Rise and Fall of ginja

Read the challenges faced while building the CRM to manage property listings.

How it all started?

During the early days of dubizzle, one of my initial tasks were to study how real estate agents used online CRMs and published their listings to property portals.

After several conversations with the agents, the team came to know that the current property CRMs were not quite usable.

When we managed to to do some competitor analysis, we saw that they had a huge cognitive load.

The Challenge

The team found this as an oppurtunity and thought of exploring the path.

Build a standalone product that can deliver a good experience and improve the way the agents do business.

Lesson 01 / 04 Prototyping saves the day

Interviewing users gave us many insights but nothing can beat a prototype. We had shown internally some initial wireframes using Hotgloo . The feedback from colleagues helped me to quickly get onto the visual designs. Early user-testings were done using Invision. During these sessions, we could see a sense of relief in the agents.

An outsourced development team was assigned to the project. With minimal branding, we managed to get some users to test the product.

We had an assumption that propery agents are always on the move to show properties to clients so we started with focusing on the mobile layouts of the product. But after the first session and also looking at Google Analytics, we can to know that there was very less mobile visits.

This was because the property listings was never managed by the real estate agents itself. Their secretaries used to do it from office. A great time-saving discovery for us.

LESSON 02/04 Serve the user where they're present
Mobile-first is a good discipline to follow when building products but not quite useful if the user only access the product from their desk.

We immediately stopped working on the mobile version and diverted our energy to building the desktop version. This was the same time when we were transferring the complete development to in-house.

Lesson 03 / 04 Always ship it

Due to the transfer in teams, there was quite a lot of house keeping to do. We became slow in shipping. This slowly started bringing down the momentum of the team. We even bought a landing page and released beause we didn't have the time to develop it.

Lesson 04 / 04 Clearing assumptions

We assumed tenants chose apartments by looking at the buildings and amenities. But in one of our user-testings, we found out that tenants always chose apartments based on communities. People in Dubai often looked out on what all the community can offer them (malls, shops, parks..etc) than a building.

In 'Add a listing'page, we asked for the building name because we thought the amenities provided is the key factor when choosing an apartment. After couple of tests and conversations, we realised that nearly all buildings has the same amenities and that's when we switched it to choosing communities in the beginning.

Bringing more clarity

What did this ginja solve?

ginja was quite usable and reduced the cognitive load which the competitor products had it in them. The real estate agents mentioned several times in interviews that they had to use them because of no choice. At dubizzle, we saw this an opportunity and decided that we can make something with a better experience.

Did this project see the daylight and why?

The project had a span of less than 2 years. It had gone through a soft launch and had some customers. Things got delayed. There was a lot of bugs towards the end and no team was assigned to fix it. Priorities changed and later the company had to sunset ginja.

Who did you work with?

Ahmed Al Gabri

Front-end Developer

Ara Hayrabedian

Backend Enginner

Conclusion

The road ahead was uneven. Over time, the company stopped investing in the project and we have to halt the development. The users started leaving and after many months, we have to sunset the product. But one of the best things I loved about this project was the accountability I had. I was responsible for looking into different areas of the product and see how design can help.
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