Where Real Estate Gets Its Dirt

This is a teenager

You gotta check this site out. Just start scrolling when you get to the site. Love this blending of storytelling, data analysis. I would love to see this type of data visualization be used when we talk about housing.

The Art of the CMA

So I wrote a book.  I’m self-publishing it. I’m getting some final feedback on the copy/content and finishing up the images, but in the next few weeks, we will be sending it to the printer.  So, I’m looking for some feedback.

But first, let me tell you a story.  I began writing the book almost two years ago.  One of my favorite artists is John Coltrane.  My son’s name is Cole, which was a compromise I made with my wife. Which should give you an idea of how much of a geek I am.

John Coltrane used to live in Long Island, NY.   MLS of Long Island (MLSLI) holds a tech fair every year in October and his house isn’t far from the hotel I stay in.  So each year I’ve driven by it.  There’s a plaque outside the house that memorializes it. It’s not Graceland or Paisley Park. It’s was just the humble home of a great artist.

For inspiration, I wrote the first words of my book outside that house.  Since then I’ve struggled, started, and stopped multiple times.  Then, last year I was attending a trade show on content marketing in Cleveland and ran into an old colleague/friend of mine, Charles Warnock.  I hired Charles years ago to run marketing at eNeighborhoods and now had a consulting business called Content Marketing Factory. We have been keeping in touch but had a chance to catch up with a couple of drinks at the conference.  Charles mentioned he was co-authoring a book on enterprise innovation and digital transformation. Immediately I told him I was working on a book too, and was having trouble completing it and staying focused.  He was excited by the idea of the book.  So I struck a deal with Charles and he has been invaluable in helping me get the book completed.

So I’ve been working with the graphic designers on my team to create the cover of the book. I’ve decided on a layout and now I’ve narrowed it down to 3 different versions of that layout. So I’m looking for feedback on these three final designs. That’s where you come in.

The name of my book is “The Art of the CMA”. I’ll write more about the concept and content of the book in a later blog post.

Design #1


This the basic layout.  I’m using Neutra (pronounced noy-tra) as the main font.  It’s named for a famous Architect, Richard Neutra. Neutra is used in a lot of signage. It’s the same font I used for our building signage at W+R Studios building and the original W&R Studios buttery soft t-shirts.  I like the fact that the font is tied to dwellings.  The public library in Huntington Beach was designed by him, right before he died and his son took over the project.

The green I use is the same green as Cloud CMA.  But I only mention Cloud CMA once in the book.

The sub-headline “Winning Listings by Mastering Real Estate’s Best Marketing Tool” isn’t final, but I haven’t come up with anything better.

And of course, the illustration is of a house, with a dollar sign symbolizing the value.

Design #2


In this version, we have added multiple colors to the line color of the illustration.  Like an artist’s palette.  The feedback I’ve heard so far is that it looks too close to a company logo during “Pride” month. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Design #3


Here the artist’s palette vibe and color are more prominent and we changed the color of some of the copy.

So there you have it.  I’ve created a quick poll that you can fill out below. Or write something in the comments or just send me an email. I’m beyond excited about this project and happy to have all of you share in its creation.

In case anybody asks…

Get it? ????

MRED launches new website

Midwest Real Estate Data launches new website

MREDLLC.com’s new look is thoughtfully organized, prioritizing easy access to the MLS and providing quick links to the extensive support and services available. Visitors will also enjoy prominently displayed access to training courses and rotating spotlights on new products in MRED’s ever-increasing list of helpful offerings for its customers.

“Our customers deserve the best, and that’s what we aim to provide in every aspect of what we do,” said MRED President/CEO Rebecca Jensen. “This website redesign was truly done with agents in mind to make their daily lives easier and we couldn’t be happier with the end result.”

They did a great job with this. The top nav was way too cluttered in the past and the whole site had a early 2000s feel to it. Another thing I wanted to highlight was their logo refresh. I’ve put the old and new logo together for comparison.

I think this was incredibly well done. They already had a recognizable logo, so really no need to create something brand new. Taking away the gradient and changing to font (Gotham) gave it a more modern feel. Plus the rounded corners to the star box give a hint of an “app”. Sometimes little things can make a big difference.

About that logo…

REALTOR® Brand Evolution: Updated April 11, 2018

“Since we announced the brand evolution and logo redesign, we have received a diversity of opinions that ranged from strong support to outright disapproval. Please know how much we appreciate member input and how seriously we take your feedback.

While the issues that drove this process to evaluate and ultimately evolve the REALTOR® logo still exist, we are pausing its implementation. This extra time will allow us to further examine the enhancement of the REALTOR® brand proposition, including the logo, which means so much to you and your business.

We are a member-centric organization and this decision to postpone the brand transformation demonstrates that your national association is listening.”

Personally I think NAR made the wrong call here. And I’m not talking about the logo itself. A lot of design is subjective. Some designs grow on you over time. There are always going to be haters, ignore them. Do what you do.

The Evolution of MLS Technology, Front End of Choice & Cloud MLX

Awhile back I was asked to give a presentation about the “history of MLS technology”, at a MLS strategic planning session. I spent a lot of time on it and I liked what I had put together. I’ve been using parts of that presentation, and how it fits in with W+R Studios’s “front end of choice” product, Cloud MLX.

The video is about 20 minutes long. It’s not too polished, I have a few flubs, some “umms” and “ahhhs”, but overall I think the video does a good job of showing our thinking about Cloud MLX.

I would love to get any feedback you might have. Enjoy.


Restaurant UI/UX

Maybe this is something that has already happen to you, but it was new to me.

Last night at dinner the waiter came by and asked a late arrival at our table, “Sparking or flat water, sir?” The guest answered, “Sparkling, please” and the waiter removed his glass and left the table. My assumption was he was going to get his glass filled. Almost as quickly as the glass was removed it was quickly replaced by another glass by someone else on the wait staff.

I thought it was a simple mistake, another waiter thought the glass was missing from the place setting. But then we noticed that the new glass had a slight tinge of blue. While others at the table (the ones who had requested flat water) had no color.

We quickly realized that from now on any member of the restaurant staff could fill each guests glass with the right type of water without asking.

How cool is that!

Zillow’s new Consumer Housing Trends Report is pure gold

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-8-39-04-amIf you’re like me I can’t wait to get NAR’s Survey of Buyer and Sellers and their annual Membership Profile. Swanepoel Trends Report is also a winner. All of these are huge for anyone creating products that will be used by buyers and sellers of real estate and any vendor selling to real estate agents.

But it looks like Zillow Group’s gone a couple order of magnitudes better.

Zillow Group just dropped it’s new Consumer Housing Trends Report. If you attended Inman Connect SF you got a sneak peak of some of the insights of the report by Amy Bohutinsky, COO of Zillow Group. I’ve just skimmed it but I can already tell its going to be gold for real estate vendors.

I can only imagine what this cost (in time, money and energy) to put this together. Once I get through it I’ll post what I think are some important points as it relates to designing better real estate software.

In the meantime, thanks Zillow!


At the recent Apple WWDC keynote they announced a few tweaks to the new watchOS 3. After a year of feedback the focus of these changes is about “glanceability”. By their definition the user had to get the information (usually coming from some sort of notification) of what they needed in about “2 seconds”. And keep in mind this information was being delivered on a display the size of a watch face.

2 seconds.

This made me think of the process we went through when designing the email listing alerts being delivered in Cloud Streams. Here’s what one looks like on a smart phone.

iphone New Streams Alert

Look and feel are important but design is also how it works. So deliverability and having a clear call to action on these types of notifications is also very important.

Now here’s a recent one from Matrix.

iphone Matrix Alert New

Is there a word for something that is the exact opposite as “glanceable”? And trust me, this is pretty on par with most MLS systems out there now. If you are running an MLS or brokerage and think your members/agent deserve better, drop Katie a line. She can help. : )

And it looks like the portals are paying attention to this glanceabilty issue as well. Trulia just recently updated the look and feel of their listing alerts.

iphone New Trulia Alert

Looks a bit familiar to my eyes, but I guess imitation is the best form of flattery. : )

But they did make an interesting design decision. If you were given the choice of having a bigger property photo, or a smaller photo of the property and a map, what would you choose?

For me? I like big property photos and I cannot lie.

Eater UI

I was poking around Eater today, looking at some restaurants in Portland for a trip I’m making next week. I really love the way they executed the UI in regard to location and restaurant.

As you scroll down on the restaurants (on the left) the map moves with you and the icon highlights. And of course if you jump click on any map icon the restaurant information jumps ahead. I’ve seen parts of this executed on other sites, but not this well.

Inspiration is everywhere.

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