Fotizi - Realtor / Vendor Scheduling App
End to End Thinking
This case study documents my UX/UI design process for creating a mobile app that helps Realtors and vendors connect and schedule services.
I have a personal connection with this app. As a Real Estate photographer myself, I experienced the frustration first hand and empathized with the Realtor of the unnecessary back and forth and wasted steps when exchanging information and booking a photoshoot.
This gave me the idea to create an app that helps improve the current photographer and Realtor scheduling experience.
A Realtor is usually on-the-go or driving when needing to schedule a home to be photographed. 99% of the time they do this by text. As the photographer, I only need several variables of information to return an exact time/response. After booking 1500+ shoots over a four year period, I’ve witness this mundane problem, over and over and learned to know the patterns of what is needed to offer better experience. My main goal of this app was to provide a platform that allows the Realtor to communicate to the photographer with minimum amount of steps as possible. Through-out this study, you will see how the idea evolved into a much larger platform for both the Realtor and the vendor.
User research / interviews
3. New Findings & Refining
4. Visual Design
Most recent statistics from the National Association of Realtors report 1,368,530 Real Estate Agents as of November, 2018 and December 2018 brought 4.99 million in sales, a median sales price of $253,600, and 3.7 months of inventory. The median sales price is up 2.9% year over year, and inventory is up 0.5% from December 2017. This selling agent for the middle range homes are our targeted demographic.
I looked at some of the current industry sites to learn how they are currently helping Realtors.
I collected a good amount of data by talking to Realtors and vendors familiar with these services. I found this a good starting point because it’s fairly quick and simple to get real user’s opinion.
I selected the following reviews to identify areas of improvement.
“I don’t like that you are required to buy a monthly subscription.”
“It’s really irritating when i have to go through the service to book or communicate with my photographer. Even for a simple question or changes. I just want instant contact”
“Sometimes I get different photographers with different styles or quality?”
“The best value is package deals with website, brochure, etc but what if just want photos?”
“I still have to book listings through a website. Even on my phone it’s a website!”
Interviewing real-life users was essential to analyze different points of view. At this stage of the process I wanted to find out what type of Realtor would seek this product and what would be their initial expectations.
Fortunately, I have plenty of existing clients/Realtors at my disposal. I focused on 5 seasoned active agents that agreed to answer my questions.
What I found during the interviewa
1. Is it Free?
2. Is it Easy?
3. Can I still contact my vendor the traditional method of call/text?
4. Can I view/share photos?
With all the information I collected on the previous steps and the below 2018 NRA statistics below I drafted two personas to help me understand different user needs and expectations.
65% percent of REALTORS® are licensed as sales agents, 21% hold broker licenses,
and 15% hold broker associate licenses.
The typical REALTOR® is a 54-year-old white female who attended college and is a homeowner.
63% of all REALTORS® are female, and the median age of all REALTORS® is 54.
Real-estate experience of all REALTORS® (median): 10 years
Median tenure at present firm (all REALTORS®): 4 years
Most REALTORS® worked 40 hours per week in 2017.
The median gross income of REALTORS® was $39,800 in 2017, a decrease from $42,500 in 2016.
Based on the user research I identified the following pain points.
1. Monthly subscriptions or packages fees
2. Inability to instantly contact photographer
3. Not guaranteed to use same photographer
4. Scheduling on website format
Evolution of my Wire-frames
This helped me put all the elements in perspective without worrying about its appearance. I found this method crucial for the development of the app, it was the easier way to test all my ideas. On my very first couple of wire-frames I thought to offer more photography options that were outside of the realm of the Realtor’s priority needs. Portraits, corporate events, staging.. After researching with other photographers, we concluded these were unnecessary extras that only distracted the user (Realtor) from the one task at hand. Focusing on Real Estate and getting a property shoot fast and easy.
We included a reward system that would be another incentive to keep using the app along with a share feature to draw/invite more users to gain even more rewards!
The design phase for mobile applications should include a prototyping stage. It is at this point that users can “play” with your ideas and concepts and give you valuable feedback that shapes the final designs before you begin development. Prototyping is the act of creating a model of a product so that it can be tested by users before you expend valuable development time on creating the actual product.
As a Designer, I already had a name in mind and created the logo. With the selling pitch that defines the purpose of the app “Booking Real Estate Shoots Fast and Easy”, I used a play off words with one catchy name “Fotizi! “. To bring it to life and share my vision with the test subjects and developers, I used Adobe XD and Sketch to design the screens and Marvel to showcase the interaction. See Marvel prototype here: https://marvelapp.com/aeid03a/screen/52033186
The next step was to test the app with some real-life users. These wire-frames can be combined together to create a basic mock-up of the Minimum Viable Product. In the initial stages of development, wire-frames are an excellent way to communicate the requirements of the product to your visual designers and software developers.
New Findings & Refining
After tests, I found out lots of stuff that required improvement, new accessory requests and how this platform could bring value to more than just photographers.
Home Page CTA
During the first round of tests, I noticed that some users were hesitant to sign up right away without completely understanding how the app work.
On my first version of wire-frames, the CTA was to “Sign up” so I changed the action to “Book it” allowing the user to freely move forward, getting comfortable with and understanding the platform before being asked for their information.
Both Realtors and Photographers inspired valuable additional features from their suggested wish list. When shooting homes, photographers need to determine the best time of day when the sun is shining to get the maximum amount of light on the front of the house. For this, they rely on a Sun Calculator map that lives on a separate public server on the web. I had my developer code a sun calculator icon/button to allow photographers to check the sun positioning without leaving the app. This also inspired an additional weather report and a navigation icon..
After accessibility testing I had to adjust our colors to provide maximum contrast, for anyone with low vision or color deficiencies
Mores than Just Photographers!
It didn’t take long into testing for me to realize that the new service I was offering could bring value to more than just photographers. After repeat requests from Realtors if it could be used by other vendors, I knew I had a much larger platform to offer. With these findings, I had to rework the navigation map and refine parts of the app and then test it again.
I can’t emphasize the importance of usability-testing. Not only will this help in Identifying unseen problems in the design of the product or service but also can uncover opportunities to improve the experience. In this case, my test subjects conveyed the need to bring more non-photographer vendors to the platform. Listening to the user, this is exactly what I did. I redesigned the flow and Interaction of the app to cater to all Real-Estate focused vendors. This updated experience opened the door inviting a wide range of new users to the platform.
To get inspired, I looked at any kind of service provider apps and websites, learning about the colors, typography and general style. With minimal design in mind, my goal was to use simple icons, bright colors while holding the user’s interest, as it help users to access the app easily.
The next step was to test a few color palettes. I went with blue colors as they normally convey stability, harmony, peace, calm and trust Having my primary color in mind, I completed my palette with complementary colors I found with the help of the Adobe Color tool.
Creating this mobile app evolved into a big, challenging and rewarding project. I needed to embody the existing original experience, but improve it at the same time. Through surveys and interviews, I was able to validate current features and also discovered that this tool, I made for me (as a photographer) and the Realtor, revealed a need for all vendors. It was challenging to keep track of all of the existing minor details at first, but using Trello to stay organized and Sketch symbols to update my design files helped me stay focused on the big picture.
Currently, still being fined tuned by the developers, I am super pleased with the results and looking forward to releasing Fotizi into the wild, offering a valuable service while observing the ultimate user testing to continually guide me with future changes.
Please check out the current Fotizi app here: www.fotizi.com.