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Increasing claimed homes on Realtor.com

An estimator design that seamlessly integrates call-to-action towards claiming homes.

View the final prototype here.

Role:

UX Research / Design

Date:

Aug 2019 - Sep 2019

PART I - BACKGROUND

How can RDC grow claimed homes to 10 million for FY2020?

For homeowners specifically, Realtor.com (RDC) wants to empower them to get the most from their home and partner with them through their home owning journey. On Realtor.com®, homeowners have the ability to claim and verify their own home. Once verified, homeowners have the opportunity to track and edit details about their off-market listings. There are approximately 80 million homes owned in the USA; currently RDC has 900K total claimed homes on their website, averaging approximately 65K claims per month. Most claims currently come from its off-market Property Detail Pages (PDP). 

 

There are many areas in RDC's sites and apps that currently aren’t using their full potential to get owners to claim homes. In this project, we are specifically tasked to increase claimed homes to 10 million for FY2020 as well as enhancing the emotional connection between RDC and the user in order to be a part of their "home-buying journey" and process. Design considerations: Although this project targets homeowners; home shoppers are still the number one target of the site. Our proposal should not take away from the home shopper experience, rather it should help create a loyalty loop for shoppers as they become owners and then possibly sellers & shoppers again. In this design, we were asked to create a web-based mobile application of RDC's website.

PART II - RESEARCH

Secondary & Primary Research

Within RDC, there are 4 prominent home-owner segments to keep in mind.

  • Decor Evangelists (24%) - Strongly motivated by showing off home and its upgrades; consistently work on home.

  • Value Watchers (18%) - Always stay on top of home value, very interested in own and neighborhood’s financial  information; prioritize home improvement projects that will improve the value of their home.

  • DIYers (23%) - Get excited about home projects but not as social; not as interested in following neighborhood updates. Motivated more by the joy of renovations than the impact on value, and prefer buying fixer upper homes.

  • Mandatory Fixers (12%) - Do not enjoy home improvement projects. Only make updates when things are broken or when need to sell house. Often prefer to hire professionals.

From this research, we found a key trait among each group to be some aspect of home improvement, whether it is a passion for it or a desire to ease the home improvement process.

Home-owner insights: 

  • Buying a home is the biggest investment.

  • Owners watch their home value closely; it is the #1 reason both owners & sellers visit their own home’s page on RDC. 

  • Values on real estate websites vary from each other making owners question accuracy. RDC prides its differentiation of offering the most accurate valuation data.

  • A home is always a work in progress and owners are constantly looking to either improve or maintain their home.

What we know about RDC's current user group

What we learned from our initial user testing and research

Testing the user's interaction with the current RDC mobile website:

We first interviewed several home-owners between the age of 25-60 to test out the current format of RDC's web-based mobile home page. We gave them the seemingly simple task of claiming your home and identified key pain points from their experience.

 

From this research, we found that claiming your home is an arduous task in itself. Many users were unable to find the button to claim your home; thus, we focused our design in simplifying and easing the process of claiming homes without pushing it into the user's face. Further, users did not have a purpose for claiming home other than being asked to do so. The main issue was the lack of awareness of how and why to claim a home with RDC, creating a disengaged and frustrated user who doesn't want to sign up for spam.

We also had our users test out the Zillow, RDC's main competitor. We noted the distinction between RDC and Zillow's design and how it makes the user feels. Most notably, users reported that Zillow's user interface is much more minimalistic, easy to navigate, uses more calming colors, and feels more intuitive.

Insights analysis

Pain point: "I don't understand the point of claiming my home." 

Opportunity: Explicitly state the benefits of claiming home.

 

Pain point: "I feel overwhelmed by my home page options."

Opportunity: Simplify home page and process of claiming. Make landing page brief.

Pain point: "I don't like how low my home value is."

Opportunity: Leverage accuracy of RDC's data by offering more enticing statistical insights (utilize higher prediction and regression analysis on how to improve it).

Pain point: "I wish that it was easier to improve my valuation."

Opportunity: Ease the process of refurbishing home to add value.

Pain point: "I don't feel a connection to RDC."

Opportunity: Build trust by establishing camaraderie and a sense of community.

PART III - IDEATION AND DESIGN

User Experience

User Persona

We created a user persona that visualized the ideal home-owner that would be browsing Realtor.com. We based this user off of the users we initially researched, finding that most people simply browse RDC out of curiosity on their home rather than for a specific purpose such as to buy or sell their home.

Journey Mapping

The journey map is meant to understand the home-owner more clearly by mapping out a customer’s journey in navigating the current RDC website and identifying the key issues that arise when using its interface. This focused on the current user flow of claiming homes. We referenced back to our journey map several times throughout our design process and ideation in order to build a solution accordingly without losing sight of its core intention.

We created a flow that considered how the interaction with the feature would look if the user clicked the Yes VS. No button. Ultimately, we want the user to claim their home. We blocked the ability to refurbish and add value unless the user creates an account and enters their address, thereby claiming their home.

User flow

We created a flow that considered how the interaction with the feature would look if the user clicked the Yes VS. No button. Ultimately, we want the user to claim their home. We blocked the ability to refurbish and add value unless the user creates an account and enters their address, thereby claiming their home.

Wireframing

PART IV - TESTING

Prototyping & User Testing

High-fidelity testing

Once this basic prototype was developed, the next step was to conduct user tests. We asked 5 different home-owners to test out the new flow with the goal of claiming their home.

Learning goals: The main purpose of usability test is to observe how the user interacts with the overall Bestimate feature, given the main goal of claiming a home. We also noted their likes and dislikes to find other aspects to improve.​

Findings:

  • Users were confused by the tabs and tended to click the Search bar before hitting the tab.

  • Users would mindlessly click through and did not read the Claim benefits.

  • Users were confused about the congratulatory message, "You're now a home-owner!" because they were already a home-owner.

Goals for iteration 2:

1.

  • Redesign the user flow of filter to search so that it becomes search to filter.

  • Illustrate the benefits so that they are clearly marked and difficult to click through.

  • Change the wording of the home-owner message.

Redesign decisions

Animate to search then filter

We stuck our Bestimate feature on the current RDC mobile layout, which uses the tabs, and didn't even consider changing their design altogether. Now that this issue was brought to our attention, we brainstormed ways to change the design from what RDC already has while still emphasizing the bright and eye-catching Bestimate feature. This was especially difficult because of the smart search feature, so we could not place buttons below. 

 

Ultimately, we decided to have an animation that seamlessly eases into the filters. In this way, it doesn't create an overt extra step for the user, but still clarifies that a filter option must be chosen before proceeding to the next step. We also decided not to make the Bestimate feature a different color or standout because changing the layout of just one made it seem like the user could choose between each button, when in reality their selection takes them to whichever page they chose.

Invite homeowner to RDC's community

The user liked the congratulatory page because of the animation, which they stated evoked a feeling of success and accomplishment. However, the juxtaposition with the message of "You're now a home-owner!" took away from the feeling of success and replaced it with confusion. Aren't I already a home-owner? Why are you telling me that I just became one? 

 

Ultimately, we decided to use "Welcome to the community!" as a way to both create an inviting atmosphere, retain the congratulatory feeling of accomplishment, and create a sense of "You're in, you're one of us" to unite the RDC community.

Illustrate why you should claim your home​

During the usability tests, most users would click through the buttons and thereby not bother reading the text. We strategically placed the benefits of claiming your home section right before the onboarding process and questions in order to keep the user engaged; however, nobody is reading through it which is making it appear as just another click they have to go through. In order to make a more interactive experience so that the user is fully engaged and aware of the benefits and feel a greater connection and motivation to stick with RDC, we have illustrated the benefits and simplified the text so that the user can easily navigate through it and move forward.

PART VII - REFLECTION

Key Takeaways

Communicate your intentions thoroughly

At certain points, everyone on the team was on a different page. We didn't understand each other's ideas and didn't clearly define our goals to accomplish, which would make for some long and unaccomplished meetings. Throughout the few weeks we spent working together, we understood each other more and more. But the most helpful communication tool was our sketchbook and the whiteboard. Once we sketched out exactly what we were thinking and could visually see what everyone was trying to say, the communication and design flowed much more seamlessly.

An initial setback was that we weren't user researching the right user. We would interview and user test our parents and peers, but they aren't in the right crowd to buy or sell homes, and also don't quite meet the age group that RDC is targeting. The most impactful user interviews we had were with older professionals such as our professors or older home-owners.

Learn from homeowner frustrations

 

 

Interested in working together?

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© 2020 by Rosie Maharjan.