Compass  Guidance
Compass Guidance is an interactive onboarding experience that collects the guest's home preferences, and uses them to curate a collection of homes they may like.
Compass is part real-estate firm, part tech company. As an intern on the design team, I worked on products for both to help real estate agents and home buyers collaborate and find the perfect home. For this 3-week project, I was the sole designer.
First time users don't know how to start the home buying process, and how Compass can help them.
The target audience was first time users looking to buy their first home. They are relatively affluent, in their early-to-mid 30s, and tech-savy, but have little awareness of who Compass is, or how the home buying process works. 
Meanwhile, in order to more effectively help them find the right home, Compass real-estate agents want to learn more about their future clients.
Below is the homepage, where new users generally start their journey. 
Having no experience in buying a home, I had some listening and learning to do.
I interviewed Compass users, non-users looking to buy a home, and compass agents to learn about the process from multiple perspectives. Below are some participants, and a few quotes I found particularly enlightening. 
"In the beginning of my home search, I didn't know certain apartment features were even available in New York. I wish I had been exposed to more options earlier on. I think I missed out on the fun discovery phase."
- Jonathan, 32, not a Compass user, in the middle of home-buying process

"I've never thought about having outdoor space before– Oh! Yes I want a garden!"
- Lorina, 28, Compass user, while testing Trulia's onboarding 

"We try to get a sense of who the client is when we first meet them, so we can understand the best way to communicate with them. For example, I would talk to someone who works in finance differently than I would talk to an artist."
- Jillian, Compass agent
People enjoy dreaming of their future life, more than they enjoy weighing home features.
During each interview, I asked the interviewee questions about their lifestyle and how they imagine themselves living in the future. This caused many to dream about their future life in a way they hadn't before. This dreaming of the future turned out to be fun and engaging. I found that asking questions about their desired lifestyle was more engaging, and yielded more definitive answers, than directly asking them what features they are looking for in a home.
I observed Onboarding in the wild to understand what's already successful and what isn't.
I went through hours of onboarding and preference setting experiences of diverse sites, including real-estate platforms. I had co-workers go through a few so I could observe their reactions. Below are a few examples I found interesting. And yes, I now get monthly emails from all of these websites. 
With my knowledge of the home buying journey and onboarding, I did some brainstorming and bounced ideas of my co-workers.
Here are a few ideas that didn't make it to fruition: Pairing users with the right agent, a "which neighborhood are you?" personality quiz, an integration with Pinterest so agents can get a sense of the user's taste, and a tour of structured like an open house.
I eventually decided that showing users a collection of homes they like and want to save would be the best way to peek their interest, prompt them to provide their email and password, and expose the most helpful features.
Compass Guidance is an interactive onboarding experience that collects the guest's home preferences, and uses them to curate a collection of homes they may like.
The user can freely explore the homes in their collection, but if they want to save it, they must provide their email and create a password. They then have full access to Compass's features. They are (optionally, of course!) guided through saving their search, and inviting others to their collection.
I experimented with different ways of asking questions.
A challenge was creating a fun and engaging experience, while insuring the user that their home search was being taken seriously. 
Originally, I planned for this experience to take place in a modal, to keep the context of the search screen behind it. However, I later decided that the user would not stay in search, and therefore made the experience full screen. I also found full screen experience to be more focused than when in a modal. 
I chose to use mostly typography, with some ambient photos.
In interviews, people responded more positively to words describing a feature, over a photo or illustration. I suspect that this is because words allow the user to use their imagination to fill in the gaps. For example, when I showed a photo of an eat-in kitchen, a simple illustration of an eat-in kitchen, and a few words describing an eat-in kitchen, users were more drawn to text, because they were able to imagine they're ideal eat-in kitchen. 
For visual style, I took inspiration from Compass's website and magazines. Below are some examples of Compass's branding and style.
Final design
The experience is contextually triggered.
If the user does multiple searches, if their search results are sparse, or reach an empty state, they can opt-in to begin. Below is the existing search screen. 
The user is asked a series of lifestyle questions that prompt them to dream of their future home. Their responses are used to customize their experience. 
Categories of questions include price range, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, type of neighborhood they are interested in, importance of kitchen amenities, importance of family features, and importance of outdoor space. I worked with agents to determine these categories, and with a UX writer to write copy that was lighthearted, but instilled confidence that their search was being taken seriously.
The user's answers map to search filters that are used to create a collection of homes just for them.
I worked with a content strategist to create this answer-to-filter mapping. The user is then free to explore their collection of homes. To save it, they provide their email and create a password. 
They're officially welcomed to their collection.
They get insight into the search filters that were used to create their collection, and are given the option to save the search. I designed both screens below.
The user can then invite their search partners to their collection.
I designed this invitation experience too, but as separate project (that's a story for later). 
Users who complete this experience hit the first milestones in Compass's home buying process. 
When the user has completed the full onboarding experience, they have been introduced to Compass, provided their email and password, shared information on their lifestyle that will go to their future agent, saved a collection of homes, saved their search terms, invited their search partners to collaborate, and of course, had fun taking steps towards finding their dream home.
Had I more time, I'd continue to investigate a few things:
• How might users proactively discover this experience?
• How might I ask explicit permission from the user to send their preferences to their agent? Would users be comfortable with this? Perhaps this is opt-in.
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