Houzz is a great eco-system of product offerings for different spaces. One of the many things it offers is the ability to hire a quality professional with your home improvement projects. Which works great for large scale projects, but it can be a daunting experience for the users with much smaller and immediate needs. This product experience concept shows how Houzz can evolve its offering to suit their user's need at all scale.
Understanding on-demand model
The market is littered with on-demand products in pretty much every industry and that's where I started. I was looking to dissect the experience to figure out the core pillars needed to build a successful on-demand product.
What are some of the principles driving growth and engagement of such a model?
What factors lead to a successful transaction/conversion?
What are some of the friction points in such an experience?
What are the implications for the flip side of the market place?
These were some of the big questions and I was looking to get answers from the competitive market. Apps like Uber, DoorDash, Instacart, Thumbtack seem to have cracked this to some extent. There's a consistent pattern across all those and other on-demand products. Based on my analysis, there are 4 principles that underlies any successful on-demand model.
Making a choice
That gives me a pretty good handle on understanding the business model. But on the product experience end, I still had to figure out one key problem, conversion. In Houzz's context, there may be multiple service provider who can help the user, leaving the user with a choice. What does a user go through in that process of making a decision to pick a professional? I started by digging through current 'Find a Pro' feature on Houzz to see what features act as an influence when picking a professional. This choice can lead to a transaction affecting both the parties equally.
At this point, I had a pretty good idea of the business model as well as a user flow for making a choice. So I wanted to map out the entire user journey of an ideal experience for such a product incorporating my learnings and my experience with similar products. This'll help establish a good UX flow.
The user journey map made things clear in terms of feature set as well as the overall flow. So I started sketching out some ideas that were twirling around in my head. This is purely to capture the idea while its delicate. I like to capture some key frames from the (imaginary) storyboard of the user journey as they're important milestones and can influence the experience.
Parent app user acquisition
Houzz Now will be integrated with the parent app to acquire some of the target audience with smaller projects looking to hire a pro. It also increases the general awareness about the new offering from Houzz.
Find a Pro
This is a natural place to plug the new product offering. People coming to Find a Pro could benefit if their need is catered by the new product. It also educates the user about such a product for a future need or potentially referring others.
A more targeted approach has the potential to acquire more effective users. On a product details section, a user seeking help on how to assemble may find this highly appropriate. Houzz Now can directly recommend a pro since most of the details are available on the product details page. Rest can be captured once the user launches Houzz now.
A simpler questionnaire
In this flow, users first start with the scale of the project. Since it's a first natural and obvious question to get out of the way, which makes it less intimidating up front. An added benefit of categorizing by scale is that now options are well organized in those 3 buckets, meaning fewer options to go through at any given point. Questions and steps will change based on the service. This makes it simpler to start and finish projects.
As soon as a user finishes providing details about the project, the quotes start popping in, depending on how the common or complicated the project is.
Transparent Pricing: Keeping in line with the business model, prices are listed up front for full transparency. Since its well-defined scope of work, it is easier for the service provider to provide a quote for a project upfront.
ETA: In addition to price, given the instant nature of the product, Houzz Now also lists how soon can a pro be at your place, based on their current project + real-time traffic information. This can be extremely helpful to the user in planning their time.
Edit your original request: A user always has the flexibility to change his original request, and the results will be updated.
A place for the pro to impress the user. This piece is key in establishing the trust and assurance. User reviews help with assessment based on past experiences with other users Profile also acts a command center for the user, since they can take multiple actions on this page to move things forward.
Availability: With the help of centralized scheduling, a pro's daily availability is listed out on their profile, allowing users to quickly pick the slot that works for them. Alternatively, they can pick a later date as well. This experience can not only speed the process but also keeps the users in control.
Messaging is one of the most versatile channels for quick and productive communication. Its lightweight nature can help speed things up during the logistical phase and can provide instant connection to the other party. It also builds trust between user and pro and that can result in a long-term relationship, resulting in continued business opportunity.
All your projects in one place. It makes it easier for the user to focus on active projects. A project is automatically created as soon as a query is submitted to the platform. One less thing to manage for the user and pro. Every detail about a project is documented in the project card.
Project card also provides live updates of ETA of the pro, it is synced through centralized scheduling and linked to one of the mapping apps used by the pro to give real-time ETA. This helps user plan things better and reduces the need for constant follow up with the pro.
Houzz Now can be a great value add to the current Houzz eco-system. It not only opens up the platform for more direct and personal relations between the users and the pros but also advent the overall mission of Houzz. This can bring in some fresh growth with it as well long term engagement.