This is the first of several posts relating to the IDX solutions that are on the table for Geek Build 2012, and focuses on my experience with Diverse Solutions. This post is meant to start a dialogue relating to the pros and cons of their products as contenders for the Geek Build 2012 websites.
I have used Diverse Solutions’ products for over two years now, both their dsSearchAgent and dsIDXpress products. dsSearchAgent is their primary product and is a map-based search tool. dsIDXpress is an indexable, list-based product designed for embedding properties in WordPress pages, posts and sidebars.
I have changed the way I use both products several times and am now using two strategies. For my city/area pages I use a combination of both – the map search displays first, and below that I embed properties with dsIDXpress. The idea is to give users both the map and list choices, and to take advantage of the embedding for SEO. I think this solution (which is of my own design and not documented) is a bit clunky and inelegant. Here is an example (I do realize I have a big “above the fold” problem, which I will address in an upcoming redesign): St Pete Beach Real Estate
For the fifteen luxury condo buildings we feature I use just dsIDXpress to embed a list, examples here: St Petersburg Condos The smaller amount of properties available means I don’t have to use a map search, so this works well. Combining the indexable listings with a history/background has allowed us to rank in the top ten in Google for 12 of the 15 developments (for the most commonly searched term, which we display at the top of each page).
Here is a partial list of pros and cons of the products:
- Simple to use, setting up searches and maps is easy
- Can limit display of properties to just about anything you want
- Can limit criteria-controls to the left of the maps simply by dragging and dropping in the control panel (though I use the same ones all the time)
- Single display of properties is excellent
- Simple control of signup options
- Can send signups to TopProducer database automatically
- Google maps integration is nice
- Google analytics integration
- Good calls to action
- Great technical support
- dsSearchAgentmobile links to a mobile search solution
- dsSearchAgentmobile has a pretty cool demo app, and non-demo version for tablets
- The solution includes a backend email and management system, but my experience with it is limited
- Purely a map-based, iframed solution (no indexing or list view)
- Initial map load (iframe) is slow and clunky
- Property display on maps can be slow
- I found that the “modules,” which are “customizable drop-ins,” have limited usefulness. I quit using them altogether after a time. I learned by accident that after using “Featured Maps” on many of my city pages that they were limited to displaying only 25 properties, and this was undocumented (!). Also, I don’t have a quick-search because I couldn’t come up with anything I thought looked good, even customizing with CSS
- Limited custom options for advanced users/coders
- The mobile solution, available for pro users, prompts only when you hit the home page. I was able to code in a solution for prompting from every landing page, but now it prompts every time you hit a page so you have to keep saying no if you don’t want it (ipad)
- The mobile search demo app doesn’t work correctly in IE, and they wouldn’t support it when I asked them. It would sure be nice to use the demo to feature the search product on our site, but not without it working reliably
- Allows you to embed indexable listings and get a large number of pages indexed quickly
- Great for landing pages for condos and smaller developments
- Excellent display of property data
- Call to action in each listing
- Very flexible with many different ways to use it
- No option to prompt for signup
- Limited to single-column display of listings, which looks bad on landing pages when used in shortcode
- Documentation on usage is limited, and it is difficult to figure out how to use it most effectively
I’d really prefer to do away with the map solution and just use the WordPress plugin, but dsIDXpress doesn’t really work as a standalone product. To employ these products on a WordPress site effectively you have to have both, and the cost is relatively high at about $110/month.
Perhaps most important to me is that I think our conversion should be much better for the number of visitors we have, time on site, etc.
Who has experiences, opinions, pros/cons of the Diverse Solutions IDX products?
Note from the Editor: Not sure what Geek Build 2012 is? It’s building a few real estate websites from scratch publicly with the help of the Geek Estate Community and overseen by an experienced steering committee. Read more about Geek Build 2012 here, or view all posts related to Geek Build 2012 here.
**Geek Build logo designed by Dominic Morrocco at M Squared Real Estate.