UX Portfolio Pt.3 —Making sense out of any mess

Delparque Case Study

Joaquín Alverde
10 min readFeb 19, 2020

Overview

To develop outstanding products, you need a meaningful purpose to empower your team leaders and clear guidelines to enhance company processes.

I led the rebranding and creation of a design system in delparque to launch multiple websites that are used to improve sale strategies and brand positioning.

Role: UX Designer
Status: 7 Live Websites
Time: Two Years
Team: 2 Visual Designers, 2 Developers

I’ve been working in delparque for almost four years, one of the biggest Real Estate developers in Mexico City. I’m currently Head of UX, in charge of improving customer’s buying experience.

I’m impressed with how fast things are moving today. You need to adapt to the market’s speed and be prepared to ship products in no time. Before showing any wireframes or mockups of my work, I find it interesting to share the importance of spreading design culture between colleagues to achieve better results.

Let me tell you a little bit about the project that helped me fund the user experience team in the company.

Think BIG

Having a broad view perspective to solve problems, makes me think consciously about the purpose of things I’m designing.

Within a couple of months working in delparque, I realized that they barely existed on the web. Their websites were poorly designed, and almost every marketing effort was made through traditional media.

One of my first projects was the company’s CV, so I grabbed all the info and built an online portfolio using Squarespace. When it reached the directors, they couldn’t believe it. They told me they spent months on their previous website and thought that making a responsive website was too expensive. It was enough to convince them to let me invest more time into digital projects.

A big idea came to the table. Why don’t we rebrand the company before developing new websites? This will help us to reposition our brand with the projects coming on the pipeline, have a unified look, and let people know that we are now in the big leagues. It was a great chance to build a system that we could use for all our design needs.

Before putting my hands to work, one of the directors told me:

— Hey! Keep it simple. Imagine this.

“What if we could fit everything here.”

Simplicity is complexity resolved

Designing any kind of system takes a deep understanding of many variables. I refined my attention to detail by observing, listening and asking all kinds of questions to build my first design system.

When we think about space, it can be very complicated, and at the same time, too simple. Architecture has an immense influence on the emotional and psychological well-being of humans. It’s one of the few user experiences that can last for a lifetime. Imagine living uncomfortable, or working in a terrible workspace? I think we have a big commitment to society.

The reason I want to share with you the branding results is because it leads to a change of mindset. We needed to be more human-centered and focus on the experience of every product we designed, including internal processes, business, architecture, marketing, and customer relationships.

A seamless brand will help us enhance our communication, promote clarity, and deliver the correct message to our clients.

Logo transformation — Welcome to motion branding

Our purpose is to create spaces and experiences for people to enjoy & thrive

We want to be the best Real Estate experience

We want to build community

It’s all about you

delparque

This is a visual exercise I made to explain the brand message.

The result was a brand that will fit every aspect of our company with a strong human-centered approach. We were ready. to make our debut in the digital world.

Design with clarity

Not everything is pixels in design. Defining teams, tasks, and goals in a defined timeline, help everyone involved to deliver great results.

Before we started designing, we mapped a customer journey. This process helped us to understand the company’s experience status and other areas to improve our end-user interaction with the brand. We analyzed all the touchpoints from the first time a client hear from us until they end up living in one of our apartments or working in one of our offices.

The map gave us visibility to create a roadmap of upcoming projects. We saw an opportunity to develop other digital products to improve our customer experience. But first, we needed to launch our websites to generate brand awareness and let us build digital strategies to commercialize our buildings.

Having clear which teams were involved in each stage helped us to organize the meetings that will allow us to understand the characteristics of each project, also creating one of the first audiences to test our prototypes.

Real Estate in Mexico is a very competitive industry, there was a lot of pressure on this project. We were planning to launch eight sites in 6 months to meet our yearly goals. We couldn’t lose any time!

Keep it simple

When you have to involve the whole board to approve a big project, the best way is to keep things to its simplest expression. Seniors understand the complexity of the business, but they may haven’t thought about the simplest outcomes.

The main objective of launching multiple websites at the same time was to consolidate our brand. Keeping the idea of having an online portfolio, we’ll design a website for delparque and maintain separate domains for each project to develop further commercial strategies.

An important thing we achieved with the rebranding was classifying our projects into three main categories. Live (residential), Work(offices), and Shop(commercial), helping people to understand better what kind of buildings we were developing, and how they can associate them with day to day actions.

Sorting out the best solution to design something viable wasn’t the complicated part of this process. Try to agree with the whole board of project managers. That was complicated! Haha.

After a couple of brainstorming and live prototyping sessions, we came to our first wireframe. I was proud that, in the end, everyone agreed on three essential aspects, simplicity, easy navigation, and great visuals.

I know it doesn’t look very promising, but this was the result of narrowing many perspectives to their simplest expression.

delparque_website_v1

Maintain consistency

Consistency eliminates confusion and saves money and time. We considered visual, functional and communication standards to help our users associate our different products with the same brand.

The content of every project was slightly different due to its nature, but we tried to maintain consistency with visuals and navigation. We designed a template for each category, so if we wanted to add more projects in the future, it would be easy to launch a new site.

Designing for different devices gives you a lot of perspective on how you need to think about the content, visuals, and interactions. We made every design on desktop and mobile to explain the importance of navigation details to the web development agencies we were going to hire.

Be precise

Exploring ways of being closer to the final result saved us a lot of time with developers. We only had to focus on finding the one who can code our designs.

We wanted to build a delightful product, so we went deeper into details that will help users understand the simplicity of our design. I learned to use Principle to transmit our intentions better of the components we designed.

We even compile engaging animations and page behaviors we found on the internet to make a list of examples we want developers to implement in some sections of our sites. We were thinking of every possible detail to complement our design.

This is one of the most beautiful websites we find for inspiration at the time.

Using white space and seamless animations may look a simple result when done right. But it’s a tedious work of communication between designers and developers.

Launch. Test. Coffee. Repeat.

Before going live I encouraged my team to be careful about listening to all kinds of critiques. If we learn to categorize and prioritize what people say about our website, we are going to develop better products next time.

We end up launching seven websites in 8 months. Sincerely, the results were not what we expected. It turned out to be complicated, finding a competent agency to develop our websites. Even though we shared our design guidelines and had weekly meetings for each project, the developers couldn’t achieve the desired results. We spent a lot of time-solving minimal problems of visuals, and couldn’t refine the UX problems discovered on the early prototypes.

We didn’t end up with the perfect websites, but we definitely built a starting point. The marketing team was ready to launch our first social media campaigns to generate leads, and we were prepared to analyze the behavior to plan future improvements.

Seeing failure as a way of making better products, led our team to a culture of innovation. We started looking for better processes to build our websites. We started testing our mockups on early stages and producing high fidelity prototypes before reaching any web development agency.

This is the list of the websites that are now online. You can see the ones that are still in the first version and others that have been evolving to meet specific goals focused on business results.

Company
delparque — Version I

Live (Residential Buildings)
Agwa Bosques — Version I
Up Santa Fe — Version II
Reserva de los Jinetes — Version I
University Tower — Version III

Work (Corporate Buildings)
Empresalia — Version II
Work Lomas — Version II

Reflections

  • Before designing something functional and beautiful, understand your company’s business goals. Sometimes we may lose into the amazing process of creating a product, but it’s crucial to have a broader view of how the company is growing and receiving money. I learned that you can also achieve better results by helping other areas building tools to be more efficient, and spotting opportunities in your customer journey.
  • One of the most important things that I’ve learned in delparque is the value design can have in business results. It happened to me to be continuously involved in more meetings to understand complex problems and build presentations that helped close big deals. They call that “making it beautiful,” but we all know it was “understanding the problem to deliver a great solution.” I love solving problems.
  • Building a team it’s tough. There are a lot of doubts that cross your mind before making any decision to hire someone. But talented people have something special that always make a connection. You may be scared sometimes to be left behind. But the truth is that encouraging talent through great leadership will teach you more than trying to be the best in the room.
  • Having a design methodology is just the beginning. Consistency, reflectiveness, critical thinking, communication, and practice are habits that will lead you to deliver outstanding products.
  • Should designers code or developers design? I don’t have the answer yet. But I’m sure I’ll reinforce my knowledge to communicate better my ideas with people that will help me to achieve the desired results.
  • It happened that every agency we tried to hire told us that they haven’t heard anything about XD, Invision, and other tools we were working with. They were still developing with pdfs, images, and photoshop files. I wasn’t an expert on the area, but clearly, there were a lot of tools that offered more efficient results than traditional methods. At least in Mexico, I think that industries try to stay with the software they feel safe. I want to encourage people to update your software, knowledge, design tools, methodologies, and even workspace for you to thrive.

You will not always find the perfect job, but you can design it. I didn’t knew anything about real estate when I stepped to my first interview, but I clearly knew about design methodologies, loved solving problems and creating outstanding products. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Always trust your skills and learn to communicate effectively with all your coworkers. You’ll find value listening to what the can share with you.

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