Elizabeth raised a wonderful question in regards to advertising and mapping. She is worried that a mapping site will just be covered in advertising. Firstly we need to look at the current market leader realestate.com.au.
I am going to ignore the celebrations going on on realestate.com.au’s site (site pretty much shuts down in Firefox browser until balloons finish loading – 10% of visitors)
I have marked out in pink all of the advertising on the home page of realestate.com.au and this is not including pop ups!
The home page is about 420 kilobytes in size, which takes around 15 seconds to load with basic broadband and 6 months (about 80 seconds really) on a 56k modem.
So in answer to Elizabeth’s worry about mapping sites being free and using an advertising model that carries too much advertising, I think we can safely say that they will not go to this extreme.
There is no model for success in this area as it is totally new, but I will let everyone know what I think they should be like for the user.
1. Large Resizable Map: The map must resizable both horizontally and vertically. This is the most important thing for the user in my opinion. Bothy domain and realestate.com.au have it in a small box, which in my opionion is useless for the user. Also why should people with larger monitors suffer because a section of the population (less than 24% have small 800 x 600 monitor sizes? This way it suits everyone. 1024 + is becoming the norm (+60% of users have this size or larger) and many people have much larger monitors these days as prices have plumetted over the past 2 years.
2. Main Header: This should carry logo and contact information of the portal and other links to portal pages.
3. Search Header: Below the main header should be the search header, is could pop down using AJAX and it should carry all the tools the users need for searching.
4. Information Layers: Above the footer should be information layers that carry additional information that the user may find useful such as local schools shopping centres etc
6. Advertising: Each property pop up would carry only 1 advertisement and it is short a brief and non intrusive.
So this in my opinion should be the norm for this kind of development. It still can be sexy, but it must be functional for the user.
Getting agents on board is another thing altogether, but services like HubOnline, Portplus and my company Agentpoint export to many different sites and I am sure that the new Realmap site will be added to their export list.