Every once and awhile we launch something that is just so cool that I can’t stop playing around with it. That happened this week, as we put up www.swamprentals.com, a Web site for University of Florida students to find apartments in Gainesville. The concept isn’t new, as people have been comparing apartments for years in fliers, magazines, and Web searches. What makes this site so unique is the way users search. Here’s a screenshot of the homepage:
Let’s say you want an apartment downtown with at least two bedrooms that is pet friendly and has a gym. You’d like a pool, but it isn’t a deal breaker. Usually you’d either search the Web for each apartment’s site and see if they have what you want. Other sites will let you search using these parameters and may serve the right results, but the real question is why did you get the results you did? Out of 100 apartment choices, maybe a handful have everything you searched for. But what if you get no results? What search parameter do you change? There may be several places that have all but one of the things you searched for. SwampRentals.com shows you how each choice you make affects your search results. Confusing, I know. Here are some images that might help. First off, here is the main search screen. You can see a map on the right, all of the listings in the database in the lower right, and the search parameters on the left. There are basic ones and more advanced ones.
You can expand or collapse the advanced search options listed down the bottom left site and search by any combination of those things, as show here:
Here’s where it gets super cool. As you click on any search parameter, the results (the images in the lower right) update right away. Click “pet-friendly” and the ones that don’t allow pets disappear. The less results you have, the bigger the images get, until you’re left with the perfect option. Say you select something that takes away 90% of the results. You can just undo that to get the other results. No more hitting the back button and changing your search, guessing what you did to affect the results.
At the same time, the map is updating. Once you find ones that meet your query, you can just click on either the picture or the map point to get more details. This brings up a modal popup (not a new window, but just a hover over the screen) with floorplans, amenities, and pictures. Closing it will bring you back to the search results you had up. Here’s a shot of the pop-up:
No, those aren’t features of the apartment complex. I think they’re showing off the pool. Anyhow, it is a great site with a super cool search feature we call the showcase. We can actually add a showcase to any site, as we’ve added it to our standard code library. This is the first site to go live with it, but there are several in the works that I’ll be sure to blog about when they go up!