Redesigning the property profile
While at Domain, I had the opportunity to redesign the property profile, a page that displays property data, including historical sales information, similar properties nearby, and other data points. It was an opportunity to rethink the user experience, and optimise the page for both property seekers and help to drive business goals.
There is a lot of useful property data available to property seekers, but we heard from users that they didn’t know this information existed on our website. Over time, more and more features and call-to-actions had been added without considering how people would use the product, and valuable information was either buried or difficult to discover.
For the redesign to be successful, I needed to ensure the team was solving the right problems and were aligned on the project goals. To do that, I had to advocate for a design approach, drive user research, and help the team understand users and the motivations they have.
Understanding problems with the existing experience
The Domain web product team are all invested in helping property seekers meet their goals. Many people on the team have mentioned that various parts of the ‘Home Price Guide’, where the property profile lives, could use some improvements. I decided to conduct a co-design-cum-user-study exercise with team members to understand some of the pain points of the current experience.
I printed and cut out components from various pages and asked team members to design the property profile with the paper cutouts. I also asked them to create one version for home buyers doing research, and one for home owners who want to understand the value of their property.
Doing this exericise, I was able to see what people identified as pain points in the current experience, which features they deemed important for different target audiences, and narrow in on the main user problems we wanted to solve for.
It was difficult for property seekers to find the information they care about
The information that users overwhelmingly cared about if they are home owners, is comparable properties, which was further down the page, below other information such price estimate, historical sales, and an equity calculator. They would need to scroll past a lot of information they don’t necessarily care about, to find the information that matters to them.
Features that already existed were not easy to discover
I’d had users who told me they wanted to know which properties had sold near them; for example, a feature to see units sold in their apartment building. In fact, a building and street profile feature already existed, but they were difficult to discover. This problem arose because these features had been developed without taking into account user needs or behaviour.
Once we validated and agreed on the the primary problems, it was easy to align the team and the stakeholders on the project goal—which was, to make it easier for people to find information when researching a property, and be able to access local market trends in one place.
Improving the UI to help people understand their property value
Monitor what’s happening in their neighbourhood
We wanted to make the similiar properties feature more useful. The old UI had a list of comparable properties recently sold nearby. But depending on the available data, “recently” could be 3 years or 12 months, and “nearby” could mean 750m or 3km, and the ‘bed bath parking’ aspects could be different.
When we asked users what they considered a comparable property, they wanted to see the same ‘bed bath parking’ at a minimum, and after that, different people voiced different considerations for how they would evaluate a comparable property. As a result, some users didn’t trust the results we were showing them.
Following the lessons we learned from testing, we knew similar properties would be a focus for the redesign. We made the section much more useful by including not only sold, but also similar properties that were ‘for sale’ and ‘for rent’. We added filters to allow users to determine which similiar properties they wanted to see. On the property cards, we even included a data point on the distance between the properties, and noted if there was a delta between the ‘bed bath parking’.
A more effective call-to-action
At the same time, we wanted users to sign up to a Domain account. We noticed in the user study that most people were reluctant to sign up becuase they didn’t see the value of the “tracking their home”. I came up with the idea to tie the call-to-action to something property owners and buyers both value: keeping track of the local property market. We also presented the call-to-action to sign up alongside similar properties, rather than focusing the message only on tracking the price estimate.
As a result of the research and UI changes that made the property profile more useful, we anticipated an increase in users signing to a Domain account overall.
By understanding property owners, their goals, and their motivations, we were able to bring the team along on the journey, and make one of our underused features more discovereable and easier to use. The work also helped inform another feature launched shortly afterwards; the owner dashboard, where users can monitor their home value, and local market activity. The property profile redesign was an important first step in turning a realestate marketplace into a property portal that better understands our users and meets their needs.