When Northgate Commercial Real Estate approached me to build their new website, the company’s web presence felt stuck in the previous decade. They had a non-mobile-responsive site that was half legacy ColdFusion web application and half third-party property listing service on a different server, which was styled to look like it was a part of the same site.
Northgate needed to integrate all of their content into a single easy-to-use platform, and Northgate’s new website needed to offer a streamlined way for potential clients to consume the site’s information.
Northgate was fortunate to have a talented designer on staff who was eager to design the new website. I provided basic website design guidance and ultimately was presented with one of the most clean and intuitive designs I’ve built to date.
Given Northgate’s needs, WordPress was the obvious platform of choice. WordPress has a 15-year history and powered almost a third of the Internet at the time, so it was unlikely to lose popularity the way that ColdFusion did.
The new site needed several content types with structured data. Some content types needed relationships with other types of content, such as relating property listings to their agents. I used the Advanced Custom Fields Pro plugin to implement the necessary fields and relationships for each post type.
Because Northgate had a talented designer on staff, I wanted to give extra flexibility when editing the site’s main pages. I installed the Beaver Builder page builder plugin to allow Northgate to build custom-designed pages, such as the Northgate’s homepage or the services page.
Listing Management System
Like most commercial real estate companies, Northgate lists on LoopNet, but they also wanted to offer more in-depth information about their listings on their own site.
Before building the new site, there were around 100 properties in the third-party listing service that Northgate was using. Creating and editing listings with this system was a time-consuming task, with over half a dozen screens to click through. Worse yet, the system still didn’t meet Northgate’s needs.
With a brand-new site, we were able to build a custom solution that matched the real-world needs of Northgate. We went through an iterative process based on Northgate’s listing data and a lot of questions, creating a tailor-suited listing experience. Once the new system was in place, we migrated the data from their old provider to the new WordPress site.
The new individual listing page included all the listing’s information, a touch-responsive carousel for property images and a lightbox pop-up to display larger versions of the listing’s images.
Filterable Property Listings Page
To help visitors find their ideal commercial property, we built multiple filters into the property listings page. This allowed visitors to easily find the property they were looking for based on sale type, location, property type or agent.
Property Report Tool
Northgate wanted the ability to generate custom reports about their properties that they could provide their clients. They also wanted to give their clients the ability to generate reports for themselves.
Printer-Friendly Property Pages
In commercial real estate, paper is preferred by many agents and buyers alike. It was important that the individual property pages and property reports looked as good printed as they did on the screen. After researching how other listing sites have made their pages printer friendly, we emulated the best practices on Northgate’s site.
Northgate was pleased with the results. In particular, the individual property page and the report page looked like they were designed specifically for print.