Few ways to develop user-centric software for real estate owners

Few ways to develop user-centric software for real estate owners
Published on March 30, 2020,07:30 am by Uriel Barillas for Forbes.com

In some types of businesses, especially B2C ones, it seems obvious that you’d want to engage your customers and invite them to be part of your journey. But if you’re developing software for real estate owners, does the same hold true?

We’d argue yes. When you listen to your customers’ concerns, give them a voice and ask for their engagement. This can help you create a better end product — one that really addresses people’s problems and makes their jobs easier. When you keep your users in mind every step of the way, you’ll create something truly valuable and helpful to the people you’re aiming to serve.

Here are a few ways to develop user-centric software for real estate owners.

1. Make It A Powerful Sidekick For Landlords

There’s no use for companies or business owners to invest in a software system that isn’t powerful enough to make their jobs significantly easier. It should be able to do tasks that are difficult, time-consuming or even impossible to do manually. It should contain a set of features that are truly useful to the users you’re targeting. Therefore, it should take into account how these people are currently doing things and make it easier for them.

For example, many real estate owners hold multiple properties within multiple companies. This is great for liability reasons but not so great when a bird’s-eye view of operating performance is needed. Traditionally, it’s necessary to laboriously gather and compare all profit-and-loss reports and make sure they line up before combining them. But with the right software solution, this task could be done in an instant.

2. Make It Truly Enjoyable To Use

While enjoyment is often sacrificed in the workplace, it doesn’t have to be that way. Not everything has to be black and white and boring. You should focus on making people’s jobs not only easier, but a bit more enjoyable! There are limitless possibilities available for developing software that is easy to use and still visually pleasing.

Creating a beautiful software program doesn’t mean you have to go overboard with color and graphics. It can be very simple and unobtrusive while still having a cohesive, aesthetically pleasing and up-to-date design.

3. Enable Efficiency In The Back Office

People are looking toward your software to make their job more efficient. But we’ve all used computer programs that aren’t as efficient as they could be. If something can be done with a single click of the button, then make it possible! It shouldn’t take 10 minutes of searching for a user to figure out how to do a simple process. And there should be enough features that the user doesn’t have to go to another source to calculate something that could be done in-app.

If you’ve built something that’s intended to be a one-stop shop for landlords to keep track of their properties and their tenants, the user will expect a wide range of functionality. They’ll want to see payments that are past due, leases that are set to expire soon, occupancy rates for their properties, maintenance requests and so on. If a user can easily enter or view all this information without having to search for it in multiple places, then it’ll help them work much more efficiently.

4. Foster Collaboration Within Teams and Partnerships

Most people want to feel like they’re a part of a team. There are lots of great apps out there that focus specifically on fostering teamwork. But collaboration and teamwork should be possible within your software, even if that’s not the main focus.

A real estate owner doesn’t just need to record and retain information about their properties — they need to be able to share this information with their team, lenders and partners. If one team member takes a call about a maintenance request, they should record the request in a place where it can be seen by other team members. If a lender needs to see up-to-date numbers, then it should be easy to share them in an accurate, easy-to-visualize format.

5. Be Inclusive Of Your Less-Tech-Savvy Users

Not everyone is a technology whiz. There are still people out there who struggle to even send emails. Real estate may have come a long way in recent years, but it still isn’t a field that is known for its tech savviness. There are lots of investors and real estate owners out there who are unfamiliar with (or even resistant to) new technologies.

There will be people who use your software day in and day out and others who only sign in every once in a while. Strive to make it useful for all these people, regardless of their familiarity with the software and with computers in general.