Product design and strategy for a new digital platform
The rental market in the UK can be a frustrating experience for both tenants and landlords alike. Unlike house owners, Tenants can invest thousands of pounds in rent over the years without any credit score increase. Landlords have to repeatedly reference check new tenants and for each property, store and manage numerous documents. That’s not to mention numerous fee’s slapped on along the way.
RentalStep approached me to help define a product strategy, brand and identity, UX/UI design and HTML5 & CSS3 for the first release of the RentalStep platform. I also collaborated with RentalStep to lay the foundations for future developments, in the form of a product roadmap.
A considered design strategy
With a broad brief and launch date approaching, it was important to first bring the core team (Mike, Chris and Hayley) together to establish a clear vision of what we hope to achieve, who we hope to serve and how we intend to deliver value. We applied human centred design principles; a creative approach to problem solving that puts the user of your product (and their needs), at the centre of the product strategy. With this in mind and after some initial market and user research, I facilitated a number of workshops with RentalStep and users. Brainstorming customer and market pain points with potential solutions, to highlight opportunities that best satisfy the user and market.
Making time to better understand and empathise with your audience earlier on, helps designers to make more informed decisions. With a hundred and one ‘feature’ ideas, we prioritised our core product offer that best supported our users needs. With the first release of RentalStep focusing on ‘tenants’, I designed a user flow that detailed the main user actions for on-boarding, profile completion and ‘tenant passport’ status. Working with RentalSteps technical team, I then created a wireframe prototype to test and refine the user experience (UX), making sure the flow was intuitive, accessible and technically feasible for the first release.
We took a ‘content first’ approach when first building our design system, making sure dashboard elements were responsive to their content, as well as the elements around. Atomic design principles helped us to build, manage and maintain a visual library, that essentially uses common components to build larger elements. This is also helpful for the development phase, preparing a flexible and modular asset library that works well with popular templating frameworks such as Angular, React and Vue.
Finally, I worked with Chris to develop the front-end HTML5 & CSS3 template markup, that he would use to build the data driven web-app on. Reflecting the atomic design system with how we organise exported assets, to our semantic markup and class styles.
With a firm strategy in place to build and evolve their product around, RentalStep are now able to focus their time on marketing and preparing for future product releases.