Website, PWA or App. Which do you need for off-plan property marketing?
Deciding how best to manage the digital marketing of a new housing development is a tricky business. Do you need a website, microsite or PWA? What about the marketing suite, should you use an interactive kiosk? Do the sales agents need an app? The options seem overwhelming, baffling and potentially expensive.
Marmoset was created out of the desire to simplify the bewildering array of options whilst providing the flexibility to not lock your decision into any single platform or use case.
Let's take a look at the options normally available and then we'll see where they fit into the overall picture.
Great for presenting information in the most widely accessible way. You'll no doubt have a website for your company and likely a dedicated section, or microsite, for each of your housing developments? Websites are great for providing document based content and are easily, 'crawlable' by the major search engines.
If you want people to search the web to discover information about your company a website is a must have.
As websites become more advanced they can also achieve a lot of the interactivity you'd expect in an app. You should be able to peruse galleries, see floorpans, favourite things, and so forth.
If you haven't heard of Progressive Web Apps, PWAs for short, I'm sure you will soon. They're the latest hot offering promising the best of both worlds, and in a lot of ways they can deliver. PWAs allow for a more app like experience. They support install to your home screen, offline support, notifications and more. However, just because they can support this doesn't mean all PWAs do. Also, it doesn't make sense to make any website a PWA or vice-versa. They are still designed for different use cases, which may overlap but are not the same.
Broadwater House PWA
PWAs are used when you need an app centric solution which can still be easily distributable and maintainable as a traditional website. They are built with web technologies, but they don't use the document centric model of a typical website. When you need to interact with the content, more than read text rich documents, an app starts to make more sense. For your property marketing the killer use cases are interacting with your siteplan, exploring the local area, comparing floorplans and so forth. Also, to save information offline is much more robust, and expected, in a PWA.
PWA offline support, or magic?
PWAs are also great as a more permanent takeaway than a website. This then provides the capability for sending notifications as a purchaser's sale, or favourite plot, progresses. There is often a great opportunity to provide a PWA as they leave your marketing suite instead of a traditional brochure.
Whilst PWAs feel like apps and are expected to work offline, they can't perform magic, although if you test our PWAs they might feel like magic! This is because there are strict browser restrictions on what privileges a PWA may have. The space to store offline content is limited, often to 50mb and this is cleared regularly by the operating system, which stops PWAs clogging up users devices. This is ideal for storing a purchasers favourite plots, or not showing the annoying offline message for content they've recently browsed. However, this limitation does mean your marketing suite kiosk with gigabytes of hi-res imagery and video, required to serve many purchasers everyday, is not best delivered as a PWA. For that, we need the power of the App.
Or I should say, native apps. Native apps are for the ultimate experience. They cannot be accessed until they are discovered and installed. But once installed they can provide some key advantages over a PWA. However, only in limited use cases would these advantages be significant enough to overcome the hurdle of discovery and installation from an app store. Therefore, a PWA should be used for wide distribution while an app should be used for the best in class experience on targeted devices.
At Marmoset we take advantage of this by using native apps in your marketing suite whilst also providing the option for your sales agents devices, such as tablets. This allows for the best customer experience and a markedly improved setup over using a PWA for your sales suite experience.
The native app allows for unlimited cache, so all you media and videos are accessed instantly. It allows for us to manage your devices in true kiosk mode and push updates directly to them as and when needed. It allows for buttery smooth animations, 3D support and more. They can run on large touch screens, touch tables, tablets, and TVs while supporting cutting edge technologies such as VR without missing a beat. Their robust nature also allows for a smooth integration with your smart marketing suite allowing support for model lighting, smart lighting, context driven video walls, and inter-device communication. Even simple things like screensaver support and running a device 24/7 works a lot better when you have a native app. The video can be stored locally, and the memory managed appropriately. While a PWA can do this it's a technical challenge, and often impossible, to ensure no memory leaks and no heavy bandwidth on your network; web technologies were not envisaged to be used in this way.