Digital Forms

Digital Forms

A heavily used digital forms editor for the real estate industry gets a much needed makeover.

Product: Digital Forms by Instanet and eForms by zipForms | Project duration: 13 months
Roles: UX/UI Design and Direction, User Research, Component Library updates, On-boarding, Post-Launch Feedback

The new UI (left) vs the original (right).

The Problem:

The company needs to consolidate 2 different eForm tools: both with outdated tech stacks and unhelpful UI’s that leave users underwhelmed. Real estate boards pay big money to offer these eForm solutions to their agents. But most agents detest the disjointed and clumsy experience of using the existing eForm tools.

The Solution:

Get back in touch with our user’s highest priorities for eForms. Clear away the distractions, allow the user to focus on the task at hand, bring in related data to help them fill in the form faster, and introduce a modern UI. Conduct multiple rounds of user validation to ensure that the new UI works for various agents across the US and Canada.

The Plan:
  1. Conduct user discovery research. Focus on the agents’ (aka: the end user) needs; not their bosses, trainers, or board members. This will increase agent adoption.
  2. Perform competitive analysis on other eForm solutions, both in the real estate space and related fields. Identify any competitive weak spots or gaps in usability in their preferred solutions.
  3. Distill down the agent’s needs when filling out an eForm and figure out when and how their needs change as a deal progresses.
  4. Make it easy for them to get all the related information they need to get the eForm filled out in one place.
  5. Present UI mockups to users and iterate based on their feedback, stumbling points, points of praise, and “eureka” moments until we get a user satisfaction score of 7.5 +
  6. Build our flat mockups using our revised Design System (v3).
  7. Update our React component library with any new assets so other products can take advantage of them.
  8. Share our findings with the organization, including those in Marketing and Sales, so that the points of praise about the new design can be leveraged.
  9. Perform a “soft launch” with a select group of users to monitor their response and see if there are any stumbling points with the redesigned product.
  10. Before the official launch, embed Pendo into the new app so that:
    a) we can monitor usage, user paths, and “UI hotspots.”
    b) we can add on-boarding tips to the UI easily
    c) feedback forms can quickly be added and monitored by Product
Screenshot of data from our User Validation calls.
The Findings:
  1. Users are often filling out the same forms for their real estate deals over and over.
  2. User often need to fill out multiple eForms at once and don’t like having to fill them out and save and exit each time. These eForms get bundled, sent out all together and shouldn’t be treated as separate files. However, they often have to revise eForms and need to access the the edit mode again so that they don’t have to start from scratch each time.
  3. Based on available data, we can predict and suggest specific eForms they may need to use. Most users found this very helpful and clever time saver.
  4. Different users have different workflows, and a one-size-for-all approach won’t work. For example: some heavily use eSignature tools, some prefer to download and print; some have assistants, but most don’t; some only log in after they reach an agreement over email/phone/text, others live and die by the eForm system to capture everything.
  5. A good chunk of users rarely log in to the product (5 – 6 times a year) so it needs to be very self-explanatory. On the flip side, the high-earning agents log in constantly and don’t want to be bogged down by “fluff” and wizard-style walk throughs.
  6. Real estate boards are highly opinionated on how an agent should be guided through filling out a form to reduce human error, and most agents dread that approach. Agents want the freedom to start filling out a form and come back to it later. A good compromise was catching required fields before the eForms are sent out and prompting the agent to fix them.

UX/UI Design:

We originally designed and built this app with Helix 1. It’s currently undergoing a minor facelift to update its UI elements to Helix 2. Take a look at the latest version here. Or keep scrolling to see the Helix 1 version.

The End Results:

We launched a brand new eForms product in 2022 and noticed an immediate up-tick in the number of eForms being filled and sent out for eSignature. Based on in-product ratings, the new eForms tool was rated a 4.5 out of 5! Users were completing eForms faster and our support calls gradually started to diminish.

We swapped bulky toolbars and under-used tools for sleeker side tabs that held far more useful tools. Plus, the new UI gained prime vertical space back, so users can do what they came in to do: read and fill out forms. By introducing a combination of our own data and data pulled from the MLS into the UI, agents could breeze through their forms without needing to open additional browser tabs. (Another discovery we uncovered during user research.)

I hadn’t heard of [ZipForm’s Forms] before, but it’s even better than the system I had at Sotheby’s which was tailored to them.”

– Rosemary, real estate agent in California

We learned from observing users that they had a constant need to fill multiple forms at once, yet none of our competitors had thought to build that functionality into their apps. Allowing the users to pull multiple eForms and documents into one workspace, plus allowing them to drag and drop existing files from their real estate transaction, made completing complex paperwork infinitely quicker. This feature alone was highly praised by agents, as no one else in the real estate market offered similar functionality.

Goals We Met:
  1. Increase agent adoption and usage.
  2. Make eForms faster to fill out by leveraging better UX/UI and some Machine Learning.
  3. Modernize the UI and keep the UX consistent with our other new apps.
  4. Replace the original eForm tools in two different platforms with the new solution; thus reducing technical overhead and cost.
  5. Reduce support calls and time spent training users on how to use the company’s eForm tools.
  6. Change the minds of several larger real estate board clients from looking elsewhere for their eForm needs.
    These client accounts were worth several million each year.

Over 65 million eForms are completed each year across Canada, the US, and Mexico. The eForms tool is a module within Lone Wolf’s Transactions application. This app alone creates USD $38,000,000 revenue per year.

Praise for this Launch:

Lone Wolf’s ‘groundbreaking’ edition of zipForms Transactions

Lone Wolf forms editor – ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4 Stars)

— inman, Real Estate’s education destination

“Agents can now work faster than ever with all their documents, signings, and tools in one place while the technology provides suggestions along the way”

— Jimmy Kelly, CEO/president

Lone Wolf enhances deal making with digital forms overhaul: Tech Review

“Lone Wolf’s new forms editor for its zipForms edition of Transactions is a sleek, modernized method for quickly authoring and executing all the documents required to keep a deal moving from contract to close. It leverages automated document selection to speed the creation of common transaction packages, auto-populates data, allows for easy clause creation and editing and includes tools for marking-up forms. It also fully integrates with Authentisign.
Customers of Lone Wolf, or those considering switching to the enterprise-level technology provider, will be happy to see in this major overhaul all kinds of functionality to make it easier to manage transactions. But, it’s what lies beneath digital forms software that makes this category of proptech a must-have for any brokerage wanting to in any way appear customer-focused.”

— inman, Real Estate’s education destination