How might we build a modern, real-estate business for a newspaper?
The Wall Street Journal (Newscorp) has a popular section devoted to mansions. Inspired, they saw a chance to turn an editorial segment to an online marketplace.
I wanted to understand what luxury meant to a growing group of international buyers. I read papers published by Christie’s, Forbes, and the Chinese paper, Jing Daily.
These were demographic groups I knew little of. There were significant nuances between each. In particular was the stark difference between the first and second Chinese generations.
[1st generation] . . . prefer to be discreet about their financial holdings and incomes sources . . . In contrast, second generation HNW individuals, who grew up wealthy, enjoy showing off their affluence.- Understanding the High Net Worth Market in China (p4)
Another learning was the luxury market. It correlated with the performance of the luxury goods market and not the housing market.[^1] This was formative in how we understood high net worth real-estate buyers. The online habits and expectations of the general housing wouldn’t always be translatable.
Content Strategy * Art Direction
I created a few designs with an editorial slant to real-estate (above). Mixed in were large fashion photography and views of the city. The typography was reminiscent of the newspaper–narrow columns, captions, and long form writing. Listings would have a story to tell, not numbers.
The team decided to take an alternate approach: data forward. The listings would instead act like a dashboard and provide comparative date.
Early on, my co-lead and I created click-through mobile prototypes (using Flinto). This helped the team get a feel for different navigation styles.
Workshop with stakeholder groups
I flew out to New York to run a two-day workshop. The stakeholders had competing interests and I needed agreement on designs. In the room were representatives for editorial, advertisement, Chinese market, technical, and brand.
For each key screen in the site flow, I asked each stakeholder to list what would be most important to them. Within their list, I asked them to put one of their items as a must-have. I then drew different layouts based on these priorities in front of the group.
Why did it work? Workshops are an opportunity for everyone to hear each other. Though teammates may be sitting next to each other, they may not always be talking with one another. Playing the role of the outsider and facilitator allowed me to start fresh. Assuming I know the least about their expertise, I can ask simple, basic questions on behalf of others. This, I have often found, has been one of the most helpful side effects to a workshop.
I did quick word mark explorations to help them see what might be possible for their brand. These designs were not selected, but the concept of heft did carry through to their final design.
The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) is a database from which real-estate data draws from. Redfin for example acts a brokerage and surfaces their data from the MLS.
Not all listings are created equal. Photos can vary in quality, type, and dimension. Listing details can range from a few bullet points to several paragraphs. So the layouts needed to work when content was both sparse and overflowing.
I split each listing segment into individual components. The layout wasn’t contingent on a minimal amount of content nor would it break when everything was provided.
“NEW YORK, May 1, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Dow Jones announced today the launch of Mansion Global (mansionglobal.com), a standalone, global luxury real estate web site that brings together high-end property listings from brokerages and developers around the world with comprehensive news and data. By seamlessly integrating property search and related news, the site is designed to empower international buyers to make intelligent purchase decisions and to engage the luxury real estate enthusiast. The site will feature original content as well as news and information from News Corp publications and web sites around the world.”
About the project
Sr designer at Substantial
UI, UX with Dheyvi V.