Case Study

Introducing The New Aalto

Our (completely redesigned) latest release

We just launched a complete redesign of the Aalto product. Here’s an overview of the new experience and the thinking behind the changes and additions.


The mission of Aalto is to democratize real estate. We are designing a future where buyers and sellers can transact directly, without the challenges of the traditional process. Our digital-first experience gives consumers more control and saves them money.

We launched the first version of the marketplace about a year ago. Our guiding principle was direct. We gave people more power over the transaction by allowing them to communicate and interact directly, without needing to go through a traditional agent.

After months of analyzing data, watching people use the product, and talking to buyers and sellers, we saw a number of opportunities to improve the experience and better serve our customers.

Customer Needs

We have to meet (and balance) the needs of both buyers and sellers on our network. For this latest release, we focused on nailing the following jobs-to-be-done:


  1. Help me find and evaluate homes for sale
  2. Make it transparent and simple for me to purchase a home


  1. Help me determine if I can meet my selling goals
  2. Sell my home for top dollar and minimal stress

Problems to Solve

With these needs and our guiding principle in mind, we did research and identified the following problems to solve:

  • Improve home discovery. Buyers couldn’t easily find homes and didn’t realize how many exclusive homes were available on Aalto. Our feed-only experience wasn’t enough.
  • Improve messaging. Our email-based messaging between buyers and sellers wasn’t working. Buyers wanted easier ways to message sellers and wanted to receive more responses back. Sellers said they felt overwhelmed with emails from potential buyers and often lost track of messages.
  • Show more home info. Buyers needed more information about houses to evaluate whether they met their criteria.
  • Provide sale guidance. Sellers wanted to know how to generate more interest from buyers, how much to price their home, and how they should time their sale.

Key Features

The entire experience was redesigned and rebuilt, down to the information architecture and global navigation. Here are some of the big new features we created:

Map-based Discovery

Buyers needed a better way to find homes. So we added a couple new additions:

  • Map-based search with robust filtering options
  • An entirely new recommendation system that surfaces new homes for sale within their specific criteria

In-product Messaging

Our guiding principle of direct relied on the ability for buyers and sellers to easily communicate with each other. But our first version of messaging wasn’t working, so we created an entirely new set of features:

  • In-product messaging as a primary function of the app
  • Integrated messaging modules throughout the experience
  • Easy, one-tap methods for common requests like more photos or tour scheduling

Better Home Profile Pages

Buyers wanted more information about homes for sale. So we added a couple of new features to provide more content:

  • Modules about local school ratings, comparable home sale prices, and contextual information about market conditions
  • Prompts for sellers to add more information to their profiles

Seller Insights

Sellers wanted more guidance on their sale, so we designed them a dashboard that provided a variety of useful information and controls:

  • Real data about buyer interest on Aalto, with recommendations about how to generate more interest
  • Insights from 3rd party data feeds about historical sale trends relevant to their home
  • Powerful price setting controls that give guidance on demand implications of various home price ranges

Next Up

In addition to continued iterations on the new product, we plan to tackle a few big design efforts in the near term:

  • Crafting the end-to-end customer journey across all touch points involved in the transaction
  • Updating and building out our design system
  • Designing our first native mobile app

We’re going to need help with all this formative, impactful work. If you’re curious about joining the design team, check our the careers page. Yes, we are hiring.

More Info on Aalto Design

We have a 5 part series covering all the general info about the team, mission, and product:

All About Aalto Design is our Medium publication. There you will find the latest updates and case studies from across the team. shows all our open roles. We are hiring, so take a look and tell your friends.



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