The owner of Houses in San Antonio has been in the real estate industry for close to 25 years. Over the past five to ten years, she has noticed a change in both the amount and the type of information being requested by home buyers—from wanting answers to big questions like who the current owners use for small jobs or repairs to the smaller questions like what size filters are used in the central air units.
How can homeowners keep all of the important information about their homes easily accessible without being burdened by saving or maintaining numerous files of manuals, receipts, and vendor contacts?
Would a digital file cabinet dedicated to homeowners, real estate investors, agents, and home repair professionals resonate?
I conducted virtual interviews and online surveys with homeowners, realtors, and home repair pros to see if they would find value in a system that keeps home records secure and easily accessible.
In total: 10 Interviews + 24 Survey responses
01 Need for a secure repository for information
02 Need for easy storage and search function
03 Need for easy maintenance reminders
04 Unclear if account holders would be active
05 Need for web and mobile application
"I am not sure if I would use another home filing system, but if it's easy to use and is something I find useful, I would definitely give It a try."
"I would find a lot of value ina system that allows me to be connected to a home so the homeowner could contact me whenever they need something fixed."
JULIO, HOME REPAIR PRO
"I hate keeping manuals for the different things I buy. If I could have a system to upload them and open a file whenever I need to find an answer, I would use it!"
To create a product that homeowners, agents, and home repair pros would find valuable, the owners of HouseBones need a holistic, easily transferrable system that is visually-pleasing, useful, and encourages users to return.
Asking more questions
In additional informal chats, I spoke with several realtors and discovered what they have experienced when working with homeowners to sell their property. From their perspective, accurate home records were a hit or a miss. They mentioned homeowners would sometimes keep records for two or three years, but would then dispose of the information when they felt it was no longer needed.
From the homeowners interviewed, I discovered that while many of them kept good information about their homes, they felt maintaining files was cumbersome. They mentioned that they experienced frustration when they knew they had saved documentation, but were unable to find the information when they needed it.
Marketing Web Site
For the marketing portion, I designed a website that provided an easy-to-use entry point to engage with homeowners, agents, and home repair pros, The site's main purpose is to get them to understand the value of the HouseBones system and encourage them to sign-up.
Development progressed with initial sketches, user flow explorations, quick prototypes, and testing. An iOS version of the app has been started and will be unveiled as part of version 2.0.
I quickly moved to high-fidelity mockups to validate some user issues discovered during testing. The mockups were created in Invision Studio to allow for interactive prototype exploration.
While developing the web application, we have concurrently been working on a mobile application. As part of some of the initial talks regarding the mobile version, I mocked up an interactive prototype to help everyone visualize the product.
Results and Challenges
From the logo to the brand voice, the marketing website to the web app and the mobile app, I have created, nurtured, and evolved the brand communication system in its various forms. Throughout the creative process, I have worked to design and develop a clean and simple visual vocabulary that—while being very robust—maintains a fresh, intuitive human-centered experience.
With so many different elements that need to be accounted for, recorded, and maintained in a typical home, I'm challenged to create different users flows and combinations that would need the help of a development team. As I continue on the project, I am learning agile methods to help the process move smoothly through the user research, wireframing, and rigorous iteration stages with the focus always being on the user end goal—an easy-to-use documentation, communication, and reminder system for homeowners.
www: HouseBones.com (in development)