PropTech + CRM + CMS + B2C
Empowering real estate agents with modern technology
Create a unified platform (Website, CRM, CMS) that empowers the 10,000+ real estate agents, across 43 brokerages, with the technology to better serve their clients.
This is a collection of outcomes that the design team in whole contributed to.
My entire time with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices was spent building, validating, and preparing this platform for its debut. This case study will focus on the first launched broker site.
The real estate platform wars
The competition in real estate has gotten fierce over the last few years. Big disruptors, new business models, emerging technologies, and a new kid on the block, millennials. Not to mention the crash of 2008 which reshaped how a lot of people approach homeownership. These variables have all contributed to where we are today, savvier buyers and sellers, iBuyers — companies that use tech to make instant offers on homes, real estate agents fighting for their position in the transaction, and brokerages making bold moves. There's a lot to consider here, and it took me some time to really understand the landscape, trends, and forecasts for this market. But as designers, this fundamental understanding is critical to making meaningful contributions and adding value as quickly as we can.
Create a platform that empowers real estate agents with modern technology that makes buying or selling a home delightful and simple for consumers.
Working against a story map I would own the CMS and Agent Profile experiences. These were net new experience that required generative research methods up front and evaluative methods after.
Inspired by design sprints and retrofitted to our unique needs
After several months of participating in our established sprint cycle, I identified an opportunity to increase velocity, alignment, and collaboration. While creating this proposal I drew inspiration from Google Design Sprints, LEAN UX design studios, and Invisions design sprints. Something to note is that this workshop was created to fill a gap in our product cycle, not as a replacement of a typical design sprint. The workshop aided in:
Research was at the heart of our company. I learned new methods and grew more confident with analysis and synthesis.
Our entire process was organized around the LEAN methodology and validated learnings. This constant loop of user feedback would shape the product into something that was not only usable but also valuable. I conducted countless sessions that included:
We would need to support the largest real estate company in the country with 42,000+ real estate professionals, 1200+ offices, and located across 47 states. We would need to have a design language that stayed true to the Berkshire Hathaway brand but was flexible enough for its agents and brokerages to showcase their own unique identities.
Creating a themable component library
AUDITING THE CURRENT DESIGN LIBRARY
I had experience architecting a design library from my previous role at Gaugebox and would lead the efforts. This allowed me to quickly segment components and identify patterns in our design files. After a comprehensive audit, I was able to surface what our design language looked like across the site. The usual culprits were found such as color variants, excessive fonts, similar but different components, range CTA's, and others. From this high level view we identified a path forward for the design language.
THE RIGHT TOOL FOR THE JOB
Axure was our tool of choice initially. It served us well for creating highly interactive prototypes which we used for user testing but it came at a high cost. Propagation. Changes made in one file would not propagate to files shared by the team. This immediately introduced fragmentation into our designs. I had worked exclusively with sketch up till point in my career so when I first noticed the lack of symbols, text styles, and palettes I was concerned. After a few presentations to the team we began testing several tools to replace Axure. Ultimately we landed on Figma.
Promoting honest and transparent relationships between agents and clients
Initially this was intended to be an agent website. The website would mimic the functionality of the main brokerage site with opportunities for Agents to customize certain content. This got complicated fast from not a tech perspective but from the users experience. This was validated when we looked at the data, which showed that few agents were actually maintaining their websites, and usability tests with low success rates and NPS scores.
Providing Brokerages with a new way to manage teams, agents, and their websites
Their would be wide range of content, roles, and permissions this needed to support. Additionally, we were allowing for multiple ways of editing content via a Live-editor or text editor. These multiple ways of editing was to support the two types of users that would use the CMS.
My time at Berkshire Hathaway has allowed me to grow in ways I wouldn't have imagined as a designer. I applied learnings from previous mistakes and made new mistakes. I've conducted more experiments than ever before and I've built some amazing relationships with some very talented people. I hope this has given you a clear look into what it's like to be apart of a growing product team at a large enterprise.