HomeRenter — Calling all Landlords to list!

HomeRenter offers landlords and tenants the same service as traditional estate agencies, but their key difference is that they are significantly cheaper.

This project was in collaboration with HomeRenter our client, I worked in a group consisting of three UX Designers — we worked closely together and all had input in all areas of the actual UX Design Process during this two week sprint.

When the HomeRenter team approached us and told us their problem and pain point, we were slightly overwhelmed, but ready to undertake this task of increasing conversion of signups from landlords.

The idea being — the more landlords who list their properties, the more tenants, that will also use the site. Therefore our primary persona and focus on this project were landlords.

We used the Double Diamond approach, a well-known UX Design process.

Double Diamond UX Process
  1. Discover — exploration, research, and gathering of insights.
    2. Define — we identify the key problem and area to focus on, then develop a clear design objective.
    3. Develop — potential solutions are built to prototype, tested, refined and tested again.
    4. Deliver — the creation of the final hi-fidelity prototype of our design solution.

One of the key problems that we identified from initial research is the conversion rate; we know that landlords are visiting the site, but not deciding to start listing their property. The listing process, 80% of landlords start the property creation flow for their listing but do not complete it. Finally, brand awareness; landlords are visiting the site, but are not clear about what HomeRenter is and the service they offer. Therefore our objective is to

Increase the number of landlords publishing their properties

Clearly convey the services that are offered for Landlords

We wanted to reach landlords, we interviewed 11 in total and this was a mixture of current HomeRenter users, and also existing private landlords. We really wanted to get into their minds, find out their pain points and get a real general feel for the most important things they want and need when it comes to a time when they have a property available for listing.

We affinity mapped out all of the findings and were able to consolidate this feedback and findings into three main points:

Clarity of service offering and its benefits is necessary

Landlords need transparency of information in order to build trust

Finding good tenants is their key need for peach of mind.

Experience Map of Landlords

We also did an experience map to really try and delve into where their pain points could lie. This really allowed us to put ourselves into the shoes of landlords.

We also did some usability testing on the current site and creation flow, we observed 16 people and noted down their thoughts and questions:

What is the service and cost?

What is a HomeViewer?

Where am I and how many more steps?

As you can there was confusion about the service offering, some terms such as HomeViewer and KeyHolder which are specific terms that one needs to learn about, and also issues around navigation and the time it takes to complete a listing process.

In addition to the other tests and research, we did some analysis on the time it takes to start, register and list a property on some competitor sites, we felt it was important to do this because it allowed us to know from a landlords perspective how long it generally takes to complete this task, and if HomeRenter goes above that average time, then its understandable why the process would feel like a long one.

So the results show where HomeRenter lies in the grid, and while we know that Upad takes longer than HomeRenter, they are far more established, and landlords are willing to spend the extra time because it is a recognised and well-known company.

To summarise the research stage of our double diamond process; the listing process feels confusing and long, the service offering and pricing structure is unclear and we also now understand the importance of clear information above the fold in order to draw in the attention of the landlord. There are all of the key things a landlord needs in order to trust and use an online estate agent as opposed to a traditional high street one.

Now that we know our key problem and area of focus, we would like to remind ourselves who we are solving this problem for and what are their needs and wants. We developed our primary persona, our primary persona represents a typical landlord and HomeRenter user, if we can build a problem that solves their needs, then we are solving the needs for multiple landlords all over the country, so please meet Dominic.

Dominic would say: “When I rent out my property, I want to find the right tenants so that I can have peace of mind.”

We created an outcome statement, just to have an idea of our desired outcome when working on solutions for this problem.

Outcome statement for Dominic

1. Situation: Dominic has a property and he would like a tenant as soon as possible.

2. Problem: He feels : ‘There’s so many websites, which one do I choose?’

3. Solution: Dominic finds HomeRenter — clear and easy to use and he is able to list his property in less than 10 mins

4. Outcome: Dominic is happy he listed so easily and was able to find a tenant quickly with HomeRenter.

We really wanted to explore and think about possible solutions of how we could really overcome this problem and find a potential solution, so we met with the HomeRenter Team and conducted a design studio. The main aim was to really explore possible design solutions before building an initial prototype.

My team and the HomeRenter team in a design studio together.

We found this session to be incredibly productive, it allowed us to communicate ideas more effectively with images and to also get an idea of the scope of what is possible whilst including the ideas from the HomeRenter team and ourselves combined.

We took all of these possible solutions and came up with one prototype solution for both the homepage of the website and also of the landlord landing page.

Ideation and possible solutions, we also dotted features which we all liked

Once we were at this stage, we knew it was time to start building, and testing, thus moving into the development stage of the double diamond approach.

Based on everything we know so far about HomeRenter, our landlords that we interviewed, the usability testing we conducted and the design studio, we defined three design principles to consider at all stages of the design moving forward, in order to ensure consistency and focus on the problem we are trying to solve.

Consistently demonstrate the HomeRenter sense of identity to inspire trust

Website should have easy and effective processes to allow for an efficient experience

Communicate the clear HomeRenter ethos at all times

While working on earlier versions of the wireframes, there are some key changes we made,

Key information first — during sign up, we now ask for the phone number which would be useful later for the business. There is also no need to verify your email to set up an account, effectively asking you to leave the site, then come back, instead of this way, you are taken straight to listing, and you are asked for your verification before the listing goes live.

If they drop off, HomeRenter has their email, phone and it saves their progress, making it much easier for them to come back and complete at a later date. With email and or phone reminders.

An early Save & Continue is prominent — offers reassurance to Dominic that he is saving his progress at every step of the way.

The Progress bar matches the number of pages that Dominic needs to complete and it is very clear at what stage of the process he is at.

We made numerous changes and iterations during the ‘develop’ stage, taking into account feedback in order to organise areas that were a priority to change and test again.

Affinity Mapping our feedback

Although mobile wasn’t our priority we developed a couple of screens, to show how the navigation changes, helping landlords even on their mobile devices to still access their dashboard and have easier navigation options. We added a menu to aid navigation and also to match the desktop design.

We also developed a Hi fidelity prototype of the HomeRenter homepage, landlord landing page, the property creation flow and also made some changes to the landlord dashboard.

Homepage for the new proposed design

You can view the HomeRenter Desktop Prototype by clicking on the link:

Final Outcome

In summary, we do believe we have achieved great results on this project. We also believe that we can also achieve an increase in the number of published property listings if we implement these proposed steps.

If we had more time to work on this project, we would look at the HomeRenter experience for all the personas. We addressed solely the landlord this time, but there’s also the Tenant, HomeViewer and Service providers that could have an improved usability on the website. We would also address the navigation to make it more clear, as a lot of information is currently hidden within collapsed menus. Finally, we would look at full-service emails, reminding landlords to complete their listing, verify their accounts or verify certain ID documents.

Happy Dominic!

Thank you for taking the time to read this article.

To find out more about the UX Designers that I worked with, follow the below links to their Medium profiles!

Update: Since completing this project, HomeRenter has informed us that they are very happy with our work, and are already starting to implement the proposed changes, which will go live on their actual website from January 2019.

NYC Design

A publication for designers in New York and followers all around the world. Design thinking is what makes us write here on Medium to share with the designers of the world.

Chris Davies-Anipole

Written by

UX Researcher, Life Coach, Traveller.

NYC Design

A publication for designers in New York and followers all around the world. Design thinking is what makes us write here on Medium to share with the designers of the world.

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