REA Group

Creating a high-performance home for REA Group.

How do you encourage world-class digital talent to find and join a new workplace, from all around the world?

REA Group is a digital media and technology business with more than 1,400 people working across three continents to change the way the world experiences property.

With over 20 brands in six countries, the team creates cutting edge design and technology to meet the demand associated with a booming global property market. And business is exactly that—booming—so REA Group is always on the lookout for top-tier talent to bring on board, from all over the world.

Having enjoyed significant growth over the past 20 years—from humble beginnings in a suburban garage to a publicly-listed technology powerhouse—the team at REA Group is busy pushing to maintain their impressive progress. With no sign of things slowing down, we teamed up to help REA Group roll out a compelling red carpet for prospective staff, potential investors and the media, through best-in-breed design and development of their global corporate website.

Sector

  • Technology, property, media

Presence

  • Global

The problem

REA Group’s mission is to change the way the world experiences property. That’s no easy task. To continue delivering on that lofty goal, REA Group need the world’s best and brightest talent; from front end developers to financial specialists, and everyone in between. Plus, they wanted to connect and convey their impressive progress for both current and future investors.

The approach

REA Group’s corporate website should reflect the sleek standard of their market-facing commercial products. As a result, the site performs at lightning speeds, and dynamically serves up relevant content based on where you are in the world: job listings, office locations and contact information, and more. Plus, like a good property ad, we had to highlight all the excellent features and benefits that come with calling REA Group home.

The end-game

Bring home the best talent in the business, to ultimately help REA Group continue changing the way the world experiences property. How? By creating a site with impressive technical performance, intuitive application processes—from both a potential employee and administrative perspective—and positioning REA Group as an employer of choice through highly detailed, high quality design, content and photography.

REA Group's Head Office in Melbourne, Australia

As an enterprise-level design and technology business, collaborating with REA Group involved ‘walking the talk’: shooting for the same technical standards offered in their commercial products. Or higher.

WORKDAY WORK-AROUNDS

First thing's first: if you hope to attract highly discerning UX, design, and technology professionals, you should offer the highest standards in those disciplines throughout the application experience.

We developed an entirely custom Workday solution to provide a superior application process.

Workday is an enterprise resource planning platform that powers hundreds of the world’s largest organisations. While the default Workday solution is completely serviceable, we wanted to create a premium, considered experience to complement the high standards of the wider REA Group site.

We used the Workday API to build customised job filters and additional functionality to improve the application process.

With the new solution, REA Group can embed job listings at multiple relevant points throughout the site; automatically prioritise the promotion of local jobs in different geographical regions around the world; enjoy greater access to information and data associated with candidacy processes; highlight latest job listings; and offer a far superior user experience in general.

IMPLEMENTING THE CUSTOM WORKDAY SOLUTION

Delivering unique functionality involved the development of a Wordpress plugin, and collaboration with a third-party integrator.

We developed our own PHP library to integrate with Workday’s SOAP API. Sandbox environments allowed us to prototype functionality and iterate quickly to optimise performance and usability.

Working closely with a third-party Workday integrator, we created a custom WordPress plugin to handle communications with Workday.

No comparable plugins exist on the market; it’s a completely custom solution that reiterates REA Group’s commitment to pioneering the highest standards in user experience and digital design.

APPLIED BENEFITS

REA Group's completely custom Workday application platform creates a huge range of benefits to offer potential employees an easy, efficient, and enjoyable application process.

First up, the custom platform offers improved speed and responsiveness when compared with the off-the-shelf Workday solution. From a design perspective, all call-to-actions and buttons are larger and more prominent within the interface, and the filters are easier to use, to ensure people can find the right role and apply quickly.

With GeoIP, we detect every visitors’ location to ensure the platform pushes local—and therefore more relevant, job listings to the top of any career opportunities listing.

We can also provide in context links to team pages, or REA Group office profile pages, to provide potential employees with additional information about where they may be working, and whom with.

If you want to attract the best, build to the highest standards. From very early on, we worked with Google's RAIL performance model to ensure the entire site is highly performant. Basically, we took the time to ensure it's fast.

PROPERTIES OF HIGH PERFORMANCE

Site performance is commonly affected by large server requests for unintentionally huge image files. Not in this house.

The culprit is usually a catalogue of uncompressed images people upload straight to the CMS over time. We built a two-part solution to eliminate this issue.

The first is an automated compression plugin that automatically minimises the file size of an image as part of the upload process.

The second is a technique to delay loading any unnecessary offscreen images. Each image is only processed as it comes into view, to reduce the initial page size. The benefit is a site that feels significantly faster on first load, particularly on mobile, due to significant savings on bandwidth requirements.

Smooth animations through compositing properties

Fittingly, watching browsers ‘paint’—or render the representation of pixels we see on a screen—is like watching paint dry.

It’s the most resource intensive element of the page loading process and it causes sites to feel sluggish.

To avoid triggering browser paints, we only use the opacity and transform CSS properties to animate elements on the page.

The resource-intensive elements of each page gradually load after establishing ‘first-paint’ within milliseconds. While actual load times are critical, ‘perceived performance’ can be just as valuable in conveying a sense of speed.

Tested using a simulated fast 3G connection with 4x CPU slowdown after a 1.5 second server response.

‘Instead of animating using the blur property, which triggers a browser paint and holds things up, we use smaller image files which have been ‘stretched’ to recreate a blur effect through the transform property.

These smaller image files load much faster, creating enough time—around 50 milliseconds—for the full-sized image to load underneath. Once the file for the full-size image is loaded, the stretch-blurred smaller image we’ve created gradually fades through opacity.

Because the page styling remains constant with this approach, there’s no need for the browser to trigger a paint, and the site feels infinitely faster than it would otherwise.’

Jon Trumbull, Senior Developer

Navigation considerations

The entire website is effectively developed as a ‘single page application’ to make page transitions feel seamless.

As you navigate, the content is the only thing swapped out and refreshed, rather than consistently re-triggering the browser to load a new HTML document for each page.

This approach creates a more cohesive, luxe experience to align with REA Group’s premium brand, and provides the opportunity to experiment with a variety of unique loading transitions between pages.

UX Excellence

With lightning-quick load speeds and seamless page transitions sorted, we held detailed testing sessions with REA Group's User Experience design lab. The site doesn't just load rapidly: it quickly and intuitively points people in the right direction too.

Firstly, working in close collaboration with REA Group’s Talent Acquisition teams, we mapped all the unique user pathways that potential employees may navigate throughout the website, and identified any supporting content and functionalities to support them in those journeys.

Based on the insights from the journey mapping sessions, we created prototypes for two separate user-testing sessions: focusing on employees first and investors second. Each session was recorded, with the insights used to ensure real people were at the forefront of every design decision.

Real applicants and shareholders helped us to understand the perspectives of potential employees and investors. These insights ironed out some early usability kinks and informed the design of features moving forward.

'This was a process of balancing usability best-practice while raising the profile of the REA Group brand throughout the interface designs.

The site has to be clean, clear and intuitive—to highlight REA Group’s commitment to leading principles of UX design—but we wanted to showcase the organisation’s fingerprint to capitalise on the clear equity in their identity.

It’s about creating something that feels immediately familiar, but also distinctively representative of REA Group and their various locations and brands around the world.’

Elliott Grigg, Senior Content Strategist

Security through secure I.T.

When you factor every detail to create a well-designed and high-performance home, it's worth reinforcing the doors and windows to make sure they're impenetrable.

As a leading digital business, REA Group shoots for the highest standards in every capacity, including enterprise security and hosting requirements.

From a security perspective, we developed a solution to reflect the robustness of REA Group’s wider standards in engineering diligence. Security’s always paramount, but it’s particularly critical in this case given REA Group’s status as an ASX-listed public company operating in the digital space.

With real-time stock prices listed on the site via IRM integration—along with other critical business details and information—any external impact or manipulation could have significant consequences on share price and overall company equity.

After establishing REA Group’s unique business requirements, we created a tailored hosting environment with Amazon Web Services.

To ensure the impenetrability of the environment, a third-party penetration tester was enlisted to search for any potential vulnerabilities, no matter how minor. Additionally, automated scans continuously search the environment for any potential weak points, and alert multiple parties if anything is worth manually monitoring.

'Through Amazon’s Elastic Container Service, we automated the optimisation of various resources to ensure no manual intervention is required to maintain the highest site performance possible.

We’ve defined dynamic resource requirements for Elastic Container Service to continuously monitor and maintain. An example would be automatically scaling the number of Virtual Machines required to maintain high performance despite fluctuations in traffic or server availability.

These resources are spread across availability zones in geo-dispersed data centres: the scheduler optimises where it draws resources from to ensure uptime in the unlikely event that any availability zone experiences downtime.’

James Otter, Development Operations Engineer

THE PLACE FOR WORLD CLASS DIGITAL TALENT

Check out REA Group’s new home from the comfort of your own—or anywhere else for that matter—and see how they're revolutionising the global property game.

You’ll get the latest in technology, design and more. If you’ve got any interest in code, CX, UX, brand, or building things, you might just find an opportunity that catches your eye!

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