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CASE STUDY
HouseMonk approached us with a vision of easing the house hunting scene in the suburbs of Bengaluru. We provided the following solutions to them.
  • Branding
  • Web application
  • Intelligent House Hunting System based on Google Maps
  • Mobile website
  • Social Media Marketing Guidelines
Client
HouseMonk was an upcoming venture from the booming startup scene in Bengaluru. They ran an offline apartment rental platform for 4 months. After that they had just stepped into the online game and was looking to cash in on the increasing demand for reliable house hunting platforms in Bengaluru.
Problem
The online platform that HouseMonk had built couldn't connect with their target user base. It felt just like yet another property listing portal and had little to brand value in it. So they approached us seeking some design thinking to be done on their brand and also to improve the searching experience on their website.
Solution Overview
We broke down the solution into the following deliverables:
A brand image that could connect to the target base.
A website with a seamless experience of house hunting and scheduling visits.
Mobile responsiveness to cater the rising smartphone audience of the market. A well formulated content marketing guidelines for social media.
Resource Allocation
The following hats were worn by the team in order to get the project done.
1 Project Manager 1 Illustrator 1 Experience Designer 1 Front End Engineer 1 Social Media Strategist 1 Quality Analyst 2 Full Stack Developers
SOLUTION
Even if the message is the same,
different mediums call for different solutions.
The eventual goal was to help the end users find the best possible matches with the least effort from them. But that did not mean that users getting to HouseMonk through desktop and mobile devices should be presented with the same tools and paths.
BRANDING
A brand that would connect to the tech savvy, young, energetic and confused population of Bengaluru. The brand connected with them emotionally so as to stand out from the crowd that was built in the market for this space. We came up with a jovial, geeky, calm Monk as a moscot for the brand and a fun logo with the monk.
WEB APPLICATION
A website that would enable the house hunters to shortlist a few choices that would suit them and schedule visits at an appropriate time for them. We emphasised on letting the users browse an apartment within the first minute that they started to explore a locality.
Once opted to browse an apartment, we made sure that they are presented with not only the details of the particular apartment, but they would also get a grip on how it would be like to live in the particular neighborhood.
MOBILE WEBSITE
A separate front end stack was developed for the mobile experience here, as not all the features in the web application were technically feasible to be provided in mobile devices. Also the mobile factor called for a range of further experience elements that were not needed in the web platform. Key preference was given in maintaining the lowest possible download sizes so as to not affect the user's data consumption too much.
mobile overview image for housemonk
The mobile pages were focussed on letting the users navigate the application seamlessly. Each screen was designed for a single main purpose and linked to other screens in a digestible way.
Impact
Aug 2014 Launch - Jan 2015
4x
Visits Scheduled
10x
Increase in social media activity such as likes, comments and mentions
1500+
Found their perfect home.
After running on the new brand and website for a year, HouseMonk gathered enough feedback from their user base and arrived on the following decisions:
User Retention
With the current model, user retention was not that feasible, since they had little to offer them once the users have selected their apartment.
Continued Support
There was an increasing need for their own and other users in the market for support on services after the lease agreement was signed. And there was virtually no competition that could provide quality services to these users at a scale that HouseMonk was capable of.
Revenue Model
This pivot in the business model would also predictably result in a more rigid revenue model and a better product market fit.
Thus, HouseMonk decided to pivot after a year and has now rebranded and is operating under a different label. Eventhough we were a bit sad to let go of our Monk, we were happy for the client on finding their next challenge.
L8 N8 folks did a great job of creating a cult UX for our product, TheHouseMonk. At the time, a map based search UI was very new to the online real estate market, and the team envisioned and executed the product perfectly. They were always responsive when we reached out to them for maintenance and feature addition as well. I'd strongly recommend any company to work them.
wr client img
Ajay Kumar
Founder & CEO, TheHouseMonk
APPROACH
I think the biggest trap we, tend to fall into,
is assuming about the “they.”
Understanding the pain of the end user and crafting solutions that would complement them was the lifeline of our approach to this project. After each iteration we came back to this principle so as to not loose track of where we were.
  • Listen
  • Research & Market Study
  • Product conceptualization
  • System design & architecture
  • Design-Dev-Test Sprints
  • Testing & QA
  • Product Launch
  • Sustained Product Analysis
Listen
After being briefed on the initial problem statement from the client, we had a couple more rounds of conference calls with them, just to make sure that all of us were on the same page. It was just because we were doubtful of the swift way in which we could grasp their pain. We decided to spend some more time in this phase, just in case! We figured out that two pain points were the most pressing for attention:
Lack of proper methods by which the user could shortlist apartments.
Even though there were plenty of offerings around, most of them were not reliable and trustworthy.
Research & Market Study
Being in the tech space ourselves, our team had a lot of former colleagues who had moved to Bengaluru. It helped us to collect a pile of data from their experiences of house hunting in the city. We learnt a lot about the common hassles they faced and what drawbacks were there in the offerings from competitors in the same court.
Product conceptualization
There were two items that stood out in the output of this phase. The first was - how the brand of HouseMonk should make the users feel. We decided to go with something jovial, geeky and calm. The second one was - how to make the locality exploration seamless and informative through the website.
System design & architecture
A lot of thought was given to the control flow that the user will be required to follow in order to schedule a visit. The main goal was to reduce the decision making time required to select an apartment among the best options.
We made use of the rich data that was readily available from Google via their Maps Javascript API for representing each locality's flavor and drawbacks. This enabled us to tailor the suggestions to the users based on their demographic data. For example, with Google in our reach we could let office goers decide which localities would effect their daily commute the least.
Design-Dev-Test Sprints
The sprints were organized based on a classification of features done by the order in which they needed to be shipped. Since there was an already existing version out there, the first sprint consisted of a visual overhaul and the features were added on in subsequent sprints.
The branding part was kept separate from these sprints. We employed A/B testing on some features too, to get the idea of how it would pan out in the live market. The feedback from these were especially valuable to reduce decision making time for shortlisting apartments.
Another feature that spanned over multiple sprints and needed the design and dev teams to be on the same desk, was the locality browsing feature. A lot of experiments were done to see what could be achieved using the Google Maps API and a bit of data induction from our side too.
Testing & QA
Apart from the usual aspects, there were two major challenges in front of the Quality Analyst. One was to make the mobile experience as intuitive and flawless as possible. Optimisation was the buzzword around the lab for a few days then.
The other major task was to get the Google Maps Navigation system fine tuned. Our dev team put on their wiz hats and the result was a custom navigation system for Google Maps that we are planning to ship as a plugin.
Product Launch
As mentioned, since there was an already existing website the launch was not a button press as usual but a continuous process that spanned around 40 days. It was quite exciting to see the reactions from friends of HouseMonk and also from new users in their facebook and twitter feeds. Our branding team was proud to see the warm welcome that the 'Monk' received as well.
Sustained Product Analysis
The analytics setup was key in optimising the maps feature. The problems that could arise due to the reliability on Google Maps Javascript API was easily tracked beforehand due to the feedback loop we had built into the application. The heatmaps and keyword analytics also helped HouseMonk in order to figure out a bigger and comparatively easier market that they would later pivot to.

Interested to learn more on our process? Here is how we approached the problem step by step.

APPROACH
I think the biggest trap we, tend to fall into, is assuming about the “they.”
Understanding the pain of the end user and crafting solutions that would complement them was the lifeline of our approach to this project. After each iteration we came back to this principle so as to not loose track of where we were.
Listen
After being briefed on the initial problem statement from the client, we had a couple more rounds of conference calls with them, just to make sure that all of us were on the same page. It was just because we were doubtful of the swift way in which we could grasp their pain. We decided to spend some more time in this phase, just in case!
In this phase, we figured out that two pain points were the most pressing for attention:
Lack of proper methods by which the user could shortlist apartments.
Even though there were plenty of offerings around, most of them were not reliable and trustworthy.
Research & Market Study
Being in the tech space ourselves, our team had a lot of former colleagues who had moved to Bengaluru. It helped us to collect a pile of data from their experiences of house hunting in the city. We learnt a lot about the common hassles they faced and what drawbacks were there in the offerings from competitors in the same court.
Product conceptualization
There were two items that stood out in the output of this phase. The first was - how the brand of HouseMonk should make the users feel. We decided to go with something jovial, geeky and calm. The second one was - how to make the locality exploration seamless and informative through the website.
System design & architecture
A lot of thought was given to the control flow that the user will be required to follow in order to schedule a visit. The main goal was to reduce the decision making time required to select an apartment among the best options.
We made use of the rich data that was readily available from Google via their Maps Javascript API for representing each locality's flavor and drawbacks. This enabled us to tailor the suggestions to the users based on their demographic data. For example, with Google in our reach we could let office goers decide which localities would effect their daily commute the least.
Design-Dev-Test Sprints
The sprints were organized based on a classification of features done by the order in which they needed to be shipped. Since there was an already existing version out there, the first sprint consisted of a visual overhaul and the features were added on in subsequent sprints.
The branding part was kept separate from these sprints. We employed A/B testing on some features too, to get the idea of how it would pan out in the live market. The feedback from these were especially valuable to reduce decision making time for shortlisting apartments.
Another feature that spanned over multiple sprints and needed the design and dev teams to be on the same desk, was the locality browsing feature. A lot of experiments were done to see what could be achieved using the Google Maps API and a bit of data induction from our side too.
Testing & QA
Apart from the usual aspects, there were two major challenges in front of the Quality Analyst. One was to make the mobile experience as intuitive and flawless as possible. Optimisation was the buzzword around the lab for a few days then.
The other major task was to get the Google Maps Navigation system fine tuned. Our dev team put on their wiz hats and the result was a custom navigation system for Google Maps that we are planning to ship as a plugin.
Product Launch
As mentioned, since there was an already existing website the launch was not a button press as usual but a continuous process that spanned around 40 days. It was quite exciting to see the reactions from friends of HouseMonk and also from new users in their facebook and twitter feeds. Our branding team was proud to see the warm welcome that the 'Monk' received as well.
Sustained Product Analysis
The analytics setup was key in optimising the maps feature. The problems that could arise due to the reliability on Google Maps Javascript API was easily tracked beforehand due to the feedback loop we had built into the application. The heatmaps and keyword analytics also helped HouseMonk in order to figure out a bigger and comparatively easier market that they would later pivot to.
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