Retrospective of Ideal the responsive real estates website
At 3:00 am last Sunday, I uploaded my latest portfolio on Behance, it’s only 20 days since my previous one. The new project is a responsive website called “Ideal” that provides property buyers with information on properties of interest.
Purpose and context
Real estate investment is an increasingly popular way for individuals to achieve financial security. It is an exciting and emotional experience, but often complicated. While there are plenty of blogs and agencies providing information, often, buyers new to the market may struggle to get started without professional guidance and waste time viewing properties out of their range. This web app “Ideal” provides them with the expertise needed to get started efficiently.
There’s another reason I chose this project—my research background in information seeking and library search systems. I published a couple of papers on the topic how search website that help library users to find books; also, my research work in the Netherlands is on how doctors find helpful electronic healthcare records. All these are similar with finding real estates to a large extent. I can use my knowledge of information seeking theories, such as “berry-picking model” and “information scents”.
One uppermost goal I have in this project is to apply my information seeking knowledge in UI/UX design. Since I have 6 years of research experience in information science, I’m passionate to use my research insights to direct my design. Users are overwhelmed when drowned in the flood of real estate information, and it’s frustrating when don’t know which aspect to prioritize. The problem is common and the solution is universe—design more intuitive task flow and user interface. I can combine my information seeking knowledge and UI/UX design skills to achieve that.
The second goal is service-design-oriented. I want the website to support users’ real estate buying journey holistically. In this sense, the website isn’t just a house searching platform, but a handy assistant that helps the user choose and accompany related tasks as a handy toolkit.
It is a lean project, so I applied a lean UX methodology and followed the build-measure-learn loop. In the beginning, I create a minimum viable product that fulfills the users’ basic needs, and then I test the prototype with real-world users to find out any usability errors and validate the value proposition. After that, I use what I learned from the testing to improve the prototype. And the loop goes on and on.
The biggest challenge upfront is my lacking of real estate knowledge, which could’ve helped when designing the choosing criteria and the property profile screen. And it’s a lean project, so I tackled this problem in a agile manner—I posted several questions on Quora and analyzed experts’ answers using affinity mapping. After the Quora research, I’m confident to work as a real estate agent and a mortgage broker.
This project is under instruction of my amazing mentor Thania Soetandar.
Clickable prototype: https://projects.invisionapp.com/share/TWJ2CA6PX59
What went well?
1. Time management
Skills: Time management, lean UX.
2. Designing the user flow
Skills: Information architecture, task analysis, information seeking theories (e.g. “berry-picking model”, “information scent”).
Process: Rapid prototyping, guerilla usability testing.
3. Information hierarchy
Skills: Information architecture, user stories, task analysis, wireframing.
Process: Design task flow for each of six user stories and then put them together; validate the flow in guerilla usability testing.
4. Designing search filter and sort
Skills: User interview, affinity mapping, prototyping
Process: Explore which criteria are important for users and use the insights to inform interface design.
5. Defining the brand message
Skills: Emotional design, storytelling, branding
Process: Define the message to convey (efficiency, reliability, organized) and use it to inform the color scheme, iconology and imagery.
What can be improved?
1. Color scheme
The choice of color scheme is good in general, but I’m not happy with the shade of blue I selected.
Solution: Practice my skills in colors and find better palettes for Ideal.
2. More user testing
After the first round of guerilla testing, I made many updates to the prototype, especially UI-oriented parts, such as fonts, colors, and visual elements such as cards and buttons. I need to validate how intuitive and useful they are to users.
Solution: Conduct more UI-oriented usability testing.
3. More engaging visual design
Some screens aren’t satisfying enough to me, because I can see there needs improving to make them more visual appealing.
Solution: Work on the screens and make them more visual engaging.
Check out the project portfolio: