We're delighted to announce that this week we've released touch.daft.ie, a version of Daft.ie optimised for iPhone and Android-powered mobile phones.
Over the last year we've seen a huge increase in traffic to Daft.ie from mobile devices. Traffic from smartphones to Daft has increased by over 230% since November of last year! And this figure doesn't include the traffic coming from the Daft iPhone app or iPad app.
We've had a mobile version of Daft available at http://m.daft.ie for several years now. It was originally aimed at WAP-enabled mobile phones, so it has very few images, and is designed for a fast download over a slow mobile connection. In the last couple of years the launch of the iPhone and Android-powered phones has meant that many mobile phones are now capable of handling a much richer browsing experience.
With this in mind we set out to build a version of the site which still loads quickly on a mobile connection, but provides a much richer browsing experience than the previous mobile site.
Accessing the site
If you visit Daft.ie on your iPhone or Android device, you will automatically be redirected to the equivalent page on touch.daft.ie. So if you see a link to a property or the latest Daft Report on Twitter or Facebook, clicking it will automatically bring you through to the mobile-optimised version of that page.
Mobile data connections are generally slower than fixed line ones, so when you view a property, only the main photo is shown by default. This photo is shown at a much higher resolution than the equivalent property seen on http://m.daft.ie.
Tapping on this photo launches a photo preview grid, which will be familiar to any of you who have used the Daft iPhone app. Selecting any photo thumbnail enlarges that photo in the image browser. You can then cycle through the photos by tapping on the image, or click "details" when you've seen enough and want to go back to the property detail page.
If the advertiser has entered a contact phone number, you can tap "Call" to ring them and arrange a viewing direct from the web site. The standard Daft functions are also available here - send an email reply, or share the ad with your friends via email. You can also share each property via Twitter or Facebook.
Our initial aim during development was to offer a user experience on a mobile device which is at least equal to that of using the main site. However there are certain areas where the mobile device beats the desktop, one of which is the awareness of its' own location. Most modern smartphones come equipped with a GPS capability, letting you share your current location with a website in order for it to give you more results more relevant to your location.
With this in mind, we've added a "Directions" option to each property to enable you to quickly find your way to your desired property.
On any Property Detail page, click the "Map" button in the top right of the screen to see a Google map with that property's location. Press the "Directions" button on this page and - if you have allowed the site to access your location - you will then be shown the quickest route from your current location to the property in question. Very handy if you're trying to work out the quickest commute from work to a potential new home!
The nearby search feature is an element of the mobile site with which we're particularly pleased. You can enter all of your search criteria as you would on the main Daft site, and opt to share your current location. Once this has been retrieved, your search is limited to properties matching your criteria and located in close proximity to your current location.
The main benefit of this feature is that, if you're looking for property in an area with which you're not familiar, you don't have to know the names of all adjacent areas, adding them to your search to avoid missing out on your ideal property. By selecting "Map View" on the search results page, you can also see the properties plotted on a map, their location shown relative to your current position.
Regular visitors to the blog will know that we recently launched QR codes for each property on Daft. At the time we didn't have a great mobile offering for smartphone users, so scanning a QR code of a property would still bring you to the full site.
Now, scanning a property QR code on your smartphone will bring you through to get all of that property's information, formatted for your device!
As with all of our new feature launches, we're keen to hear what you think about it, so let us know in the comments box below or via an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!