Duke’s Up: A Digital Case Study

3 min read

Duke Realty Website

How a strong client relationship led to a leaner, meaner website for a commercial real estate giant.

Earlier this year, the national commercial real estate company Duke Realty began to shift its portfolio to focus exclusively on industrial and medical properties. It’s the kind of pivot that might make some companies nervous. But Duke saw it as a chance to continue redefining itself—a process that began in 2013 with a rebrand and a new website built by Well Done Marketing.

Of course, three years is an eternity when it comes to websites. Duke needed a new one that reflected the company’s new focus, and that functioned even better than before. “The old site required a lot of drilling down to find the right information,” Duke Realty Brand Manager Saundra Gilbert said. “We thought it could be streamlined.”

With that in mind, Well Done’s technology team saw the project as an opportunity to establish a more elegant user experience for the overall site and to make significant upgrades to Spacefinder–a custom search tool developed by Well Done back in 2013.

After a couple of months of work, Well Done delivered a new site that improved on the previous one in every way. It’s more modern, more attractive, and more user-friendly—and it features a vastly improved Spacefinder. “This time, the tools are at the forefront,” Gilbert said. “And there’s a clear path to the industrial and medical sides.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 1.55.46 PM

While Gilbert and her team are plenty pleased with their new site, Well Done Developer Josh Apgar says success wouldn’t have been possible without such a strong collaborative relationship with Gilbert’s team. “That relationship makes a huge difference,” said Apgar, who developed the latest version of Spacefinder. “This time around we were all about increasing the functionality and the user experience, and one of the reasons we were able to do it so successfully is that we’ve really gotten to know Duke.”

“We know the client so well at this point,” added Well Done Director of Technology Brian Deer. “It allows us to anticipate their challenges and solve problems much more efficiently.”

Chief among those challenges was Spacefinder itself. “It’s a behemoth,” Deer said. “And the last version had gotten a little messy. As the client’s needs changed, we added on new features, which mucked things up over time. This time around, we had a 360-degree understanding of the clients’ vision and goals up front.”

The new version of Spacefinder is map-enabled, includes multiple filter options, and allows users to browse Duke’s thousands of available properties by geographic market and property type. When a user finds a property she likes, she can view a photo of the property and drill down into even deeper details. It’s an impressively robust tool, and it works like a charm.

Duke Realty Spacefinder II
Spacefinder is map-enabled and features filters that allow the user to customize his search by city, state, submarket, and maximum/minimum square footage.

“From a development standpoint, Spacefinder had to be easy for Duke to update without affecting other parts of the application,” Apgar said. “We also wanted to deliver a tool that could cooperate with their existing database and their internal application seamlessly.”

The new and improved Spacefinder sets the bar for commercial real estate search tools, Deer said. “To my knowledge, there’s not another commercial real estate company that’s doing anything as slick as Spacefinder. And that goes for the overall site design as well. Our competitive analysis didn’t turn up any commercial real estate websites this modern-looking or that functioned this well.”

According to Gilbert, the competition agrees. “We heard from someone at another industrial and commercial real estate company recently,” she said. “He loved the update. He actually said, ‘Major compliments.’”