“Today, business is digital, and digital is business; we can't separate the two anymore. Rennie needed a digital system that could grow with us. Not a stock website, but a smart content system that could scale and serve users seamlessly.”
- Josh Heppner, Rennie’s VP of Digital
Smart tech for an ambitious shift
Part of Rennie’s vision was the belief that digital could power their business, not just passively publish information. Their mission was to connect buyers with their perfect home, through a structured, inspiring platform that could iterate over time.
Rennie came to Domain7 with a strong idea of their desired product, and the market research to back it up. The starting point for Domain7 was creating a sound technical strategy to help them get there: we narrowed down the priorities of the project together, and created a roadmap for their future framework.
It also meant keeping their business goals central to the technical and UX strategy: lead generation forms and deal-alerts would help buyers make contact effortlessly with agents, truly connecting potential buyers to homes they need, leading to increased business through digital—a win-win for Rennie and their clients.
Rennie truly wanted to put digital first. That's not easy for a traditional, offline business—but it's so smart. It means cutting excess content, content superfluous marketing-speak, and focusing on tech that serves the user.
Filters and features for home-finders
That “win-win” shines through in how the tool actually functions for its primary user, the home-buying audience. Take the search experience, the jewel of the site: with its multiple customizable filters and map details, it lets visitors get a glimpse of their neighbourhood-to-be before jumping into the home-buying process. What’s not to love about pinpointing your favourite community centres, coffee shops and restaurants before you even move in?
To make this happen took a lot of moving tech pieces. The improved Rennie.com is a Ruby on Rails application linked with a rich Angular JS frontend. With this foundation, data can be updated in one place without
duplication. We also helped Rennie gain the ability to better display and manage the thousands of MLS listings in their database.
With all of this taking place behind-the-scenes to make a seamless user experience for site visitors, you’d be forgiven for missing the secret treasure trove that impacts Rennie insiders: Rennie advisors can customize their own websites and listings by adding images and videos without sacrificing the continuity between their digital properties, while a tool called Mandrill lets the team send out Rennie-branded emails right from the same “real estate marketing cloud.”
A holistic design system
From a design perspective, the challenge was to ensure the Rennie brand would translate well across three different sites, and could tie in seamlessly with each individual advisor’s personal website. Not only that, but the visual design had to balance with functionality, ensuring that the user experience was truly seamless.
We needed a holistic user experience. Not only aesthetically on-brand, but bringing usability to the forefront of the experience. Getting there meant close collaboration with the client.
A vision for the future
The new Rennie system is launching point for a platform that will continue to evolve. “Our new data hub is the connecting piece between our customers, our properties and our staff,” says Josh Heppner, VP of Digital at Rennie. Tim Booker adds: “Strategically creating the 'content heart' of
their systems sets them up for an incredible future.” It’s a bold, digital-first vision that is not just helping connect home-buyers to their new homes in an effortless way, but is setting the benchmark for how real estate can become a digital business.