OVERVIEW
THE PROBLEM
Homebuyer
• Finding a home is a cumbersome process with many moving parts.
• Identifying a realtor who knows their specific market and understands the user’s needs.
• There is a lack of unified tools which creates a disjointed experience for homebuyers who tend to bounce from platform to platform.
Realtor
Locating/closing leads 
THE GOAL
• Connect Relators and homebuyers.
• Make the home buying process easier.
• Foster lasting relationships between Real
Estate Agents and homebuyers that reach
beyond the first purchase (forever customers)
THE VISION
To create a real estate app that focuses on the relationship between the Realtor and homebuyer. Think of Match or Tinder for the home industry.
Team
Setria James
Jane Cho
Javier Laredo
My Role
UX/UI Designer
UX Researcher
Tools
Mural
Slack
Adobe XD
Adobe Illustrator
Adobe Photoshop
Duration
Overall: 4+ months
Research: 4+ weeks
Design: 4+ weeks
Testing & Iterations: 4+ weeks
RESEARCH
LEAN CANVAS
At the start of the project, we assembled the stakeholders to complete the Lean Canvas to look at the many different perspectives around Igloo. The Lean Canvas provides initial alignment for the Igloo app, which the stakeholders and we revisited and refined throughout the project.
Key Findings from the Lean Canvas:
• Three main opportunities for our app were to do the following: 
   1. Create a unified real estate tool for homebuyers, sellers and agents.
   2.  Connect home buyers with real estate professionals.  
   3. Bring clarity to the home buying process for first time homebuyers. 
• Our target users would include homebuyers, home sellers, and Realtors.  
• Potential revenue streams were to include monthly membership/subscription fees for realtors and advertisement fees for industry vendors.

Lean Canvas

FEATURE BASED COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS
We researched the features that competitors are offering and gaps within their current offerings. We needed to do the following to build a successful Competitive Analysis:
• Meet with stakeholders to outline plan.
• Stakeholders downloaded, tested, and provided feedback one their experiences.
• Features on Real Estate apps and Dating apps were compared and contrasted to address most, if not all, of the gaps.
Positive Findings from Competitors:
• Competitors offered a geocentric find your agent systems. 
• Competitors offered a search functionality with filter options. 
• Most competitors offered a feed with relevant updates. 
• ​​​​​​​Most competitors offered Relator profiles.  
Gaps from Competitors:
• With most competitors, there was not a way to save agents. 
• There was not a way to visit property listings via the Realtor profile with most competitors. 
• There was not a way to direct message with Realtors on all but one of the apps. 
• No one app maintained all of the features the users were needing. 

Feature Based Competitive Analysis

EMPATHY MAP
As a team, we built an Empathy Map with the Igloo stakeholders to form a deeper understanding of a buyer and Realtors. 
After gathering the initial thoughts of the stakeholders, we facilitated a discussion to better understand homebuyers buyers and Realtors into themes using an Affinity Diagram. 
Affinity Diagram of Primary User 
The Affinity Diagram allowed the stakeholders and the team to confirm our theory about the need for a unified realty tool for homebuyers, sellers and Realtors to use. 
Key Findings from the Affinity Map:
• Homebuyer users want a clear understanding of the home buying process and procedures. 
• Homebuyer users need to be able to locate Realtors who understand their prospective region(s).
• Realtor users need an effective way to reach out to prospect and past customers. 
• Realtor users need aa single solution to engage with their clients and organize paperwork.  

Empathy Map

USER INTERVIEWS
We performed user interviews to understand the wants and needs of Igloo users. As a User Researcher, we performed the following activities:
We wrote a script for interviewing.
We interviewed homebuyers in different states of the homebuying process (first and second-time home buyers and future homebuyers) along with real estate agents. 
We synthesized the findings to be used to create a research-based persona.
Key Findings from User Interviews:
• We needed to explain the importance of using a Realtor vs finding properties as an individuals. 
• We discovered the need to include more homebuyer details on homebuyer profiles in order to make the opportunity seem legitimately warm to Realtors. 
• We synthesized the messaging process to make it clearer for users. 
• We reorganized the Realtor profile and included more background information that users wanted to know about potential Real estate agents. ​​​​​​​
• We synthesized the final walkthrough scheduling process. ​​​​​​​
USER PERSONAS
After completing the user interviews, we built User Personas to maintain the focus for who we were creating the app for. The team focused on our homebuyer persona. Meet Cheyenne Smith our first time homebuyer. ​​​​​​​
The Cheyenne user persona reflects the level of education and experience that typical first time homebuyers have with the home buying process.  ​​​​​​​
DESIGN
After completing our research, we began the design process keeping in mind the insights we developed through the process.
EPICS AND USER STORIES
After completing the research, we wrote epics and user stories to shape the direction of the product and helped to identify what the user's needs were. Twelve primary themes emerged:
• Login & Authenticate
• Profile Set-up
• Find a Realtor
• Scheduling
• Realtor Management
• Document Management 
• Selling Process
• Search
• Filter
• Notifications 
• Safety
• Communication
Epic 1: Login & Authenticate
As a Realtor, I need to access a secure platform for my interactions with clients.
As a homebuyer, I need to access a secure platform for my interactions with potential Realtors.
 
Epic 2: Profile Set 
As a homebuyer, I need to create a profile to help me connect with Realtors. 
As a Realtor, I need to create a profile to match with prospect homebuyers. 
Epic 3: Find a Realtor
As a homebuyer, I need to save agents as favorites so that I can reference their information at a later date. 
As a homebuyer, I need to be able to share Realtor's profiles with other in order to send recommendations.
 
Epic 4: Scheduling
As a Realtor, I need to be able to schedule meetings/calls with clients. 
As a Realtor, I need got be able to schedule unperson or virtual walkthroughs. 
As a Realtor, I need to be able to view my schedule and show availability to my potential clients. 
Epic 5: Realtor Management 
As a homebuyer, I need to access a news feed so that I can stay aware of local industry changes that may affect my process. 
Epic 6: Document Mangement
As a homebuyer I need to consolidate my paperwork in one place so that I can easily reference it. 
As a homebuyer, I need to be able to sign documents so that I can approve agreements. 
Epic 7: Selling Process
As a Realtor, I need to be able to feature available listings on my proffer to share with clients. 
As a Realtor, I need to be able to send recommend vendor contact information to clients for the best level of service. 
Epic 8: Search
As a homebuyer, I need to be able to find current listings. 
As a homebuyer, I need to be able to search for Realtor. 
Epic 9: Filter
As a homebuyer, I need to be able to archive Realtor profiles so I can narrow down my list. 
As a homebuyer, I need to be able to filter searches for property types. 
Epic 10: Notifications
As a homebuyer, I need to receive timely notifications to keep the homebuying process moving forward as swiftly as possible. 
As a Realtor, I need to receive notifications when inquires come in regarding properties or working together.
 
Epic 11: Safety
As a homebuyer, I need to be able to prevent any harassment or online stalker.
As a Realtor, I need to be able to prevent any harassments or online stalking.
 
Epic 12: Communication
As a homebuyer, I need to DM Realtors, so I can understand if they are a good fit. 
As a Realtor, I need to be able to host video calls with clients to create personal relationships with them. 
As a Realtor, I need to be able to share documents with clients to keep them informed.

Epics Board

USER WORKFLOWS
To begin designing, we created a user flow for first time users of Igloo to provide the path in which the users will take as they accomplish their tasks. As the UX team on this project, we crafted a user workflow with the stakeholders to:
• Explore possibilities and processes without going into visual design.
• Optimize the workflow, identify gaps, and find new opportunities.
• Determine the user interface based upon the final workflow.
The original workflow included four main user flows that we narrowed down to two in order to focus on the homebuyer as a new user and an existing user. 
User Workflow 1: First-time User, Buying a Home
The First-time User, buying a home workflow has a slightly different workflows as they would be prompted set up the profile, take the quiz and build out their profile. 
User Workflow 2: Existing User Buying or Selling a Home
The existing user buying or selling a home, would bypass the profile set up and the quiz as their experience would already be crafted by their initial interaction with the app. They would likely go strait to the Realtor or Property search pages or their Profile page.
UX SKETCHING
With the workflows optimized, we created the initial sketches for the login and quiz screens. All of the screens were refined, reviewed, and revised with the product stakeholders. The focus here is on the the login process and quiz section of Igloo.


Login Initial Sketches

Quiz Initial Sketches

Review of Workflow Key Findings:
• Based on their reason for visiting the app whether to buy/rent or sell/rent specific screens would be provided, the team was able to use the updated workflow to create revised sketches.​​​​​​​
Key Findings
• We chose to include confirmation screens to help users walk through the app with confidence. 
• We implemented step flow indicators to also help enhance user's experience in the the app.
• We added micro and macro-copy content to the screens to further build out the app. 
REVIEW OF THE WORKFLOWS AND SKETCHES
We reviewed the workflow with the key stakeholders. After collaborating and receiving feedback, we made some changes.

Login Revised Sketches

Quiz Revised Sketches

Review of Sketches Key Findings:
Over many iterations, we decided to update the workflow and sketches once more to reflect an easier pathway for new users vs existing users as well real estate professionals.
WIREFRAMES (LOW FIDELITY)
After completing the UX sketches, our team created low fidelity wireframes. As UX Designers, we used low fidelity wireframes to quickly collaborate with my stakeholders to maintain alignment and receive feedback.
Key Findings:
• Wireframes make it easy to determine gaps without committing to a full design.
• Wireframes make it easy to explore different opportunities.
• We found that our design was missing screens based on our various users groups. So we had to make new iterations to the workflows, sketches, and wireframes to architect their experience. 

Login Revised Wireframes

Quiz Revised Wireframes

BRANDING AND STYLE
With the app name of Igloo and influence of the arctic environment, we developed the tagline "A clear route home with the help of your favorite agent." While working with stakeholders, we also developed the moldboard to establish the branding elements and style for the product. 

Igloo Branding

Key Branding Decisions:
Our brand personality needed to reflect transparency, trust and positivity. Certain colors evoke different emotions, such as blue (representing trust) and orange (representing optimism and energy). The typography we chose was modern, clear, and simple.
PROTOTYPE​​​​​​​
After designing the experience, I created an interactive prototype to visualize the experience for users and stakeholders.
CLICKABLE PROTOTYPE
I created an interactive prototype in Adobe Xd using the feedback from UX sketching and the wireframes from the users and stakeholders. After many iterations, we arrived at our prototype.

Login Revised Prototype

Quiz Revised Prototype

USABILITY TESTING
After creating a clickable prototype, we validated the product design with users and made iterations.
PLANNING THE USABILITY TEST
Prototype validation is key to successfully testing your business solution. Early validation helps to ensure the prototype is on track, user focused, and provides business value.
USABILITY TEST FINDINGS: 
Overall, the team had a positive and insightful experience with the user testing. We conducted a survey with a Likert scale to indicate the ease of navigation for each task. Though the interviewees had 3 set task to perform, we walked them through the entire app and received vital feedback. This process aided in the identification of the key issues with the current prototype, which we were able to quickly address.
Key Usability Findings:
• Users did not understand how to complete the task of messaging a Realtor and found the layout confusing. 
• Users did not understand that the app was designed to encourage them to find a Realtor before finding properties. 
• Continue refining the quiz, profiles, scheduling features, and more based on feedback.
UPDATES TO THE PROTOTYPE
Based upon our usability testing, we immediately updated the prototype and validated the new designs with additional users and received positive feedback. See the video below for the Igloo walkthrough!
App Walkthrough 
As this is a prototype, not all features of Igloo have been fully developed and tested.
NEXT STEPS
The Igloo app received overwhelming positive feedback from users and stakeholders after the last round of validation and iteration. The current design still needs some improvements before being implemented. One of the main features that was highly requested is the AR feature to visualize walkthroughs for out of state buyers (sight-unseen).​​​​​​​
Immediate Next Steps
• Interview additional homebuyers and Realtors to receive feedback about the design.
• Continue to test for feedback and iterate upon the design.
Learnings
We gained a tremendous amount of knowledge throughout the entire creation of the Igloo app, and the one fact that resonates with me the most is the need to interview a wide range of users. The more feedback the better as it gives experience architects a full range of empathy and understanding of the users needs. Also, research can be conducted at all stages of the process, and we would like to continue on learning more about this broad user group. 
Thank you for reading our case study!
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