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09.14.2014

Floor plans: Online Consumer engagement reaching new levels with Alpha Vision Room Planner HTML5

Since we launched Space Planner as part of our website suite, a little over 5 years, we were shocked by the success of our online furniture planning tool.  It immediately became one of the most popular features used by home buyers. Since then, more than 500,000 floor plans were furnished by home buyers by consumers spending in average more than 12 minutes furnishing their dream home online. Not only the tool has proven to keep consumers longer on our builders’ websites, it has also increased lead registrations when prospective home buyers saved their configuration.

service-interactive-floor-plan

But those impressive numbers are only a fraction of what they could be.  Why? Originally flash-based, this tool required that consumers be on a flash-compatible device. The popularity of tablets has grown to a very important number now:  in fact according to our VPS analytics, last year this number was around 13% and today almost 25% of our VPS users are using it from a tablet. This is why, last summer, seeing the important growth of tablet users, Alpha Vision took the decision to start developing the next generation furniture planner in HTML5.  In addition to port our Flash application in HTML5, we had no less than the goal of creating the best user experience, intuitive and taking full advantage of multi-touch engagement for tablets.

The Room Planner requirements are based on invaluable feedback from our vast homebuilder clients’ base as well as their Sales Executives and Consumers, collected within the last 4 years. With this vast understanding, we went back to the drawing board with a series of clear requirements to make our Next-Generation Room planner the most engaging Online Experience available, and also the most powerful and cost-effective tool supporting the sales and marketing of new homes.

The technical challenges to develop a tool like this in HTML5 where quite big compared to developing it using Flash development tools and player.  Flash is quite a mature technology with lots of powerful development libraries to choose from. Also there is some benefit of having only one company behind a technology, there is less incompatibility. On the opposite side, HTML5 is still an unfinished technology that is still today evolving, plus all HTML5 Web browsers have their own evolution at implementing HTML5 standards. We had to do extensive research and testing to find out development libraries that were suitable for our needs. Most of the libraries we found were not powerful enough to allow us to create the type of functionalities that were required. That’s why we had created our own set of core functions to allow us to create the end user experience we wanted.

For almost 1 year, we had a group of HTML5 developers working on this project and today I can say that I’m pleased with the results.

  • FRONT END
    • We have a powerful and easy to use items browser; once you found the items of your choice, it’s as simple as drag and drop to position the item on the floor plan. Then you can very easily move, rotate, scale and duplicate items as those tools are just at your fingertip and at the right place near the 4 corners of the selected item.
    • There’s a properties box that displays only once a furniture is selected; users can set precise dimensions or rotation, pick a color, flip item horizontally or vertically and lock the selected item. The lock tool is quite useful when the floor plan has lots of items and you don’t want to mess around with them when you pan and zoom moving your fingers on the floor plan.
  • BACK END
    • We also build a powerful CMS that allows the builder to edit the catalogue of items; they can remove or add any items they need, as well as create new custom catalogues and brand the items with a manufacture or a store. This opens up lots of co-marketing business opportunities for the industry.  Now every user’s actions are tracked within the system so that we’re now able to provide extensive analytics for you, allowing you to know your customers better.

Take advantage of it today – learn more on alphaplans!

Jonathan Brosseau