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Florida Association of Realtors


>> site information

The Organization

Founded in 1916, the Florida Association of Realtors® (FAR) is the largest trade association in the state of Florida with 125,000 members and more than 17,000 member firms. FAR’s mission is to advance Florida’s real estate industry by shaping public policy on real property issues; encouraging, promoting and teaching consistent standards for ethical practice and professionalism; and building on the efforts of local Boards/Associations to provide the information and tools members need to succeed.

FAR members enjoy a multitude of benefits, including: business transaction contracts and forms, networking opportunities, educational offerings, research and legislative representation, programs, and services—much of which is managed through the Association’s website.

The Situation

With nearly 4,000 Web pages to maintain FAR had a large task of managing content. The Association’s homegrown content management solution made it a challenge to manage and organize so much information.  The solution also required that content contributors possess a certain level of technical knowledge, so content entry had to be performed by a small group of users possessing the required skills. FAR also needed a more effective way to communicate with its member base. Association members, who depend on FAR for up-to-date information, sometimes found it difficult to navigate the site and locate desired information.

The Solution

Fast and Easy Implementation
FAR’s goal was to launch an entirely new website. To do so, it first needed to find a feature-rich Web content management solution that would integrate with its existing infrastructure and applications (such as Oracle); and that non-technical users would readily embrace. FAR evaluated many vendors before narrowing in on the CommonSpot Web content management solution by PaperThin.

“We’re very focused on providing Association members with the information and services they need to succeed in Florida’s Realtor community. We felt that CommonSpot’s inherent flexibility and ability to integrate with our existing applications made it the best solution to help us better organize Web content and optimize member experiences on the site.”

Eric Forsman, FAR Manager of Applications Development

Content Ownership Shifted from IT to Business Users
FAR devised a strategy that promised to enable business users to take control of the day-to-day management of content and alleviate the need for technical contributors. For the initial site redesign, FAR implemented a completely new look and feel. Using CommonSpot’s robust template architecture FAR locked down all new navigation and design templates, allowing only those users with specific roles and permissions to make changes to the master design. The template architecture enabled FAR to manage the design of the site more effectively, while not losing control of the brand. Business users (marketing and communications) also eagerly embraced CommonSpot for its intuitive user interface, Mac compatibility, and inherent ease of use—and it showed. FAR improved the site’s look and feel, and enabled content contributors to easily create and maintain content on a timely basis without the need for IT intervention.

Search and Content Organization Improved
The website had improved considerably, but when asked for feedback, members indicated that it still had a ways to go. FAR supplied members with all types of information, but finding the right information often proved difficult. FAR devised a new strategy that would help Association members better navigate the vast amounts of content contained in the websites’ more than 4,000 pages. To accomplish this goal, FAR first integrated CommonSpot with the Google search engine to improve site searchability. Next, FAR business users leveraged CommonSpot’s rich metadata architecture to easily tag, organize, and relate content throughout the site so that members could quickly locate the exact information they were searching for. Finally, FAR created a customized user interface called “My Favorites” that enabled members to bookmark frequently visited pages, and easily navigate to them in one click. The reaction from Association members was positive and immediate.

Award Winning Design
Perhaps a little wiser after completing several website initiatives, FAR implemented a new design that leveraged CommonSpot to configure design templates with pinpoint accuracy. CommonSpot enabled FAR to have complete control over the design and layout—without compromising the users’ ability to manage content.  In 2007, the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) awarded FAR with its ‘Best of the Web’ award for Outstanding Design.

“The FAR site is an amazing tool for [the Realtor community]. From the opening page, FAR is serving its membership with the tools that they need to be successful. From the menu bar to the search bar, we found everything we were looking for without having to “look.”

National Association of Realtors’ Judge

The Benefit

“Things have been going very smoothly. PaperThin’s help really played a big role in making the new website launch successful and an overall smarter process.”

Eric Forsman, FAR Manager of Applications Development

 



Site Information
URL: http://www.floridarealtors.org
Site Type: Internet


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