Project overview

How to make touring faster and more accessible

When I joined the team, Zillow just began entering a new business modal which follows the ibuying space of buying and selling homes. Unlike the traditional agent connections and ad business, Zillow as a homeowner changes the experience of how you can buy and sell homes.

My role

My role on the team included working closely with developers to build out the unlocking experience for accessing the home. This project consisted of analyzing researching, wire-farming, designing, and prototyping. Being the only designer on the team, I was challenged to be the driving voice for user needs and balancing the relationship with project short-term needs and building towards a vision.


  1. Unlock flow
  2. Onboarding flow
  3. 2 step authentication
  4. Wireframes
  5. Custom illustrations
  6. Human centered copy
  7. North star strategic planning for touring at Zillow


My first step in this project was to understand the targeted users of the service, the business initiative, the tech space and most importantly the concept validation. There was a research team that conducted foundational research around the concept of touring completely unassisted. There I found a great start in understanding the space. From the foundational research, I had some initial questions I needed to seek answers to: 

Why is Zillow pursuing it?

Who are the targeted users?

Are customers interested?

What value do they find in it?

Discovering answers

I read through briefs, additional research, and talked to the product manager to seek answers.

Why is Zillow pursuing this

After doing some thinking around the foundational research, I wanted to check in with the project manager to understand the business needs. Overall, the business wants to sell homes faster. Ideally, Zillow can sell homes in 30 days or less. Zillow is more likely to do so if a high volume of people visit. Self-tour solves getting a large number of people into the home at a regularly.

Who is the customer base

Beth the home buyer


  • These young movers are starting to embark on big life milestones and create a family, and are looking for a home to do that in.
  • Wants to get an idea of the home and neighborhood they should live in.
  • Plans to move in next 6 months


  • First time home buyer
  • Uses Technology to research big purchases
  • Prefers friend recommendations over Agents
  • See's an average of 4 homes before purchase
I recognized the user base uses Zillow mainly as a searching mechanism and therefore may find it difficult or confusing to use Zillow technology in a new way. So I determined a key enabler is shifting the mental model for how Zillow can play a part in the home shopping journey.

Are customer interested?

The research shows, interest is high in what appeared as a new idea to most users, mainly because buyers gravitate toward having the first look at a home alone. Some shoppers had experience with lock boxes related to that experience in the study.  

60% of customers where interested in touring unassisted
Unassisted touring appeals to home shoppers and will encourage her to view more homes as a barrier to entry is lowered.

The technology

I found understanding the technology powering the digital experience was important in crafting the designs. There is a a hub in the home that connects to a users device in a 50 meter range. Once a phone is in range the hub is connected to the lock on the door and the phone sends a signal to the hub which then sends a signal to the lock to unlock. Having a device in the home allows for faster and more reliable connection to phone devices.


After looking though all the research and understanding the business and potential user needs I collaborated with product and research to define the user journey. We mapped out the entry points and tasks the users would complete to successfully unlock a door. It brought up a few edge cases as well as multiple entry points.  

Solution testing

There was no awareness or marketing conducted to educate shoppers on this new tour experience. Therefore I felt it was important to test users' first time experience discovering self-tour homes. I also made an assumption most users have no mental model for tapping a button in an app that then opens a door. I worked with researchers to test the reactions to first-time discovery and onboarding experience.

20 participants

Wireframes onboarding flow


The onboarding was extremely important not only to introduce the experience but helped customers prep for their tour. Most also found delight in the value proposition. We further suggest to product mangers to have this feature introduce in other Zillow touch points including a landing page and marketing materials.

  • At first glance over 55% thought "Self tour" was a virtual 3D experience
  • Most participants found the idea new and revolutionary
  • A third found confusion if this was a private or open tour
"I can just walk inside?"
-Participant 7
"Unlock the door with my phone, wow that's cool!"
-Participant 3

Driving considerations for designs

After mapping out the user journey and understanding the targeted user group, I worked with product to define the key drivers and considerations we needed in this shipment.

User must haves

  1. An way to set users expectations to a new mental models of touring
  2. Communication around safety and who's in the home
  3. Signs in and outside they home to help further explain how to enter and exist the home

User nice to haves

  1. Sounds and interaction optics that enhance the Unlock experience
  2. A mechanism that notifies shoppers when someone new enters the home

Business must haves

  1. A way to verify who's in the home (Zillow owns the property)
  2. A connections point for interested home buyers
  3. A quick and easy experience in accessing the home (both user and business goal)
  4. Increase in overall tour activity (metric)


When approaching the designs I planned out the flow and worked with engineering to think through all the edge case and error states. When looking at components I referred to the design systems at Zillow. Designing consisted of visual design, product thinking, interaction design and illustrations.


Colors based off branding style guide. We use a common blue to drive user action so all main CTAs have should use it. Red is only used to communicate error state or get users attention. The secondary colors help to creating dynamic illustrations. For background and text we use variations of grey.

Key moments in user experience


For shoppers interested in touring at a high rate they can see nearby open homes available. I worked with the search and maps team to work out a more discoverable design. Once a home buyer finds a home they can see details on the house and a prominent CTA to Self tour, from there the onboarding starts. There are are a lot of connections made with those CTAs at the bottom of the screen, it was important for me to work with other product teams to understand other business needs.


The goal of onbarding is to introduce and set user expectations on a new experience in touring. Based on research we know customers are interested, but for them to find it most exciting they have to understand pretty quickly that this is not a 3D tour. I worked with a copy writer to think through these goals and iterated on various options.

Introduce Self tour and it's validated value

  • Come on by
  • Open from 6am- 8pm
  • Tour this house on your own schedule. Be sure to say “Hi” if you see other shoppers while you tour.

Introduce Self tour and it's validated value

  • It’s easy. Unlock the door with your phone.
  • Once you tap ‘Unlock’ in the app, your phone will connect to the door and voila!
  • Access to your phone's location is required for Zillow to unlock the door remotely.

Introduce Self tour and it's validated value

  • Let’s get you verified.
  • Please answer the following questions. All visitors must be verified before entering a Zillow home.


The illustrations play a big role in education within the onboarding series. It helps drive clarity when users pay short attention to the actual copy.

  1. Overall experience and value proposition with a range of diverse customers
  2. Unlocking the door using a phone (not a lock box)
  3. Getting verified and being safe among other shoppers


Zillow has a business and security requirement to verify who is in a Zillow owned home. We used 2 step verification to confirm a users device and account. The feature also requires location services to be turned on. We want these moments to feel straight forward and transparent.

Users are asked to turn location services on during onboarding, once onboarding is completed they are asked to be verified.

Welcome screen

After a user onboards and is verified. They will be welcomed to unlock the door. This acts as the main home screen to enter any Zillow owned home. The home screen is based on your location.


The metrics

Homes that offer self tour see a faster sale rate reducing days on market by 10 days. This was the foremost business goal, so we validated this assumption and make plans to scale this project to more homes.

The project

This project was a great opportunity to learn more about bluetooth technology and geo-fencing. While the tech is super powerful, from a user perspective it was important to be transparent when presenting location permissions. I also began working on the overall touring vision at Zillow. Through this project, I realized how important touring is in the home buying journey. Zillow has a great opportunity to provide an experience in this area.

4 months
1 designer
12 developers
1 PM
1 copy writer
Design system
ios & andriod