Helping a Startup Dominate a Market through Digital Transformation

Surely by now we’ve all read, “Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.” Indeed, there’s a battle to dominate the customer interface, and more specifically digital marketplaces where buyers and sellers connect. We help entrepreneurs fight this battle every day.

For instance, we’re helping PlanOmatic, one of world’s largest real estate photography companies, (which, in keeping with the aforementioned trend, has no photographers on staff), realize their digital transformation goals and dominate the real estate market.

Creating a Disruptive Digital Marketplace

While PlanOmatic has emerged as the de facto point of contact for real estate agents in need of photographers to shoot their listings and provide interactive floorplans, before we came into the picture agents had to place their orders over the phone. PlanOmatic had a building full of Denver-based customer experience specialists taking those orders, fulfilling them with photographers from their network. The process was time consuming, inefficient, and expensive. So PlanOmatic enlisted Spire to design and build their online ordering and scheduling system to dramatically reduce call volume — think Uber for real estate photography.

Leveraging Design Thinking

In crafting the system, which featured elegantly designed mobile and desktop interfaces, we started with user research. The driving question we sought to answer: What is most important to PlanOmatic’s clients in terms of features and feel?

We conducted over a dozen contextual inquiries with their team of customer experience specialists while they took orders on the phone to fully understand the nuances of the flow. We also engaged in qualitative and quantitative research with real estate agents to understand exactly what they needed from the ordering system experience and their current pain points. In addition to one on one interviews, we analyzed 1,000+ survey results to formulate our user experience recommendation, complete with a prioritized list of features. These features took the form of a user story catalog, which served as our single source of truth for the design effort.

In finding the best way to express features through design, we created and user-tested clickable prototypes in InVision. To eliminate hassle and extra noise from the ordering system, we implemented a simple, stepped ordering process, with a progress bar to indicate where you are in the flow. To delight users, we added PlanOmatic’s bright colors, playful icons, and conversational language to liven up the experience, reflecting their brand and mission. Adding a high five as a confirmation at the end of the flow gives users the light-hearted feeling of satisfaction, accomplishment and kudos. Through testing, users responded very well to the new simplified experience, saying it could get the job done quickly and effectively, but still felt the PlanOmatic spirit throughout.

Building Loyalty

Seeing the results of our initial work together, PlanOmatic has now enlisted Spire to support the business in a more holistic way, from product development to digital marketing consulting. It’s a request we often get from our clients: once we help them establish product market fit and build a scalable system, they then want our help to drive traffic and generate profitable conversions. And with the team we now have in place at Spire, we’re well positioned to make an impact.  

Everything is very clear as far as what’s possible, where we are along the project and the risks. They develop using an agile method so every week we know exactly where we are.

CEO, PlanOmatic


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