Week of September 6, 1999
  Editor's Choice Web Pick
   of the Week

PikeNet's Redesign: Yea, Verily,
a Trailblazer Gets Even Better

In the beginning, . . . there was the World Wide Web, and there was real estate. And no one quite knew how the twain should break bread together. Yea, verily, the people were vexed, and in their spiritual struggle, they cried out, "Huh?"

Then came the creation: Peter Pike, already a successful San Francisco broker/consultant, boldly ventured into the cyber-void and founded PikeNet. And the people desirously brushed their mouse pads and said, "Yea, verily, this is most good. How exactly do I do this bookmark thing?"

Okay, the story isn't exactly an Old Testament stem-winder. Nonetheless, it describes a moment in March of 1996 that marked one of the times when the phrase "paradigm shift" proved to be much more than empty rhetoric. Unquestionably, Peter Pike set into motion a whole host of major cyber-changes - one of them likely reflected in the fact that you're reading this online missive. PikeNet (www.pikenet.com) is certainly a -- if not the -- trailblazing Web site in the real estate realm.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Pike has implemented a major PikeNet redesign. If you're a new cybernaut with a real estate itch to scratch, you'll find a lot to like here. If you're a PikeNet vet, you'll find even more to like than before, particularly when it comes to sharp-but-clean graphics, seamless interfaces, "searchability" and wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am loading speed.

'Links 'R Us' a Fitting Alias

"Links 'R Us" would be a fitting alias for PikeNet, and in the case of this site that's a very high compliment.

The site's "PikeNet Directory" section provides an eye-popping 3,000-plus links to worldwide real estate information resources and real estate service providers. No site we've seen comes even remotely close to that 3,000-link number (and if yours does, you've done a distressingly fine job of hiding your light under the proverbial bushel).

Moreover, the redesigned PikeNet smoothly simplifies the process of sorting through those myriad links - which would've been a monstrous task without this site's navigation-savvy approach. The home page has click-offs for broad categories of links, including, for example, "Brokerage," "Consulting," "Financial" and "REITs & Institutions." The site also provides helpful "step-by-step directions and tips" for some of the better sites to use, and how to use them, in ferreting out specific kinds of information.

PikeNet's search capability, however, allows users to burrow down with more specificity.

Searches, for example, can be designed to take in not only PikeNet's web links, but also the site's PikeNet Dispatch and "Success Stories" sections. That gives users the ability to unearth more relevant information form the original content in latter two sections of the site - which require a bit of explanation for PikeNet newcomers.

PikeNet Dispatch, an e-mail newsletter that users can subscribe to on-site, is another Peter Pike move that broke the mould. The Dispatch has proved to be a major draw for the real estate audience, with more than 6,000 subscribers. (And, yes, in the interest of full disclosure, the SiteNet Dispatch's editorial staff quite obviously appropriated that last word of Peter Pike's popular e-mail missive - oh, hell, we not only "appropriated" it, we stole it.)

The current issue of PikeNet Dispatch is online on PikeNet. What's more, the beauty of the site's search capability is that you can also pull up previous items from the Dispatch, which tends to focus on bite-sized but link-rich news that's on the leading edge.

Users may also find value in PikeNet's "Success Stories" section, at least if they're interested in "success on the web -- either making money or saving time," as the site describes these cyber-tales.

For example, one success story focuses on how Chicago-based Scribcor, a provider of consulting and lease administration services, has implemented an extranet system that can work with any property management software. As a result, a Scribcor executive explains, "When one of the operating units of Columbia Energy Group wants information about a leased or owned location, they simply log on to our web site, enter their password, and have access to their abstracts, image copies of the legal documents and even reports."

Web Reviews That Matter

PikeNet also gets major props from this corner for refusing to join many web sites' lemming-like run toward indiscriminately throwing reams of content online with no concern for quality.

Instead, PikeNet offers what are arguably the industry's best reviews of real estate-related sites, rating them from one to five stars through a solid methodology that's explained in detail in the "PikeNet Info" section's "FAQs" click-off. (Psst, Peter. Two words: www.sitenet.com and www.siteselection.com. We now abstain from further shameless self-promotion and return you to our regularly scheduled content.)

PikeNet's web site review section is a particularly useful feature, given how cyberspace is rapidly displacing traditional, hush-you're-in-the-library research methodologies. In a similar vein, the site's "Message Boards" section provides valuable communal give and take. You'll need to register for the message boards. After registration, though, users can post messages and questions on a variety of topics, including job openings, U.S. sales and financing, "average rents and sales comps," new market research, and software and technology. All in all, a solid redesign of a solid site.

And the people once more desirously brushed their mouse pads, and they said, "Yea, verily, what was most good before is now even better." And peace reigned and mouse pad sales soared throughout the land.



©1999 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.