Understanding UX and CX with Australian real-estate portal Domain
FINDING a house to buy or rent is quite a challenge for the average Joe (or Jane), which is why hot property markets usually have plenty of websites that offer to simplify the search.
In Australia, Domain is that go-to platform for those looking to buy or rent a place to live.
The website might have a simple homepage, but the team has put in a lot of work behind-the-scenes to ensure that customers can focus on their search rather than get bogged down by complicated options and controls.
Tech Wire Asia recently interviewed Domain Product Design Director David Meier who explained some of the company’s thoughts behind its user interface (UI) and customer experience (CX) design process.
Meier has been with Domain for almost five years now and has not only built and scaled the team but also won several awards for the company.
“Our vision at Domain is to inspire confidence in all of life’s property decisions, and that includes a focus on homeowners who may be looking to sell now or in the future, or who are looking to enhance their home living experience today.”
Meier highlights that Domain has a strong UX team consisting of 16 talented individuals with a variety of skill sets including research specialists, interface designers, product copywriters, and a design-operations specialist.
The team collaborates with product managers and technology leads to understand business requirements and priorities, and identify problem statements that can be transformed into design solutions.
Domain’s UX designers, Meier reveals, also have access to an in-house user-testing lab, which allows both designers and stakeholders to see user-reactions to design solutions in real-time.
Through the lab, the company is able to test new features and capabilities, early and often, helping engineers invest their time in building only those products that have a degree of design validation.
“This is particularly important for larger projects,” explained Meier. “For smaller iterations or optimizations on existing features, we’ll go very lean on the user-testing and move to build quicker.”
The leaner approach allows Domain to test the feature with a smaller audience percentage, and closely observe the data to determine whether the result positively confirms the initial hypothesis.
“At its core, the design solution is a hypothesis that we will prove right or wrong through user testing.”
A data-driven design approach benefits Domain too
Given Domain’s role in the customer’s extended journey through its offerings Domain Loan Finder (in partnership with Lendi) and sister company Domain Insure, the company has an added incentive to understand its customers and deliver better products and services to them.
“We seek to educate our owners on the property market and trends, on the selling process, and when the time comes, help them find the best agent and refinance options to make their next big step.”
On this journey, Meier says that the first step is to understand exactly who the audience is.
“We have assumptions that we make based on user search behavior. In order to create an optimal user experience, the holy grail is to have validated user persona buckets.”
In other words, based on search patterns (and trends), Domain is able to say with 99+ percent certainty that user X is a first home buyer. With this validation, it can then direct the customer to home loan products that are tailored to their requirements.
We aim to integrate the loan experience as much as possible through the whole online property journey. One example of this is home loan calculators, which provide great consumer value, also drives traffic towards our great home loan products.
Domain seems to have struck a great balance with its customers, using data to personalize delightfully (as against over-personalizing and creeping them out) — and it looks like the company’s focus on data deserves credit for this.
“We place a huge amount of importance on data at Domain, which is supported by a team of outstanding data scientists, most of whom have PhDs. As a product designer, it’s crucial to have access to clean data that will inform design solutions.”
The company, Meier reveals, understands the importance of having a constant finger on the pulse when it comes to understanding its users — and it uses data to support it.
“We use data to understand user sentiment, and have a variety of quantitative methods of gathering data, including on-site surveys and Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys.
“This helps us establish a baseline which we can then measure against after a period of time. We can also gather feedback on a more granular feature level through custom survey widgets we’ve built, which measure customer satisfaction.”
Once Domain has gathered feedback, it often iterates on the feature that was highlighted, then goes back and asks the same question to see if the design solution has created a positive impact.
Beneath the surface, however, Domain’s approach to design has a certain focus on speed. This is what helps the company stay on top of customer needs and ahead of competitors.
“We’re essentially in a duopoly with a very strong competitor, with plenty of other smaller portals and innovative fast-moving startups trying to disrupt the property buying experience.
“If we’re not continually innovating, and making life easier for both our consumers (the property seekers), and clients (real estate agents), then we’ll lose valuable ground to our competitors,” concluded Meier.