Reimagining the future of the RayCooke Experience.
CDG was given the task of defining Ray Cooke’s brand positioning and then bringing it to life as a distinct new corporate brand identity alongside its digital marketing website portal and traditional marketing. Our goal while working with Ray Cooke Auctioneers was to translate their values of hard work and tradition of customer-focused care. Our main challenge was to create a clean, unique and modern image that would empathise with the core target audiences with the purpose to enhance and increase the brand experience. The new identity focused on core key elements of the business, the name and the service. The visual identity was inspired to use the red dot to evoke the completeness of the services offered and the customer-focused care that they provided. These elements brought together a typographic solution which incorporated an abstract minimal mark and the Ray Cooke name
Ray Cooke Auctioneers is the 3rd largest Independent Auctioneer in Ireland with its main competitors Sherry Fitzgerald and DNG. Ray Cooke have cornered a sector of the market which is quite fast moving and demanding. Due to the current housing crises Ray Cooke Auctioneers decided to seize the opportunity to Innovate and grow and open more offices in Dublin. With this investment they recognised that their database of houses was going to increase double so they needed to approach the market with an innovative digital platform that could match it. As their clients were in general quite IoT savvy they knew they would have to be a few steps ahead to be futureproof. The housing market requires each real estate agent to publish their properties for sale and to let on their own portal website and on MyHome and DAFT. Ray Cooke needed an digital platform for marketing and property publication with speed and accuracy. An API was built that would take the property data and publish it in real time anywhere. But not alone would it do this it should also publish the properties directly to the window display units in each office along with any other new IoT opportunities. Connecting to future devices including APP’s and potentially large display units in Shopping Centres was the goal which was achieved in October 2023. The new website is the 1st in Ireland to do this and its mapping and location search allows the browser to locate quickly filtered results. The hosting of the website portal needed a lot of bandwidth with zero downtime and optimum security. This was achieved with WP-Engine’s enterprise server solution hosting. Each property had an agent and each agent would be available to upload large videos and details remotely and timely. Linking in with suppliers of white goods on ecommerce sites and other possible IoT devices would require the digital platform deliver customers opportunities to buy and enquire on numerous platforms with speed and accuracy without shopping around looking for delivery times suitable for them. The marketing team could automate timely branded messaging with purpose.
In these current times being disruptive in the real estate market is not just another type of digital gimmick it’s a necessity as making life easy for the customer is what helps the housing marketing perform and help agents sell efficiently in these challenging times. The challenges for the project lay predominantly with helping each agent publish data once not many times and for many channels remotely. The data would be inputted by each agent on an iPad or laptop including capturing video / big data like video of each property on location by digital camera. This would be posted to their core website, DAFT, MyHome and other channels and also integrating with other widow display devices. Uploading large amounts of data in areas where bandwidth might be low would be challenging so the servers used to help control this data would need to be robust and agile. Another challenge was to build this website portal on an extremely tight budget. Ray Cooke was very budget conscious so using large licencing requirements was not going to be possible. So an open source PHP platform with a WordPress CMS would be chosen direction which demanded high levels of security and protocols with tools to help run the XML strings, API’s and systems. The technology is bespoke to Ray Cooke yet it is possible to roll this out as a SAAS model. Additional roadblocks came from 3rd parties who did not really wish to focus on these requirements as they have plans to work independently of Real Estate Agents in the future and there was little or no testing environment or zone to troubleshoot the passing of data and debugging. So CDG built a testing zone for this issue so a smooth launch was possible and all data would be accurately posted.
The design focused on anticipating what users might need to do while ensuring that the interface UI had elements that were easy to access, understand, and use to facilitate those actions. We brought together concepts from interaction design, visual design, and information architecture. The design would be light so as to showcase the properties more effectively. Everything stemmed from knowing the users, UX, including understanding their goals, skills, preferences, and search tendencies. We looked for gaps and elements that can help save space and not put more of a burden on the user mentally by forcing them to guess what is within the dropdown or what the element might be.
We wanted to make the interface nearly invisible to the user avoid unnecessary elements and be clear in the language we used on labels and in messaging. We used common elements in the UI to make users feel more comfortable getting things done more quickly. We created patterns in language, layout, and design throughout the site to help facilitate efficiency. Once a user learned how to do something, they could transfer that skill to other parts of the site.
We considered the spatial relationships between items on the page and structure the page based on importance. The careful placement of the items drew attention to the most important pieces of information. We used strategic use of colour and texture to direct attention toward or redirect attention away from items using colour, light, contrast, and texture. We used typography to create hierarchy and clarity and carefully considered how to use typefaces. We used different sizes, fonts, and arrangements of the text to help increase scan-ability, legibility, and readability. Users have become familiar with interface elements acting in a certain way, so we were consistent and predictable in our choices of layout to help with task completion, efficiency, and satisfaction.
Innovation and Technology
The innovation used was a coupling of unique design and bespoke programming using a defined strategy in mind to gear up for target audience needs now and in the future. The innovation was taking this risk to diversify into an unknown realm that if scaled up could be a demanding opportunity to manage as RayCooke was intending to open 12 more offices quickly of the next 3 years. Also the process had to align with the big players DAFT and MyHome future requirements too.
CDG redesigned a responsive, user-friendly website with a digital platform that would allow staff and marketing automate data upload proficiency. Each section is clearly defined, and the user journey has been clearly mapped resulting in a best practice performing customer-centric website that positions the website as market leaders. CDG looked closely at common user flows to ensure a user experience that was as seamless and as efficient as possible, created with a modern, elegant and simple interface.
The website technology used was WordPress and Elementor Pro for the page building in the CMS. This allowed us to visually build new pages and adapt content, and all other parts of the site making the entire web design process visual and user code-free which allowed staff to complete new pages and tasks considerably faster than before. We created backend templates and blocks that integrated with widgets, so we could create pages featuring slides and other important page features and animated headlines for impressive messaging.
We created a navigation system that takes into account the full scope of the consumer journey – from initial customer interaction to finding exactly what they’re looking for, through to selection and enquiry. CDG transformed the user experience by organising content in a clear, logical way. This gives properties more context while seamlessly injecting the brand voice throughout the entire journey.
The new platform allowed staff complete full digital marketing SEO & SMO support in addition to ongoing web and data maintenance. CDG also produced eye-catching and effective digital advertising design, ensuring maximum exposure to support their digital marketing plans.
Implementation and Results
CDG successfully created a new modern-day platform that both met and exceeded the objectives and expectations of increasing sales in addition to fostering and improving brand awareness and loyalty. The Ray Cooke Real Estate Portal now boasts an identity platform that not only reflects its position as one of the online market leaders in Real Estate management but also communicates effectively to both existing and new customers alike that they were primed to competing against the incumbent main players in the residential sector.
The aim was to achieve an intuitive and inclusive experience for the defined target audience.
- The design and composition so that it may be accessed, understood, and used
- To the greatest possible extent
- Be in the most independent and natural manner possible
- Be in the widest possible range of situations
- No need for adaptation, modification, assistive devices
- Means, any electronics-based process of creating properties, services, or systems so that they may be used by any person.
Following the implementation, the new portal has seen online website traffic increase by more than 300% with a significantly lower bounce rate. More importantly, customers are praising the speed and integrity of their properties being managed more successfully.