House Exchange is a joint venture between the Clarion Housing Group and 101 that allows social housing tenants nationwide to connect with each other and mutually exchange properties. It takes the form of a real-time multi-option database that is very simple to use and available on a 24/7 basis, so that users can search for their perfect match any time day or night. But it’s also a very intuitive and highly reactive website because, once registered members have identified the kind of property they are interested in, the database will pro-actively suggest potential matches and notify them of new matches as soon as they appear on the system. But what if you’re not sitting at your computer when a possible match comes through? That’s one of the reasons House Exchange asked us to create an app, so that their members can stay updated and notified wherever they are and whatever they’re doing.
House Exchange wanted an app that was, in essence, a transportable version of their website. They didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, but they wanted the app to do everything their database could do – notifying users of property matches, allow them to view properties, and letting them know whenever another user had sent them a message – all while the user was on the move. Where property exchanges are concerned, receiving up-to-the-second information is crucial if your prospective new home isn’t going to be snapped up by somebody else, and that’s why the new app had to be fast, reliable and have great functionality.
We designed an app that is a ‘front’ for the website. Not only does this approach keep costs down, it also means that all information remains on the website leaving the app uncluttered and free to act as a mirror, operating in real-time and picking up changes as soon as they appear on the House Exchange database. Not only is this a smoother way for the app to operate, it avoids the ‘delay’ that could be caused if the app had to synchronise with the website and ensures that app users receive their notifications at the very same moment they arrive on the system. The app gives its users absolute freedom, including searching for properties and sending messages to each other.
Apps like these are a fantastic way to place the power inside your user’s hand and are invaluable for any service that relies upon sending out notifications and keeping them informed. They’re also extremely cost-effective – developing an app like this one isn’t a drain on the budget and sending online notifications is free, unlike sending SMS which can often be prohibitively expensive.
The app 101 created is a very welcome addition to the service we offer our members. The team at 101 did everything they could to keep development costs down while not sacrificing any of the functionality. Their solution to make the app a kind of ‘shop window’ for our website, which meant our database still did all the work and we didn’t have to worry about any unnecessary plug-ins or add-ons, was ingenious. We’re very happy with the results and look forward to the next time we work together.