Connecting Real Estate experts to help neighbors make smart decisions about their homes
Project 1 / Real Estate Data Integration
Nextdoor is at a unique position in the real estate industry - with 70% of our verified members being homeowners (in the US), agents can share their local expertise with and gain exposure in neighbors targeted zips.
When I joined the team, Nextdoor just signed a partnership with HouseCanary, a real estate data and analytics provider. The team aimed to inform and educate homeowners and buyers with valuable local insights that enable them to make the best possible real estate and home renovation decisions. With a more active and informed audience, agents can use Nextdoor as the most targeted platform to share local market knowledge and establish themselves as the trusted local resources in real estate transactions.
My research process is a blend of human-centric and data-driven approaches. The overall goal is to identify what data should be shown, where on the product is the data best integrated, and how should the right data be presented.
People / Members I prepared two different mockups and interviewed users to find out 1) the information they value on a listing page 2) the different the use cases of home valuation for homeowners, renters, buyers, and 3) what sets Nextdoor apart from other real estate websites.
By talking to users, I got a firm understanding of the mindset of different user groups (buyers, investors, renters, sellers) and what information matters the most to them. One of the most important themes that we found was that members like to browse listings on Nextdoor mostly because Nextdoor is simpler and easier to read, while other real estate sites are very overwhelming. This finding really guided the design decisions I made later.
People / Agents I spoke with customer support to learn about how agents feel about having third-party home valuations on listings to ensure it won't hurt the business.
Data / Platforms I looked into the breakdown of the listing page views from desktop and mobile and how members are getting to the listings (from the section map, news feed, or email).
Data / Quality As a data science major, I knew the nature of data we are working with is important. Having a good understanding of the coverage and quality of the data provided by HouseCanary informed the design of error state and use of language to convey uncertainty.
Problem Statement / How do we integrate the right real estate data into the right context to inform and hence enable members to make better real estate decisions?
Naturally, the team wanted to want to highlight the home comparisons on the listing page as it is a unique competitive advantage - Nextdoor users can easily see the difference in size, amenities, worth between their property and the listing in seconds.
However, as I explored many variations to combine both the information of the listing and the comparison to the user's home into the listing page in different visual styles (see below), it became evident that would mean compromising a clean design and potentially turn away our users who came to see listings on Nextdoor for a less overwhelming browsing experience.
At the end of the day, Nextdoor is an app for neighbors, and maintaining a neighborly and easy-to-understand visual language prevails. I wanted to make sure the experience of browsing listings and comparisons is like talking to neighbors, so I went for a simple display of comparisons and statistics, without sophisticated graphs and jargons.
To accommodate different personas and keep the design of the listing page clean and straightforward, I decoupled the Home Valuation and the Comparison tool. The listing page contains only listing-specific pricing and forecasts to satisfy both buyers' and sellers' need for essential details of the listing. Members that are interested in seeing the difference have the option to navigate to the comparison tool to learn how their properties square up to the listing that they are viewing.
With a larger coverage of real estate listings and our unique home comparison tool, the real estate section has seen an increase in traffic and engagement after the launch of the new feature. See one of the press articles on this launch here.
Project 2 / Real Estate Section Improvements
Since Real Estate was a rather new product vertical on Nextdoor, the section map was very much an MVP with lots of room for improvement. I proactively worked on a collection of projects to enhance the section map.
Effective and usable filters are an industry standard of real estate products. We ran a short survey on the Real Estate section to learn what can we do to make users' browsing experience better. Meanwhile, thinking systemically, I audited all the filters on Nextdoor to understand the implications that new filter schemes will have on other verticals. To remove the inconsistencies, I proposed a new filtering system for Real Estate that also works for other parts Nextdoor, on both desktop and mobile.
On mobile, we used to have bottom sheets for the filter and sort. However, as parameters increase, the multiple bottoms sheets would be hard for users to navigate between different filters and have an overview of the combination of filters. Therefore, I moved all the filters and sorting to a separate page, and centralized the controls (list/map view toggle and filters) of the section to the top of the listings.
Other fun stuff
Hackathon project: Coffee with Neighbors!
During my internship, I participated in a 3-day internal hackathon where we got to form teams with people that we normally don't work with and create the version of Nextdoor that we envision.
Inspired by Tea With Strangers, five of us wanted to leverage the Nextdoor platform to get neighbors talking - not just online, but also offline, by making it extremely simple and easy to plan get-togethers. We worked on a feature called "Coffee Hours" that aims to enable neighbors to have more in-person interactions and make Nextdoor less of a solely utilitarian product.
Nextdoor recently launched in Italy and Spain. I created these localized illustrations for the invitation postcards that were sent to neighbors. It was super fun to work with Spanish and Italian cultural linguists to make sure the details are local and neighborly - from the architecture to the lamp post!