about era

ERA is a prominent real estate franchise that stands out for its commitment to excellence in the property market. With a rich history and a strong reputation, ERA has become a trusted name in real estate services.

Well-known for its innovative approach, cutting-edge technology, and a large network of franchises and professionals, ERA provides clients with top-notch solutions for buying, selling, or renting properties. The franchise’s emphasis on customer satisfaction and industry expertise makes it a go-to choice for individuals and businesses seeking reliable real estate services. 

initial prompt

to design an extended reality platform for a real estate agency.

Role
ux/ui/xr designer

Project Specifications:
Timeline: January to April ’23 Duration: 11 weeks Client: ERA® Portugal

Tools
figma
ipanorama 360
photoshop
illustrator
spotify

initial briefing

how can ux help real estate businesses and costumers?

User experience/interaction is a transformative force in real estate, reshaping interactions between businesses and clients. For clients, a well-designed UX simplifies property searches with intuitive interfaces and effective filters, facilitating a seamless experience. Visual elements like high-quality images and interactive tours provide a comprehensive preview, empowering users to make informed decisions remotely.

Real estate businesses benefit from UX investments by enhancing operational efficiency and brand perception. A user-friendly platform not only attracts potential clients but also streamlines internal processes. Mobile responsiveness is crucial in the digital era, ensuring effortless engagement with the platform. In essence, a well-crafted UX serves as a strategic asset, attracting clients and optimizing business processes for sustained success in the dynamic real estate industry.

process

process

This project needed extensive research to understand the different kind of users within real estate relations, competitive audits and to understand what technology should be used and how it would successfully impact business relations and user experience/interaction.

research

In the dynamic landscape of xr technologies, user experience takes center stage. virtual reality (vr), augmented reality (ar), and mixed reality (mr) blend the physical and digital worlds, opening up a realm of possibilities. As users engage with immersive environments, xr enhances the way we perceive, interact, and learn. The tactile, real-time interaction with digital elements offers a unique and intuitive user journey. From educational simulations to collaborative workspaces, xr technologies redefine how we navigate and comprehend information, fostering a more natural and experiential connection between users and the digital spac

virtual reality
Fully immerses users in a computer-generated, isolated virtual environment, typically experienced through headsets or vr glasses.

augmented reality
Overlays digital content onto the real world, blending virtual elements with the user's physical surroundings through devices like smartphones or ar glasses.

mixed reality
Combines elements of both vr and ar, allowing digital and real-world elements to coexist and interact within the user's environment.

strenghts
1. process streamlining
2. immersive ux
3. better product awareness
4. market differentiation
5. accessibility features for physical impairments
6. general costs reducing

weaknesses
1. motion sickness, eye strain, fatigue,
physical injuries through misuse of vr headsets
2. high costs of development implementation
3. high costs of gear acquisition (vr headsets, etc.)
4. reduced social engagement

opportunities
1. customization (a.r.)
2. interaction features

threats
1. cyber-hacking (general and data's)
2. misuse of data
3. invasion of physical personal space

weaknesses and threats reconversion

use of mobile/desktop 360º
panoramic widgets instead
of headset platforms.

motion sickness, eye strain, fatigue, physical
injuries through misuse of VR headsets

use of actual 360º photos
from the existent properties
instead of designed
virtual representations.

property misrepresentation

0 bn

XR market value by 2030

0 %

Increase of conversions that simple XR innovations like 3D content can outcome

0 %

Distribution of the XR market area in the real estate market in 2022

0 %

of customers now expect retailers to offer at least an XR experience

0 %

Brand awareness increases by up to 70% with the use of creative ar for customer engagement

0 /5

Almost 1 in 5 US consumers have used a vr product in 2020

0 %

71% of customers say they would shop more if they had access to AR

0 %

would definitely choose to shop with a store that has VR over one that doesn’t.

0 %

customers revealed they were already using augmented reality as part of their shopping experience in 2020.

user research

During these collaborative calls, two crucial end user profiles were identified :

  1. the client
  2. the agent

In creating two personas, I met Phil – a retired 62-old engineer from Manchester – and José – a 48 year-old agent from Lisbon.

meet the client | phil holding

62 yo retired civil engineer. Lives in Manchester with his wife Gemma.

frustrations
1. finds the current cost of living too overwhelming to pursue her career goals.
2. is extremely stressed out by climate crisis.
3. overall, feels that her mental health had been declining over the past few years and puts a lot of effort to take care of her.

goals
1. to move to Portugal;
2. to find a more quiet and private space to live in; 3. to directly involve in a real estate process of acquiring his life dream property;

meet the agent | josé castilho

48 yo Real Estate founder at a small agency. Lives in Lisbon with his wife and kids.

frustrations
1. feels it is harder to deal with intermediary services
2. thinks photography services are too expensive and outdated;
3. knows that vr/ar/xr are the future of real estate services;
4. feels that it is difficult to differentiate from the competition.

goals
1. to set a direct communication model with his clients overseas
2. to make a statement in the real estate business.

pain point I
real estate agents often work long hours and have to juggle multiple tasks at once, such as scheduling property viewings, conducting market research, and negotiating deals.

pain point II
the real estate industry is highly competitive, and agents need to be able to differentiate themselves from their competitors.

pain point III
foreign clients find difficult to trust in intermediary services and to remotely recognize the value of a property they are investing money in.

research

competitor analysis

Examining the design choices among various alternative medicine clinics unveils a diverse landscape of approaches.

Each clinic’s website, encompassing elements such as color schemes and navigation structures, serves as a visual representation of its distinctive identity. This comparative analysis offers valuable insights into prevalent design trends within the alternative medicine sector. 

Additionally, it sheds light on effective strategies employed by clinics to convey the principles of holistic health practices, fostering a deeper connection with their audience.

houseofiris.nl

HouseofIris.com features a clean and minimal design, incorporating icons’ mute communication, focused headings, and prominent CTAs. This streamlined approach ensures easy navigation and directs user attention to key elements, enhancing overall user engagement.

ideate

Some rapid ideas were drawn in order to speed-idealize what could the user flow help on interacting with a XR visualization of a property.

visualization of how virtual tour guidance with the use of headsets would work for user with physical impairments/or without much knowlegdge on using devices in a daily basis.

visualization of how virtual tour guidance through distance web calls would work for user with physical impairments/or without much knowlegdge on using devices in a daily basis.

speed-idealization of the virtual tour guidance with full autonomy through the use of an app with different properties and locations. Integration of tooltips to present information and special features.

define

platform structure (information architecture)

After the ideation phase, it was clear to me that autonomy from the user to navigate through a product to visualize properties and to get to know more about their features, specially if it has the capability of avoiding most of the threats that were numbered above.

From this point, it was also clear to me that this product would be design in a shape of an online virtual catalog that would contain:

a front page with sections in the shape of an online store.

a property page, where the users may know more about a certain property;

a virtual tour, embed in the app or displayed through an external web link, that leads to a CTA/contact section.

 

design

wireframing & lo-fi

After the ideation phase, it was clear to me that autonomy from the user to navigate through a product to visualize properties and to get to know more about their features, specially if it has the capability of avoiding most of the threats that were numbered above.

homepage

property page

homepage

property page

testing

affinity mapping post-usability tests

Interaction

Sliding interaction works better once the 360º demand finger action and enhances conversions

Side menu should be sticky to be available all along the navigation to enhance conversions

 

Gestalt

Red elements are meant to induce action and orientation (proximity and similarity)

Round edged-squares are meant to induce stay and interaction

Accessibility

An option to adapt the menu side to the left handed should be included

The colour contrats works in terms of the WebAim

The sliding menu helps to reduce cognitive overload

Navigation

The time until conversions seems to depend on the interaction with the 360º panos

The navigations presents itself as easier when using the sliding arrows

Architecture with two (main) pages enhance conversions and user interaction with the 360ºs

Conversions

The side sticky menu allows conversions enhancement

An option to slide the page navigation allows conversion enhancement

An option to add a more direct approach (f.e. whatsapp) should be added

Other

Sliding interaction would work better once the 360º demand finger interaction

Side menu would better be sticky to be available all along the navigation

The navigation is only adapted to right-handed users

xr design

Enabling direct mouse interaction on desktop or finger interaction on mobile devices — including actions like clicking, hovering, and dragging — was a deliberate choice. This approach not only enhances the user experience but also offers feedback, instills a sense of control, and enhances overall usability. Integrating interactive elements into a website contributes to a more engaging and immersive experience, fostering a connection that goes beyond passive browsing.

wide array & zoom in/out
makes visual content immersive
increases product understanding
creates user control
provides experience autonomy

mouse hover
provides visual feedback
improves user engagement
helps guide user behavior
enhances user experience

product tooltips/hotspots
increases product understanding
improves usability
reduces cognitive load
provides additional information

high-fidelity prototype

homepage

property page

accessibility

finger design for
the left-handed

the design for the left hand thumb interaction was considered, easing the experience for the left-handed and for situational touch (ex: broken right arm)

colour contrast display
in order to organize the multiple static and sticky elements, a #F5F5F5 background colour was joint with three additional contrast colours. e

permanent & situational mobility
the essence of this project aims primarly to access virtually properties through a device.

gestalt principles
similarity, continuation, closure, proximity, figure/ground, and symmetry & order were considered.

final considerations

next steps

In the short term, my focus lies on refining the user experience for various devices. I will develop prototypes tailored for tablets, desktops, and storefront televisions to ensure a seamless online catalog experience across different screens. This iteration aims to enhance accessibility and usability, catering to users who prefer diverse devices for their real estate exploration.

Looking towards the medium to long term, I am committed to inclusivity in our online catalog design. Investment in features like screen reader compatibility, catering to users with visual impairments. Additionally, I will develop ways to enhance the experience for users with impairments related to hearing and proprioception, ensuring that 360 walkthroughs are not only visually engaging but also accessible to a broader audience. By incorporating these iterations, I will towards creating an inclusive and immersive online catalog for real estate agencies, setting the stage for a more accessible and user-friendly future.

what i learned

This project had been truly pleasing to approach once I feel that XR is an exciting new technology still in a state-of-the art progress. I have been feeling that this is a tool that enhances the costumer experience and demands a lot of technical knowledge and constant iteration to be successfully applied particularly in the real estate market.

thank you!

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