Compass Consumer Onboarding

Guiding home buyers through


Compass is part real-estate brokerage, part tech company. As a product design intern this past summer, I worked on consumer onboarding, a way of welcoming users who are beginning their home search, capturing their data, leading them through the features that are helpful for them, and using their data to customize their experience. I was the sole researcher, UX and visual designer.



New users looking to buy their first home. These buyers are usually affluent, relatively young, and tech-savy, but have little awareness of who Compass is, or how the home buying process works.



1. First time users are unaware of the available features and how they can aide in their home search. They need a fun way of starting their home-buying process and discovering these tools.

2. Compass real-estate agents need a method of capturing data from users, so that they can more efficiently help the user find the perfect home.


Onboarding Competitive Analysis

User & Agent Interviews

I interviewed both users and Compass agents to learn more about their needs and how they can both benefit from a consumer onboarding process. Here are some highlights:


"In the beginning of my home search, I didn't know certain apartment features were even available in New York. I wish I had been exposed to more options earlier on. I think I missed out on the fun discovery phase."

- Jonathan, 32, currently in the home-buying process


"I've never thought about having outdoor space before– Oh! Yes I want a garden!"

- Lorina, 28, while testing Trulia's Hammerfy 



"We try to get a sense of who the client is when we first meet them, so we can understand the best way to communicate with them. For example, I would talk to someone who works in finance differently than I would talk to an artist."

- Jillian, Compass agent


Main Takeaways 


Letting imagination do the work

In the interviews, people responded more positively to words describing a feature, over a photo or illustration. I suspect that this is because words allow the user to use their imagination to fill in the gaps. For example, when I showed the user a photo of an eat-in kitchen, a simple illustration of an eat-in kitchen, and a few words describing an eat-in kitchen, users were more drawn to text, because they were able to imagine they're ideal eat-in kitchen.

The dream state

During each interview, I asked the interviewee questions about their lifestyle and how they imagine themselves living in the future. This caused many to think–dream about their future life in a way they hadn't before. This dreaming of the future was extremely engaging for most people. I found that asking questions about their desired lifestyle was more effective than directly asking them what features they are looking for in a home.


User Personas: meet Jeff and Lydia

Jeff, a 34 year-old engineer, and Lydia, a 31 year-old graphic designer, are new parents. Coming from suburban New Jersey, the couple is looking to buy an apartment in New York for themselves and their one-year-old son, Nathan. Other than the general location, they don't have a clear idea of what they are looking for. 

This is their first time looking for a new home, so they don't know much about the buying process. They are excited, but a bit nervous to start their search. 


Compass's consumer onboarding experience will target first-time home buyers visiting for the first time. A series of fun lifestyle questions will collect preferences from the user, that will be used to curate a collection of homes just for them. The user can then be taken through different features of their collection, or browse the listings in their collection.


Mapping the Journey

There were a certain milestones that the experience had to fulfill: capturing data, creating a username and password, saving a collection, saving a search, and inviting collaborators. My next challenge was making the journey feel natural, and not like a step-by-step process. Below you'll find the final user flow.


User Flow


I experimented with different ways of capturing data from the user, ranging from Q & A style, to interactive graphs. A challenge was creating a fun and engaging experience, while insuring the user that their home search was being taken seriously. Originally, I planned for this experience to take place in a modal, and to keep the user on the search screen during the whole process. However, I later decided that the user would not stay in search, and therefore made the experience full screen, instead of in a modal. 



Final Product

Leading the user through the Compass tools

The user is prompted to save the collection by providing their email and creating a password. They are then guided through the first few steps of interacting with their collection, including saving a search, and inviting others. The walkthrough is noninvasive, so the user can opt-out if they choose, or view listings, and contact an agent at their leisure.


Collecting User preferences

From my conversations with users and agents, I was able to narrow down the most important data to collect from the user: price range, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, type of neighborhood they are interested in, importance of kitchen amenities, importance of family features, and importance of outdoor space. This data is collected a series of lifestyle questions. Depending on the user's answer, certain filters are turned on in their search. The search results are then presented to the user in the form of an unsaved collection. 


In the end

When the user has completed the full onboarding experience, they have:

been introduced to Compass

provided their email and password

provided data on their lifestyle that will go to their future agent

saved a collection of homes

saved their search terms

invited their search partners to collaborate

had fun taking steps towards finding their dream home