercial.com.au experienced a 24 per cent increase in growth. Last month it also brought in 77,154 unique browsers to the site - a new milestone for the Web site.

The last time the site was redesigned was in 2002, said Vulovic.

Like the old site, the new one is totally built with open source software. It runs the Apache Web server on top of Linux, with all the listings housed in a MySQL database. The site was built using mod_perl.

"It is highly optimised for what we need to do," she said.

All up the realcommercial.com.au site - both the old and new version - has had zero downtime in the past year, said Vulovic.

"It has served us extremely well," she said.

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Howard Dahdah

Computerworld

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