Why We Don't Build Websites


This, We Do Not Do Ever since the announcement of Lifestyle Listings Engine, we have been extraordinarily busy here at Onboard Informatics.  The response from the industry, from all of you, has been frankly gratifying.  It seems that we have hit a nerve, a real need that many of you have been feeling for years now.

Now, the product is launching officially in about three weeks.  (That sound you hear is the cracking of the whip in the hands of Liam Dayan, our CTO and GM of Listings, as he uh... encourages... the team to finish with all of the details that bedevil any major development project.)  So in order to illustrate the concept of Lifestyle Search, or Human Centered Search, we put together a little Flash demo to help people see what we're talking about.

Invariably, after one of the demos, we get a question along the lines of, "That's fantastic guys, but I think the map is too small."

This is usually when we point out that we don't build websites, and we don't really like to even get into user interface design.

And the usual response is, "Why not?  You guys obviously know a ton about making effective websites."

Well, yes... yes we do.  But we still don't build websites.  Allow me to explain.

The Creative Edge

At core of Onboard's mission and identity is the fact that we help our clients be more successful.  We know what we're good at -- damn good at, actually -- and that's data, data, and technology, and data.  Did I mention data?  And technology?

We've been helping clients in real estate, media, and technology for years now with the highest quality data products -- in effect, helping them humanize their websites with information that their consumers are seeking.

Dont Cage Me, Man!

What we have learned over time is that our clients are some of the brightest minds in real estate, and some of the most creative.  They understand that the web, as an extension of their brand and of their company, is a critical element in competitive differentiation.  And even though it costs literally orders of magnitude more to create a custom site from scratch, most of them choose to do just that -- because creativity and design are key competitive factors in today's world.

Some of our clients have top-notch in-house design and creative, while others use some of the best firms and best designers in the world in bringing their vision to life.  We have been honored to work alongside some of these people, advising them on how best to utilize our data to achieve the client's goals.

The last thing we want to do is to blunt the client's creative edge by putting in restrictions and barriers by our user interface or our design.

We know that our clients want something unique, something uniquely theirs, and that they have the talent to bring their vision (not ours) to life.

The Ecosystem

Furthermore, while we do know quite a bit about designing and building top-notch real estate websites -- some of us even have quite a bit of experience doing just that -- we feel that there are some great companies in our industry who specialize in design, user interface, SEO, and web development.  We partner with many of them, and quite a few of them are our clients as well.

And our philosophy is that a healthy industry is more like an ecosystem than it is a Risk-style zero-sum game.  Onboard plays a role in the ecosystem, but so do dozens, hundreds of other companies and people.  Our vision is that by strengthening the whole, by uplifting the industry as a whole, we will also benefit.

So we want to be really, really good at our part.  That is data, and foundational technology like the Lifestyle Listings Engine, which enables other companies to build the next-generation of search into their products and websites.  And we want others to be really, really good at doing their part.

We're Willing to Help

With those two things in mind -- that we don't want to limit creativity, and that we are part of an ecosystem in real estate -- we are always willing to help companies, clients, and partners accomplish their objectives by sharing our information, our collective best-practices, and lessons we've learned over the years.  We do this routinely as part of client service through our relationship management team, and we are always talking with friends and partners about how they can best achieve their objectives.

When working with Onboard products and services doesn't make sense, we're not afraid to advise people to go elsewhere to be successful.

And we are always willing to help.

But we don't build websites.  We'd rather help you build your own, to bring your vision to life.

For those of you who may not have design resources, or tech resources to implement some of our products immediately -- especially the Lifestyle Listings Engine -- rest assured: we are in talks with a number of companies who are just excellent at providing comprehensive web solutions.  Our clients and partners will be bringing forth a veritable smorgasbord of choices, creative applications, and unique solutions to you.  Watch this space for announcements. :)

Till next time!


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