UX Case Study: Homads Realtor Experience
Connecting experienced, trustworthy realtors with rental clients who have a goal of purchasing a home.
Homads is a marketplace for short term rentals (1–3 months) and it aims to build relationships with people the moment they relocate to the city to their long term housing decisions. The company has been redesigning its “homeowner” and “renter” experience. I was tasked to design a new feature for “realtors” aiming to connect them with renter clients. I worked with two other UX designers.
Realtors need a way to connect with clients that are financially capable and serious about purchasing a home.
Homads needs a way to connect experienced, trustworthy realtors who possess comprehensive knowledge about the city they live in, with rental clients that have the financial capability and goal of purchasing a home.
We believe that by creating a new feature on the Homads website where realtors can present their skills, experience, and references in a digestible fashion; Homads can introduce qualified renters to the expert agents that will help them find their dream home.
This was a 3 months project that was divided into two design phases. During the first phase we conducted research to define the problem and the solution for on-boarding process. After ideation we designed the initial mid-fi prototype, tested with realtors, iterated and produced comps. Second phase focused on designing the realtor profile on Homads.
We applied the same process for each design phase. This case study explains on-boarding process design.
UX/UI Designer, User Researcher
Balsamiq (Wireframing), Sketch (Comps), InVision (Prototype), Xtensio (Competitive Analysis), Paper, Pen (Sketching)
I started with the domain research to understand the mid-term rental market. I analysed online market places for rentals to see if there are any companies that provide assistance to renters who are interested in buying a home. I identified “hotpads” as a non-direct competitor, as it provides a way to renters to connects with realtors on its site and by directing them to parent company site, zillow.com.
Our focus was on-boarding of realtors so I compared listing, sign up, login and profile pages of major online real estate companies. Although these companies are market leaders in providing leads I found that there is no way to distinguish quality leads on their platforms. Also, anyone can create a realtor profile without providing business specific information.
We agreed that Homads should differentiate from Realtor.com and Zillow.com in a way that it screens real estate agents before on-boarding.
I used the discussion guide to conduct two interviews with realtors who have been in business over 10 years in Austin, TX.
Affinity map technique is used to understand the relationship between our findings and define key takeaways from all seven interviews.
We found that realtors look for clients who are financially capable, decisive and have budget that matches the market. They don’t trust third party lead services and believe that referral business is far superior than any source. Also, they mentioned “having trust between them and the client is essential for their business”.
Narrowing down our findings from user interviews we created a persona, Mike Mayer. We wanted him to represent the user, who is an experienced real estate brokers that has been working and living in Austin for over 10 years.
Realtors emphasised the importance of “trust” between the client and the agent in the interviews and they mentioned that it is hard to create trust, so there needs to be some level of trust upon introduction. Therefore, we agreed on adding an initial approval process for realtors after sign up, which will allow Homads to screen and choose partners who are experienced and trustworthy brokers and agents.
After Homads approves the realtor’s application to become a partner, realtor will be able to create a profile and control how they will be publicly portrayed on Homads.
Separating application process from creating a profile, we did two rapid sketching sessions. We agreed on sign up and main form fields, required information for the application process and the layout of the profile page.
Homads design team shared some screens of the “homeowner” redesign. We decided to start with creating a template on Balsamiq, incorporating some design elements from the new design to build visual consistency. We each worked independently and combined our wireframes to produce a clickable prototype for the new user and approved user flows. I produced wireframes for “Sign Up”, “Login” and “Application Process”.
- While the application process to become a Homads partner adds value to the service, it increases the time and the effort realtors need to put in to create a profile. It was challenging to build an online application process that would collect the necessary information about the realtor and its business in a few steps.
- Determining the required information and choosing right titles for form fields were important to create a process that meets the expectations of realtors. It was a challenge for us, so I tried to learn as much about the industry as possible from online resources and from my team mates who have previous experience in the real estate industry.
- The client wants the profile to reflect realtor’s background, experience and personality. It was a challenge to ask for personal information within a professional setting.
We tested the initial prototype with both real estate agents and professionals working in other fields. I conducted 2 and as a team we conducted 4 usability tests.
I created a rainbow chart to identify the repeated observations from tests. Key findings were:
- License Number was suggested to be included in sign up to identify realtors.
- They couldn’t understand what type of “references” were required in the application.
- Application process was found straightforward. The length was mentioned as fine.
- They said that providing certain personal interests in a profile could create preconceived judgment among buyers.
- Realtor dashboard functionality was not clear.
Sign Up: We consulted some realtors in our network about how easy it would be to provide “license number” and how they feel about sharing that information to create an account. They said that they know their license number by heart and it would be fine provide it at sign up. Therefore, we included a field for “License Number” in addition to “confirm password”.
Application Process / References: We asked to provide “references” in the second step of the application and added a field to pick the relationship of the reference from the dropdown menu. Users got confused about what type of reference are required. Therefore, we renamed it as “Client References”.
Create a Homads Realtor Profile / Personal Information: We asked for personal information such as; favorite book, movie, food, musician for the realtor profile. However, realtors thought some of the personal interests could cause preconceived judgement, and suggested these information to be optional. Therefore, we condensed the section including short bio and an inspirational quote.
Style guide provided by Homads design team was used to produce comps.
What We Achieved
For Realtors: A digital platform which lets them control how they are portrayed as a realtor and provides them with a way to connect with clients who are financially capable and serious about purchasing a home.
For Homads: A new feature which helps Homads to find experienced, trustworthy realtor partners who possess comprehensive knowledge about the city they live and connect them to its renter clients.
Please note that interactive InVision prototype at here is the final design of on-boarding process and Homads realtor profile after the second phase of the project. So you may notice some minor changes on some screens.
We revised the design of on-boarding process according to the final design of Homads realtor profile (where “Dashboard” is included in profile). We tested the hi-fi prototype using usertesting.com, delivered the design to the client following the final round of iterations.
Thanks for reading! :) If you want to collaborate, talk about product design, or just say hello, please shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect on Linkedin.