As the number of mobile apps with potential business uses explodes, the National Association of Realtors has launched REpurposedApps.com, an online community dedicated to helping Realtors learn from each other which apps are the most useful for real estate.
The website organizes iOS and Android apps into categories such as productivity, finance and social networking, and allows Realtors to review the apps, also integrating the apps’ iTunes and Google Play ratings.
Apps are submitted by members with no feedback or recommendations from the NAR staff. The site does include a social layer, enabling members to share the apps via the traditional social channels and allowing comments to be posted.
The website is focused on non-real-estate-related apps. The most popular app category on the website is productivity, and Evernote — which was not designed specifically for real estate professionals, but enjoys widespread industry adoption — is the most popular app.
REpurposedApps includes a member showcase where selected members can list their favorite apps, and explain how they use them. The showcase also includes a photograph and biography of the featured member.
“These are members who’ve been huge advocates for technology in the real estate space and have proven to be evangelists in the mobile space,” said Chad Curry, managing director of NAR’s Center for Realtor Technology, which developed the website. “They’re known nationally and have been great advocates for this idea and site. The showcase status identifies them as professionals who are adept at using this technology and always looking forward to new apps that will help their efficiency.”
Recommended apps must pass an editorial process, meeting three criteria to be published:
1: The app cannot be offensive.
2: The app cannot violate the Realtor trademark.
3: The app cannot be self-promotional.
The Center for Realtor Technology developed the website under the Root Project, an NAR initiative that allows the CRT team to utilize 10 percent of its workweek to develop a project outside of the normal work flow, a practice that has been adopted by many tech companies over the years.
Although the platform is in its infancy and still adding content, it’s off to a good start. One of the first things I noticed during my testing was the website’s cutting-edge, responsive design, which utilizes a slick, animated masonry technique. Responsive design ensures that the site is just as easy to access using mobile devices as desktop or laptop computers.
Because REpurposedApps is a site focused on mobile apps, “it was really important that it work well on mobile devices,” Curry said.
“We were the first trade association to have our member-focused site built using responsive design techniques when we completed realtor.org in April of 2012,” Curry noted. “It’s proven to be even more important for SEO and Google.”
For the animated filtering of the apps, Curry said CRT used a library from the creator of Masonry, David DeSandro, called Isotope.
“It’s built for sorting and filtering large data sets and has great visual cues for doing so,” Curry said. “Expect to see more from CRT using technology like this.”
The website is also developed utilizing open source software. Drupal powers the CMS (content management system).
“Over the past few years, we’ve focused our development on using open-source software because of cost and ability to maintain,” Curry said. “If the software code is freely available, it allows us to provide more value to our product and to the community as a whole.”
Curry hopes to grow the content and add interactivity to the platform. What does the future hold for the site?
“Our showcase members have been great spokespeople for the site,” Curry said. “We are going to add more and we are looking to have them all over the country as resources for AEs (association executives) and ambassadors on a national level. We see the site being more educational, with interviews on apps, more lists of popular apps based on categories, and more interactive content.”