Posted: Tuesday, October 21st, 2008
Since the launch of our local school data and tools at the beginning of September, we’ve been working hard to improve the services and to respond to user suggestions. We’ve added a number of new features to the tools to increase performance and the user experience. Our Local Schools widget now allows users to show schools within a certain school district or show schools within an entire county, city, or particular zip code. The web service has similarly been enhanced and now includes multi-call and auto-expand radius functionality, and city-level information, such as average test scores and number of schools within a city.
With the launch of these new features, we thought it was a great time to reach out to a new set of users and used it as an opportunity to attend the California Association of REALTORS Expo conference in Long Beach, CA. The Expo gave us the opportunity to share the local school data and tools with agents, brokers, and other real estate sites at the largest real estate trade show in the state of California. Finding the right neighborhood school is an integral part of the real estate buying process and access to accurate and up-to-date school information can deliver a lot of value for real estate agents and their clients. Over 500 interested real estate professionals learned how to customize a Local Schools widget for their own site or blog by choosing the city, zip code, school district, or county they serve and customizing the color and size of the tool to fit seamlessly on their site.
REALTORS shared their enthusiasm for including school information directly on their website for their clients so easily. It was clear that valuable information often comes at a high price, and the simple fact that the widget and school information are free was surprising and exciting to all we met. We also shared the school data web service with many in the real estate field. The web service gives developers access to the complete SchoolFinder database via an API key and was of interest to a variety of listing and search sites, such as our friends at eppraisal.com, as well as numerous regional brokerage firms.
We learned quite a bit from our second time exhibiting (the first time was at last year’s National PTA Conference in San Diego, CA). Our lime green Education.com lunch bags were a huge hit with everyone at the conference and we should have brought twice as many to the expo! Also, standing all day is exhausting… good thing there was a booth selling foot massagers not too far away! Lastly, it helps to have a friendly face in the booth approach the passersby, as Education.com’s Patrick proved to us- the ladies loved him!
We were thrilled with the response from the real estate community at the Expo and hope to continue our outreach and share our SchoolFinder tools across the country. The Local Schools widget continues to evolve, the newly added feature to customize the widget for a school district or an entire county was a result of helpful feedback from users. Also, a WordPress plugin has been implemented so that bloggers can insert the widget successfully in WordPress blogs. We hope to continue to improve our tools, so please let us know what you think! Send any comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.