“The world’s leading property portals are locked into a pattern of small iterations of change that are designed to not threaten key metrics, revenues or user patterns,” says Justin Clarke, Private Property CEO. “The truth is that it is very difficult to ‘rebuild the plane while it is in the air’.”
Nonetheless, Private Property launched its all-new offering on 1 June, 2013, to international acclaim.
The project, which became known to the development team as “Phoenix” was initiated to re-imagine the company’s 10-year-old legacy website. The team was tasked with building an entirely new experience from the ground up, while still serving the existing live data to Private Property’s million-or-so unique monthly visitors.
“To add to the challenge, we decided to host the new site on Microsoft’s Azure cloud environment – a first for a large South African portal,” says Simon Bray, Private Property COO.
“Now, our house-hunters can enjoy rich content that is served faster than previously, while our engineers can build on a platform that is scalable and fault tolerant. The new interface is interactive, intuitive and inspirational and we have significantly reduced latency.”
The company has conducted extensive testing across all platforms to ensure that all browsers are able to enjoy the same experience. Private Property simultaneously released its new, highly successful iPad app, and is working on the accompanying Android app and revamped mobi site.
Simon says that the results of A/B testing (new against old) show significant improvements on every front – including a reduced bounce rate; increased time on site per user; and even the same content being rated significantly better on the new site than on the old.
“What makes this site so different is the strong focus on the presentation of rich images, as well as video and virtual tours. Our strong emphasis on displaying a quality score has already increased competition from advertisers to improve their listings,” says Justin.
“We set out to do what a portal is supposed to do: introduce sharing of great content and make it intuitive and seamless for the browsers to interact with the advertisers,” he concludes.
This week, the South African-based company which owns Private Property, One Africa Media (OAM), previously named Private Property Holdings, which also operates Internet classifieds businesses in cars, travel and jobs secured US$20-million (R205.53-million) from Australian-listed jobs portal SEEK.
Private Property‘s iPad app, released on 1 June, achieved the top position of the South African app store’s free ‘general’ category within a few days of launch. To date there have been more than 22,000 downloads and upgrades of this version and, with more than 76,000 active users, it remains one of the country’s top lifestyle apps.