Project Overview

Pam Golding Properties, Southern Africa's leading independent real estate group, wanted to modernise the way in which they capture details of new properties (both sales and rentals).

Previously details were written down on paper, photos taken with a camera and once back at the office, all of this data captured into the Pam Golding Properties Property Management System. Images for each property needed to be uploaded separately by an admin assistant into the Property Management System. The process was time consuming and error prone.

The Pam Golding Properties Capture App revolutionises this process by allowing agents to capture all property and listing information using a mobile phone or tablet.

All required information is captured on site and information is uploaded directly to the listing on the Property Management System from the app, allowing instant publishing to the public facing Pam Golding Properties website. This gives Pam Golding Properties an enormous advantage in securing listing mandates.

PGP iOS

PGP Android

The app is available for both iOS and Android phones and tablets, each with a unique interface to keep a native feel and utilise intuitive UX to account for a broad spectrum of user competence. An intelligent approach to data management is necessary to avoid information overload, clearly differentiating mandatory information from discretional fields and indicating user progression through the process.

We designed the app with South Africa's connectivity constraints and costs in mind, allowing both online and offline capturing, and synching via Wi-Fi.

In an industry where first to market is crucial, speed and ease of use is imperative. The Pam Golding Properties app has reduced the time to capture and publish a property from 6 hours to 15 minutes while making the data capture process less error prone. This impressive use of technology is a significant differentiator, establishing Pam Golding Properties as an innovative market leader in the real estate industry.

Technology

  • Xamarin Mobile App Development & App Creation Software
  • MonoTouch.Dialog
  • AXML
  • NoSql datastore
  • SQLite database

Architecture

Xamarin Mobile App Development and App Creation Software was used to deliver the cross-platform architecture that targets both Android and iOS devices, allowing a truly native experience for each platform while sharing more than 80 percent of the core codebase between the two platforms. This significantly lowered the build cost compared to writing the application in both Objective-C for iOS and J2ME for Android.

To accelerate interface building, MonoTouch.Dialog is used to create the form-based screens on iOS, while the Android application uses AXML to generate its form-based screens.

The forms and fields in the app are dynamic and data-driven to accommodate the different data models required by the different property types that Pam Golding Properties sell. An innovative solution was developed to download large data sets and form capture schemas on login, which is handled by a NoSql datastore, while property listing data is maintained and managed in a SQLite database.

The app integrates with Pam Golding Properties Property Management System and with Deeds Office Information allowing agents to verify the details of the property on the fly.

All listing data is stored locally, once an Internet connection is established the app syncs with the Property Management System. This allows for rapid processing and delivery to a public facing front-end, and critically, first to market.

Architecture

Design

The app targets both tablet and phone devices. The difference in screen and keyboard sizes between these two factors allows us to implement different design paradigms:

The tablet version has a tabbed menu on the side, dividing the data into logical subsets with a form-based screen on the right where data is entered.

The phone version allows the user to drill down into various screens.

Cross Platform

Where possible, we used known iOS and Android paradigms and controls to make using the app as familiar an experience as possible.

The app is centered around data input and the UX aims to avoid cumbersome, form-filling exercise by utilising known controls such as segmented buttons for multiple choices; steppers for easy numeric input; drill-down navigation to manage and present complex data paths; and a floating label pattern in iOS to save vertical space.

Design Elements

The app keeps the user aware of where they are in the process of creating a listing that contains the minimum required information: visual indicators inform the user of fields that need attention, as well as those that have been successfully completed.

In an effort to reduce the number of gestures required, we implemented automatic saving throughout the app, so there is no need to ever hit "save."

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