norban, selling homes with a service people can love and trust

UX of the mobile application and its back-office system for the Swedish real-estate start-up norban.

Mentor: Ana Barbosa, Senior User Experience Designer; Context: Internship at ābove agency, read more at ābove's website.

My role

I started working on this project after the early research part was over. For the next research part, which focused on the real estate agents and the following design process, I mainly supported the senior user experience designer. I was also given responsibility for the UX of the back office system. In doing so, my experience in coding stood me in good stead when communicating with the development team.

How might we design a trusting, stress-free and overall better experience for everyone involved in the home selling process?

Challenge
Facing a criticized industry

There's a lot of distrust in the real-estate industry these days. Hence, we wondered how to create an experience that is less reliant on the realtor and utilize technology to streamline the entire home selling experience for all parties involved.

Solution
Aiming for radical transparency and collaboration

We have developed a solution that guides sellers step by step through the home selling process, giving them more responsibility and at the same time more say. On both sides, the user and the realtor can follow every action of the process in real time.

A wizard to simply set up a home profile

A wizard navigates the seller through the home profile creation process in simple steps.

Division and introduction into process phases

The process is divided into phases that represent major milestones. Upon entering each phase, the user is given a brief introduction to the tasks involved in that phase.

Guidance and transparency throughout the entire process

As sellers are guided step by step through the selling process, while they are kept informed in real time about the latest happenings. In fact, sellers are enabled to be fully flexible and choose whenever and how they wish to proceed with the process.

Back-office Infrastructure
Monitoring and executing tasks and communication

The back-office system enables the realtors to upload images or documents, send notifications, unlock next steps, or upload other information that is then visible to the seller in the app. By giving the seller as much flexibility as possible, realtors must be able to change, delete, and edit previous submissions.

The Process of designing for norban


Exploring opportunities: How might we ...

• create and end-to-end experience that engages sellers and earns their trust?
• make selling homes flexible?
• create a collaborative experience for both the seller and the realtor?

User journeys

To discover and understand pain points in the current home selling process, we interviewed industry experts and target users and created user journeys together with them. By the time I started working on the project, I was participating solely in the research regarding industry experts.

Aligning user insights with business goals

After the research, we aligned their needs with norbans' business goals. We aimed to develop a common understanding and achieve consensus. Based on the results, we structured the sales process and created navigation architectures, wireframes and lo-fi prototypes.

Guiding principles

We had some guiding principles that we developed through our user insights and business goals.

Instructive
We wanted to guide sellers through the entire home selling process to make sure they understand every (upcoming) step. In doing so, we want to prevent the user from being overwhelmed by the process.

Flexible
Selling a home is not a time-bound process. Realtors pointed out that flexibility is one of the most key drivers. To make sure we considered flexibility in the design, we delved deeper into the process of selling a home and its user scenarios.

Transparent
With the real-estate industry under heavy criticism, we learned that potential sellers need to be assured that norban is a trustworthy and reliable service. We wanted to do this by making it easy to contact the designated realtor and keep sellers informed of every past, present, and upcoming step of the process.

Collaborative
The sales process should be a collaborative interplay. The seller plans their steps themselves at their own pace and fills out the required forms in the app. Meanwhile, norban should keep track of upcoming deadlines and tasks.

Turning broad concepts to UX solutions

We developed a wide range of ideas and turned the sketches into design mock-ups and flows. Throughout several rounds, we tested our prototypes. After validating our concepts, our Visual Designers applied the visual branding elements.

Shaping our design decisions based on our HMW explorations

Create an end-to-end experience that engages sellers and earns their trust
• by designing a short onboarding wizard to create a home profile.
• by creating design considerations for each step of the process.
• by clear communication through microcopy.
• by taking edge cases and error conditions into consideration.
• by making customer support easy to access.
• by notifying the seller about every event triggered by realtors actions in real-time.
• by informing the user about upcoming steps.
• by providing an introduction reading in every step.
• by providing a history of happenings.

Make selling homes flexible
• by allowing users to continue within their own pace.
• by enabling to go back in the process.

Create a collaborative experience for both the seller and the realtor
• by enabling sellers to plan steps themselves, such as requesting a booking and filling out required forms in the app.
• by enabling norban to keep track of upcoming appointments, deadlines, and tasks in the back-office.
• by keeping both parties informed about happenings on the other side.

What I have learned

• Presenting and communicating research findings and designs to the client.
• Working in multidisciplinary teams in an international setting.
• Gaining (creative) confidence and trust in my own skills.
• Communication with the development team.

As I started my internship at ābove, I didn't know that what awaited me would be a truly unforgettable and educational experience. Being surrounded by so many talented people within such a unique environment has impacted and shaped me on many levels. Little did I know back then that this time would shape my future path as a designer.