ServiceMaster-backed startup HelloHome has an ambitious mission: improve the home selling process while making it cheaper at the same time.
If you’ve ever been a part of one, you know that real estate transactions are complex operations, fraught with anxiety and stressful for everyone involved. HelloHome was conceived as a replacement for the traditional seller-agent model, an app that charges a flat fee and guides you through every step of the process—something like a “Dominoes Pizza Tracker for Home Selling,” according to their own elevator pitch.
For contractural reasons, I won’t be able to show any screenshots of the work here. Feel free to reach out if you want to know more.
I was brought on as as the head User Experience and User Interface designer, a hybrid role in which I drew the primary user flows, built a design system for the app, and helped QA the implementation. It was a huge undertaking. Working directly with the CEO and CTO, we formulated a working MVP in just over a year.
I took this project on as a freelancer, knowing that it would be a challenge to squeeze all that work into the margins, but that it would be worth it to expand my skills as a UX/UI designer. Perhaps more importantly, it gave me an opportunity to be a design lead on a product team, a seat at the table where I could advocate for UX and capital-d Design as the key to market success.
Understanding the Problem
Before opening any design tools, it was important to fully understand the pain points in the traditional home selling experience so we knew exactly what problem to solve. Each transaction is unique, with different sources of friction and a dozen potential points of failure.
At a macro level, the value that HelloHome wanted to deliver was *transparency*. If the agent, buyer, and seller all knew what to expect next at all times, our mission would be successful. As a recent first-time home buyer myself, I knew first hand just how opaque the process could be at times, and often felt unprepared for what had to be done next. A good agent can help, of course, but the digital generation is always ready to embrace a tech solution to a traditional problem.
Not wanting to fall into the bias of centering our own experiences, the team also interviewed the company’s existing network of real estate professionals, and evaluated how competitors like HomeLight were solving the same problems. This process confirmed a lot of our suspicions, but also illuminated new problems and insights we might have otherwise missed.
User Flows and Wireframes
HelloHome would be an immense app. Understanding even the core user flows required starting with basic flow charts and low-fidelity wireframes.
This process helped us define not only the ideal user experience, but also the technical requirements for the MVP. Understanding how both interacted with each other was job one.
In the first round of wireframes, I took a holistic-yet-low-fidelity approach that further clarified what the main sections of the app would be, and what the primary actions we wanted the user to take at each step would be. Wireframes were the perfect way to do that, as they don’t prescribe a UI that might distract from the actual lessons we were trying to learn.
UI Design System
But eventually, it was time to make things pretty.
HelloHome is a four-headed monster: It contains a buyer dashboard, seller dashboard, admin dashboard, and marketing site. By designing atomically, I was able to ensure that styles and components shared across all four interfaces shared a core DNA. This meant that no matter what your touchpoint was with HelloHome, your experience with the brand would be consistent, which was critical to our goal of instilling confidence in our users.
Once the design started taking shape, I batched up the work and delivered it to the dev team in phases, so we could work in parallel and get to market more quickly.
If I’m being honest, there were times during this project that I felt like I’d bit off more than I could chew. It was an unfathomable amount of work to take on as a solo designer.
But the pains I felt were growing pains. The technical skills I developed working on HelloHome have applied to almost every subsequent project I’ve worked on, and the experience gave me a taste for design leadership that, I hope, will inform my career trajectory.