Archive for March, 2009

New Dwellicious features

This morning, we released a new addition to Dwellicious Cool Tools – an interactive financial spreadsheet for each of your bookmarks using the Zillow API for real-time rates and local area tax and insurance estimates.  We also addressed two long standing concerns we’ve had, and I’m going to go over these in detail here.

Ever since we launched, we’ve heard from users that the one of the coolest Dwellicious features was the Cool Tools – a suite of decision making tools for each bookmark, including maps, street views, discussion thread, easy sharing to Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, WordPress, valuation, comps, neighborhood demographics, schools, Walk Score, property photos, and neighborhood photos.  Some of the customers we talked to, however, were unaware that these powerful tools existed.  We narrowed this down to the fact that the Cool Tools button was located in the lower right of each bookmark, on the opposite side of where your eye naturally goes: to the photo and the title link.

Old bookmark

We tried serveral subtle changes to make the Cool Tools button stand out more, but some users still did not notice it.  The new version of the bookmark now adds two unobtrusive elements when the mouse is over it:  a “Click here for Cool Tools” overlay appears on the left half of the photo where the eye is naturally focused, and the Cool Tools button on the right lights up in a contrasting color.  With the extra space in the image overlay, some interesting information is also added – the total number of photos available for this bookmark.

New bookmark

Clicking anywhere on the photo or the Cool Tools button will now take you to the decision making tools.  The ‘Comments’ link directly under the photo will also now take you directly to the Cool Tools Discussion tab.

When the Cool Tools page appears, you will immediately notice another change: the contents of the Share tab has now been moved into a more visible spot in the right hand column.  The Share tools allow you to share your bookmark with friends and family on Facebook, MySpace, WordPress, Twitter, and e-mail with one simple click.  This has been a popular feature, but we’re trying to make it more visible to users and encourage use by moving it out from under a tab.  The tag list was also added right above the Notes field – something that previously was only available on the bookmark list page, but was requested to be added here as well.

Cool Tools Finance tab

You will also notice a new Cool Tool – the Finance tab.  This utilizes a new Zillow API that breaks out principal, interest, tax, and insurance using real-time interest rates and local tax and insurance values to come up with a realistic monthly cost for your chosen property.  I’m really happy with how qucik this API works, making it real easy to try “what if” scenarios by changing the price and down payment percentage, then clicking the Update button.  Notice the use of AJAX to update the spreadsheet in a quick and visually appealing way.  Try it yourself!

We hope you like the changes we’ve made to Dwellicious.  Many of the changes we make are due to good feedback from our customers, so make sure you keep sending those in – feedback at dwellicious dot com.

– Dan Woolley


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Love this!

This came from Merlin Mann’s blog 43 Folders blog. It’s a remake (redo?) of a poster from England back in WWII.

3365682994_b257c0c52d_d

Design

This came through my Reader…

“Most people make the mistake of thinking design is what it looks like. People think it’s this veneer — that the designers are handed this box and told, ‘Make it look good!’ That’s not what we think design is. It’s not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

– Steve Jobs

Word.

REBarCamp LA see you there!

dwellicious-logo-spot-ii
Dwellicious will be sponsoring the upcoming REBarCamp LA.

What is Real Estate Barcamp?
Real Estate Barcamp is essentially a one-day social media marketing conference for the Real Estate industry. Attendees are expected to learn the direct business application of social media for their business.

They already have over 100 attendees signed up!

I attended the REBarCamp New York last year right before Inman and had a great time meeting new people and learning. Since I’ve moved back to Southern California I thought it would be a great idea to sponsor this Los Angeles event and start getting reaclimated with the real estate scene here.

Visit the website for more details.

logo

When? Thursday, April 2nd!

Location:
Pasadena Hilton
168 South Los Robles Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91101

Time: 9:00am to 5:00pm

Cost: FREE! But you have to RSVP here

Follow on Twitter: @REBarcampLA

I hope to see you there! – Greg

The Power of Tags

I was recently asked by a customer how they could organize their bookmarks into folders – to break down their large list of bookmarks into smaller groups.  Dwellicious has a feature even more powerful than folders called “tagging” to enhance the organizing and sharing of your bookmarks – once you understand how they work.

In general, folders = tags.  When you tag a bookmark “beach” or “Smith”, that allows you to organize your bookmarks into groups.  Tags are more powerful than folders, however, because typically items can only go into one folder, whereas an item can have multiple different tags, and thus belong to many different groups.

When you create a new bookmark, or edit an existing one, there is a text box labelled “Tag list” where you can type a space seperated list of custom tags.  Once you have your bookmarks identified with one or more tags, you can filter and only show specific tags by clicking on your tag list on the right side of your bookmark list. Look at the bookmarks page at http://dwellicious.com/lindadixon – see the tag list on the right side?  Clicking on the tag “laguna” filters the bookmarks down to only those tagged with “laguna”.  Clicking on “pool” further filters the bookmarks down to those containing both tags.  Clicking on the X on either tag removes that tag from your filter.  You can see a little “bread crumb” trail indicating exactly what tags you are viewing at the top of the list.

When you click on each of these tags, you can see that the url has changed to http://dwellicious.com/lindadixon/laguna or http://dwellicious.com/lindadixon/laguna+pool.  The direct url follows the form http://dwellicious.com/<username>/<tag><+tag><+tag>…  Knowing this, you can create custom groups of bookmarks to share with friends or clients that show exactly the listings you want them to view.  Common tags would be a a specific clients last name, the city or neighborhood the property is in, and maybe a distinguishing feature about the property.  Once you organize your bookmarks this way, you could send the Smiths a list of properties in Newport that have a pool and a view with something like this:

http://dwellicious.com/myusername/Smith+Newport+pool+view

Very powerful, very organized.

To take this one step further, you or your client can even subscribe to an RSS/Atom feed of these listings so that they’ll be notified when any bookmarks are added with those tags, or when any of these listings changes in price, adds photos, goes off market, etc.  At the top of each list of bookmarks, you’ll see an orange icon like this: indicating the feed.  You may also have a feed indicator in your browser’s address bar.  Click on either of those icons to subscribe.  You can also manually create a direct url by simply appending “.atom” onto the end of the url you’re viewing, so our example url above becomes:

http://dwellicious.com/lindadixon/laguna+pool.atom

for a direct link to the feed for those bookmarks.

Questions about this topic?  Ideas for use cases?  Leave them in the comments below!

Dwellicious reaches 1,000 user mark and expands reach

We’re really pleased to announce that we’ve reached the 1,000 user milestone only two months after the release of Dwellicious.  Below is the text from our press release.

Real Estate Social bookmarking site, Dwellicious, reaches 1,000 user mark and expands reach
1,000 active users able to bookmark properties from expanding compatible real estate sites.

Boca Raton, FL—(March 4, 2009) W&R Studios announced today over 1,000 people have signed up for Dwellicious, it’s new innovative real estate social bookmarking site. Dwellicious was launched to the public on January 5, 2009. The site allows consumers to bookmark properties from around the web and learn more about the property’s valuation, surrounding neighborhood, and schools. Dwellicious “smart” bookmarks will update users with any changes that are made to the property such as price, new photos, or whether the property has gone off the market. Bookmarked properties can also be monitored via an RSS feed.

Dwellicious makes it easy for consumers to share and discuss their bookmarked properties with friends, family, or real estate professionals with one-click sharing to social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

“Reaching the 1,000 user mark is a big milestone for us,” stated Greg Robertson, co-founder of W&R Studios. “The site is just two months old, and it’s great to see new users registering and using the site everyday to organize their home search.” The 1,000 users are a mix of free and pay “Dwellicious Pro” accounts. “Our customers give us new ideas on how to improve the site everyday,” continued Mr. Robertson.  “We are updating the site based on their suggestions,” concluded Mr. Robertson.

W&R Studios also announced expanded compatibility for Dwellicious users across multiple platforms. “Our users are spread all over the country,” announced Dan Woolley, co-founder of W&R Studios. “We approached expanding the compatibility of Dwellicious from two angles, real estate search portals and IDX vendors” continued Mr. Woolley. “To date, two dozen of the most popular real estate search portals are now compatible with Dwellicious, along with over 50,000 broker and agent websites, through partnerships with multiple IDX vendors, including Diverse Solutions”. We are off to a strong start this year,” concluded Mr. Woolley. For a full list of compatibile sites, check out http://dwellicious.com and choose ‘Online Real Estate Links’.

About W&R Studios

Founded in 2008, W&R Studios (http://wr-studios.com/) is a privately held web software company. W&R Studios focuses on creating the next generation of web-based software solutions for the real estate industry. By providing a “less is more” approach to software design, elegant user interfaces, and using the latest in agile programming, W&R Studios’ software applications are at the same time powerful, yet accessible to everyone. Co-founders Dan Woolley and Greg Robertson each have over 15 years experience developing and marketing software solutions.

For more information please contact:
Greg Robertson
greg@wr-studios.com