Background

Photography and videography are not new to the world of real estate business. They are an absolutely necessity for every single home that is ever sold. However, it is not uncommon to come across horrible listing photos taken with low quality cameras or cell phones on MLS (Multiple Listing Services). Our client set out on a journey to change that and replace those horrible photos with visual assets that help engage viewers whether that is for selling a home or for increasing social media presence.

Requirements

Though scheduling photo shoots for selling a home sounds like a simple process, it isn’t that simple when one is trying to do something unique and exclusive with extremely high levels of professionalism.

The client needed help streamlining the work as much as possible for their customers and staff members (administrators, editors, and photographers).

They were using google calendars to schedule the shoots for their photographers. They needed an application that could enable them to keep all information related to a photoshoot in one place.

Instructions for the photo shoot, Invoices, Media history, Photographer’s pay breakdown, Client’s credit history, Photoshoot edit capabilities, Promotional/Referral credits for the sales team were just some of the features the client required in this app.

We hired Asahi Tech to build our real estate customer management platform from scratch. Their responsiveness, hard work and ability to communicate proactively with our team has led to a strong partnership with our team.

Noel Hwande

Director of Technology, HomeSnappers

Solution

To address the needs of the client, we developed a web portal and a mobile app.

Web portal

The web portal had logins for the client and all staff members involved in a photoshoot.

  • Client login: Through this portal, clients can book appointments to snap photos of their house. They are provided with various options to shoot including home interiors, aerial view, HD videos, dollhouse and more. Clients login to this portal to see the photos, videos and dollhouse photos once the shoot is complete. They can then choose to share the photos with their brokers and list for sale.

  • Admin login: Through this admin portal, administrators can set and control various specifics about the shoot including photographer assignment, event assignment, and shoor timings. Most importantly, once the administrator sets up a shoot, the photographer and the client get updates via push notifications and e-mails.

  • Editor login: Editors can upload images and videos for a client once the photoshoot is complete.

  • Photographer login: Photographers can see only the shoot information which is necessary for them to proceed with the shoot.

Mobile app

After a shoot is scheduled by the administrator, the photographer receives the address for the shoot, and client requirements via a ticket that is created in the photographer’s mobile app. Thereafter, photographers can update the information there as the shoot progresses to completion.

Challenges

Schema database

Database schema for photoshoot is an important asset that is connected to all other schemas. We thought through this thoroughly and had several strategy discussions with the client before finalizing this schema because this forms the foundation for future expansion of the application as the business grows.

Complex UI Design

We used stepper UI design for most UI components to provide a pleasant user experience. We carefully identified the components that were common for all interfaces, and ones used exclusively for certain user interfaces. Though the UI design was complex in the backend, for the end user, most functionality was achieved with a simple drag and drop.

We setup the project in basecamp, and built the application in multiple phases starting with MVP (Minimum Viable Product). We used MERN stack (MongoDB, Express JS, React JS, and Node JS) for development of web portal. For caching and storing the API data and to minimize API fetching, we used Redux. Separately, we used a full calendar library for data scheduling and ANT UI framework as the UI design framework. To develop a mobile app for photographers, we used Ionic framework with React as the front-end language and developed a hybrid app which enabled the mobile app to work on iOS, Android and Windows phones.

We integrated with several libraries for this project:

  • Full-calendar – To schedule the photo shoot
  • Amazon S3 bucket – To upload the images and view them
  • Amazon CloudWatch Logs – To log the warnings, errors, info and API performance related information in AWS.
  • Google maps for React – For map view representation
  • Paypal and Stripe – To facilitate payments
  • Websocket/Socket.io – For photographer mobile app
  • Formik – For form validation and creation

Additionally, there were integrations for web design, namely parallax, video player, react-simple light-box, carousel images, and much more to give a perfect effect for the website.

Results

  • The solution we developed for the client enables them to handle all details of the photoshoot in one place – appointment scheduling, choosing photoshoot options, assigning photographer, managing photos, uploading for client access, and much more.
  • All the manual work tied to photoshoot administration was automated.
  • Availability of pay breakdown for photographers eliminated the need for cumbersome calculations in excel spreadsheets.
  • Administrators could easily update pricing information on the backend depending on market conditions without having to go through any elaborate deployments each time.
  • Discount, credit and coupon management capabilities that we built into the application enabled customers of the client to claim their coupons automatically when they refer someone to sign up with the client. Refund credits and automatic promo coupon generation helped the client look highly professional in front of their customers.

Benefits

  • Automation of the entire photoshoot process enabled client’s employees (administrators, editors and photographers) to focus on more important tasks that improved the bottom line of their business.
  • Mobile app used by photographers enables them to manage their schedule very effectively without having to deal with any of the administrative work usually associated with photoshoots.
  • Client facing web portal enables customers of the client to access the photos online immediately after the shoot, thereby enhancing the professional image of the client and their business.

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