The backstory

When I joined PriceHubble, my mission was to develop the user experience strategy in order to further improve our design in a more user-centric way. 

PriceHubble is a PropTech company that helps B2B customers to make real estate decisions based on data driven technology. Practically that means that we offer real estate valuations and innovative object insights to companies such as realtors, banks or property managers in order to improve their business. 

Some of our clients also interact with end customers. This means that we have two types of users: the B2B customers who use our solutions as mentioned above as well as their customers, the B2B2C users,  who use our reports in the form of digital dossiers or PDF exports. So our goal is to build products to satisfy both kinds of users.  

In the beginning, we were thinking of introducing one of the following frameworks I have in my experience toolkit: Personas or Jobs-to-be-done. After consideration, it felt like Personas would be a better way to go, because Jobs-to-be-done is normally used for more complex products - but our product should be a more convenient one. 

We talked to our Sales team and other stakeholders, and concluded that at that time, these were our main personas: Real Estate Agents and Mortgage Specialists. These clients engage regularly with House Owners and House Buyers.

After having completed the relevant research, the first Personas were born. We called them: Reto, Ben, Louise and Iseli. For a while we used them successfully. We printed the Personas posters, we got developers onboard, we did storytelling using Reto and Iseli before every new feature. 

The first hurdle

When our product offer gained a bigger focus on Property Management, there were new Personas coming. We sat down and counted “the new heads”. We ended up with nine B2B Personas, and three B2B2C Personas, overall twelve in total! This seemed an overkill to maintain. And that’s how The Hubblers were born. 

Archetypes instead of personas

So what are The Hubblers? Basically, I’d say it’s a mix between Jobs-to-be-done and Personas. Instead of focusing on individual users we grouped them by common patterns. As a consequence, we were able to diverge three main user groups we called archetypes:

The Explorer: 

Customer groups who are looking for investment, land, trends and opportunities in the neighbourhood — so basically these are the users who explore. We named them The Explorer. Property Developers from B2B and Private Investors from B2B2C fell into this category.

The Optimizer: 

Customer groups who want graphs and analyses for rent optimization, property value tracking and those who would like to see an overview for their portfolio value. We named them The Optimizer. B2B2C users are House Owners and House Sellers. The B2B  users are Property Managers, Portfolio Managers Asset Managers and Social Housing Players.

The Advisor: 

A B2B customer group which deals with acquiring and retaining their customers. So, topics like lead acquisition, customer retention, up-sell are interesting for them. We named them The Advisor. Real Estate Agents, Mortgage brokers, Wealth managers are examples of that. 

Now, one may argue that we could have just made three vaster personas, but the thing is that our users are company clients and their clients as well. Those users have slightly different needs and require different product tonalities, but at the same time they a common objective  —  they search for investment opportunities.

Benefits of using a mix-and-match framework and creating user archetypes:

  • - The approach can scale internationally, that's probably the most important one. 

  • - Helps us maintain our vision and strategy in a more focused way. We can add more products, but we want them to be around these three paths.

  • - We can use The Hubblers just as any other demographic group for Marketing purposes 

  • - We used The Hubblers to create a structure for our new website

  • - We reformed our development teams to serve the needs and build features, based on these archetypes

  • - And last but not least, as with any other user-centric framework, we want to employ The Hubblers before creating any new feature, to see how it maps with this customer group needs

The conclusion here is  that the approach of looking at the main flows in our digital software solutions was key and much more scalable as pure personas.  Next to it we learned a lot within the process, about our customers and us, in the sense of working processes, solutions and consistency.