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Top Villas

Top Villas


Full Stack Developer

Stack Tecnologico

PHP, WordPress

Top Italian Villas is a real estate agency based in Milan.

Another WordPress website? Think again.

What seems like a fairly straightforward website from the outside, is a full-fledged PHP software built to manage the whole real estate business.

My client was already using a custom-built solution, managing his luxury properties catalogue, contacts and rent/sell operations. The previous app was already solid from a data architecture standpoint, but was slow, lacking flexibility and a way to easily edit content.

Top Villas - Homepage
Top Villas - Property Edit

At the time (2016) the JavaScript ecosystem wasn't as mature as today, therefore WordPress was the obvious solution and the best option from a user experience perspective. My main concern was developing a complex application on a relatively simple blogging platform, but I was underestimating the power of custom plugins.

Before writing any code, I sat through dozens of meetings with the client to gain a deep understanding of his process. I took a modular approach, building micro-services that could be improved, scaled and connected to each other.

After a full year of work, I had perfected each module for production use.
Search Engine

Query for rent/sale status, location, amenities and distance from the sea. This feature is not only useful for the final user but in administration as well: being able to filter houses on very specific features and send them directly to clients.

PDF Export

Each property has a set of templates for PDF generation, based on its current status and available fields. For both rent and sale templates there's a confidential option, showing the exact location of the house on a map.

Google Drive / Dropbox integration

Import and export images on external cloud providers. It includes a compression option to lower the file size on the server and improve page load time.

Gmail integration

Automatically create a label on Gmail to organize emails, based on a dynamic and customizable set of rules. Has a default template for each destination email, but can be customized on a per-object basis.

Mailchimp integration

Create mailing lists and user segments on the fly, without leaving the administration back-office and enabling direct marketing with very little effort.

Rates / Booking

Baked in spreadsheet functionalities to calculate property rates based on different factors.

Top Villas - Property List
Top Villas - PDF Export
Top Villas - Destinations Grid
Top Villas - Search Engine
Greater than the sum of its parts

Building a full-stack web application from the ground up has taught me plenty, from technical skills to project management.

Here are some of the challenges I had to overcome to ship this project:

  • Anticipate the client's needs: listen carefully before writing any code, plan and leave room for building new features alongside the requested ones.
  • Manage multiple timelines: each module required multiple iterations, testing and in some cases external support (e.g. authentication for Gmail and Google Drive on multiple emails). Avoid getting stuck on one feature and keep moving.
  • Pay attention to detail, but keep the big picture in mind: it's very easy to fall into optimization madness on a single feature, but it's fundamental to always have a clear map of the application as a whole.

This project is a very important milestone in my career and has allowed me to develop both my soft and hard skills. To this day is one of the more diverse and complex platforms I've built entirely by myself.

Dopo tutto, si ha una sola vita.
Tanto vale realizzare qualcosa di grande.

Contattaci e sentiamo le tue idee!