Arnolds Keys are a leading independent property group based in Norfolk, England. Bigfork were appointed to redesign their online presence, the key aims were promote the key strengths of the different businesses within the group and increase enquiries.
With the new Arnolds Keys website, planning was everything. We ran workshops for all the different departments within Arnold Keys to understand what each one needed the new website to do for them and which content would be required to make that happen. Once we had collated data from all the workshops we were able to go through the process of developing a content plan, wireframes and finally a design concepts. One of the key requirements for Arnolds Keys was an easy to use Content Management System. Another requirement was to integrate with not one, but two, third-party APIs for integrating property feeds. SilverStripe was a perfect fit here - the user friendly CMS and powerful framework had both these essentials covered (with a bit of extra work on our part!) The final design was very image heavy, with the large hero images and also thousands of property images. The Responsive Images module came in very handy for making sure we didn't cripple mobile performance with 2000 pixel wide images, instead serving up more suitable sizes based on their device capabilities. Our biggest challenge was with the property APIs. Due to the volume of data returned by search results neither API allows realtime interaction, instead favouring an update once every 24 hours to pull the latest properties through. We achieved this through a custom SilverStripe Build Task which was triggered with a cron job every night to grab the latest properties, which in turn triggers another task to retrieve any new property images (of which there are sometimes thousands) and resample them for use on the website. This greatly sped up the website as it meant images didn't need to be retrieved and resampled on the users time. The property search forms themselves are a great example of how flexible SilverStripe can be. We used built-in forms and fields to build the search form, the native ORM to do all the behind-the-scenes work and SilverStripe’s powerful template system to return pre-rendered HTML fragments to keep things speedy. What’s more, SilverStripe empowers us to detect and respond differently if the user submitted their search via AJAX, so we can provide near-instant, interactive searches for users with modern browsers while still providing a solid baseline experience for those without. Arnolds Keys are very pleased with the website, particularly the ease of updates compared to their previous website, in particular the ability for each department and branch to edit their own details, which we implemented easily with Security groups and permissions.
- 5 January 2016