The customer was Pillar to Post, a company that provides home inspections for home buyers across Canada and the United States. The user of this application would be the real estate agent, as it’s their job to book a home inspection. The objective was to overhaul the inspection booking process so that it was easier and faster for the agent, as well as easier and a more organized process for the company.
Pillar to Post wanted to create a mobile app for real estate agents to book home inspections easily on both Apple and Android phones. The booking process prior to the creation of the app was that agents have to call into a call center, where their information would be taken down and the home inspection would be booked. The entire process took about twenty minutes. However real estate agents may not have all their information and have to call back several times, in which the person in the call center would leave their information on a sticky note for the next person starting their shift. This wasn’t the most ideal or organized way of passing along information, which is why Pillar to Post wanted to automate the process through an app.
We began our research by interviewing several employees at Pillar to Post to figure out what they thought the issues were, and what they thought real estate agents would want in this app. The company connected us with several real estate agents who already use Pillar to Post for home inspections so we could go through a similar interview process with them. We wanted to know how they felt about the current booking process, what their ideal process would be like, and if they used any other companies to book home inspections, if so how did the experiences compare.
We were a design team of four people; initially we began by sketching out all our ideas on paper and then came together to show each other all our ideas. From there we put all our ideas up on a board and discussed what we thought would work best. As the lead designer on this project, I took this information back and made digital wireframes for the screens that were the major touch points for the user. If the creative director or lead developer had any feedback, we took care of most of it during this stage.
Pillar to Post already had a brand that I needed to adhere to; the focus was the use of their logo and colours. We didn’t have to adhere to their font styles and the company has never had any kind of application designed before, so the overall look and feel of the app was up to me. The two major use cases I focused on was 1) searching for an available day and time to book, and 2) making sure the form was as easy as possible to fill out, since that’s where the major issues were in their current process.
We made sure the calendar experience adhered to iOS standards, since that was something the agents would be familiar with, and it did everything we needed it to do. We also needed to make sure that the in-app calendar synced to their iOS or Google calendar, so it could notify them if there was a meeting conflict while they are trying to book an inspection. Real estate agents are very busy people, from interviewing them they thought they were extremely busy, and that keeping their meetings organized was a huge issue for them.
The second major issue was how to design the very long form that agents have to fill out. We tried to make sure certain areas could be automated, like selecting a contact from your phone, and having their information be filled out automatically as your client. Or doing a quick fill via voice control.
We put our app through a beta test with the same real estate agents we interviewed months prior. The agents used the app for a minimum of two weeks, and once this beta period was over they hopped on a call with one of the designers on the team and our researcher to tell us about their experience and answer a few questions. Overall the real estate agents were overjoyed with how much easier the process was. We took this twenty minute process of calling into a call center and made it a five-minute process that could be completed anywhere anytime.
Overall, I would say our app was a success. It directly solved the problem at hand, and users were happy with it. I hindsight there are some things I would change that I wasn’t as aware of at the time. The forms we used followed iOS standards, which are understandable but not ideal for how people read and move through forms. A top to bottom way of moving through the field label and form field would have been better than the side to side reading pattern we have right now.