RE/MAX, being the largest real estate company in the world, acquired my former company (booj) not only because of the level of customization that we put into each of our clients’ consumer-facing websites, but also because we provided a home-grown back end for agents and brokers to be able to manage their business through. RE/MAX makes their money from franchises and agents paying fees to them to be able to use the RE/MAX name and also to use the resources in which they provide (sure they want their agents to sell properties, but that’s not how they directly make their money). Because of this business model, RE/MAX wanted to further incentivize their customers, agents, to join a RE/MAX franchise by offering industry-leading products. They had previously been providing their agents with third-party tools, but with the ever-growing pressure from their competition in the real estate tech. space, RE/MAX needed a more hands-on product suite to provide.
March 2018 – January 2021
Product design lead
The platform that we set out to build was intended to encompass a multitude of products to make managing real estate business as seamless as possible without the need to use many, if any, non-internal products. This was a tall task, but luckily booj was already top of the league in the real estate space for a lot of the products that were required. We had quite the background in creating CRMs, but we would building everything from the ground up with RE/MAX's requirements.
At the same time, part of the terms of RE/MAX's acquisition of booj were that booj's current clients could remain for a limited amount of time and that they would also receive access to the suite of products that would be developed for RE/MAX. Because of these stipulations, the platform we would be building needed to be unbranded (towards RE/MAX) so that it could be repurposed for these other clients.
I led the product design for the majority of the products that we built as well as managed the design component library that all of our product-specific files pulled from. For the products that I was not the lead on, I collaborated closely with the designers who were. I also worked extremely closely with product owners to help define requirements and functionality as well as the development teams throughout the process to ensure the success of what we were creating.
During the early stages of the project, a large amount of my time was spent hashing out requirements with product owners for each of the products and creating initial compositions based off of those requirements. During this phase, there were many updates to interconnected products that we had previously gone through based off of new discovery of features that would affect those other products. It was extremely necessary to be able to think holistically about the entirety of the product set so that everything would work together without issue.
Creation of our design library and components was also big early on. The team had just transition to Sketch and we wanted to utilize its bull potential by using its component (symbol) functionality as much as we could. This meant that I would create new components as needed and update any that required changes. This was a huge boost to the team's efficiency (especially coming from Photoshop) to rapidly generate comps. and make updates as needed from feedback.
During the later stages of the project, I was still designing new features for my products, but was also largely assisting other designers on the team with how features on their products might be accomplished using the patterns and components that we had established prior. This helped us to reduce work for the development team, but was also key to not having to make our users relearn how to accomplish similar tasks that were in different products.
Upkeep of the component library was also still a large part of my role as the team needed updates to our system based of new or changing features to the products.
While the suite of products was very expansive, I was personally responsible for these.
At the point in time in which the project was starting, design systems were still a relatively young concept in the industry. While our team hadn't really put much thought into them, the resources that were put together for this project definitely made for a fairly robust system in its own right.
Because our team had just transitioned to the use of Sketch, using components and libraries were pretty new paradigms for us. I took the plunge first for this project because it just made so much sense for how big the project would be. After some time of learning and getting used to the new setup, it's hard to believe that there was a time when we didn't use components. I used my deep dive into the new app to help teach and bring up to speed the rest of the team; I soon became the go-to resource for any Sketch or componentization information.
Our component library was extremely robust and I take great pride in the level of extendibility that it offered. It was living and breathing with tweaks and additions so that it could supply everything any product or feature could need. It was completely instrumental in the speed at which we were able to put designs together since most new features could be constructed using components and patterns that we had already previously established.