case study

Origin Property Management

5 minutes
time to read
Web Design
UX/UI Design
09/20 to 02/21
An image of the first wireframe for the guide website
A portrait image of a condo living room.
The copy found on the Origin website's homepage.
Origin's web address, as displayed in an Iphone.

First, let's set the stage.

Servicing the demands of Canada’s largest city, Toronto’s real estate market brims with opportunity.

Well — that's  if  you can afford more than
one home.

An abstract illustration of a man, coloured orange.
An abstract illustration of a man, coloured black.
An abstract illustration of a man, coloured black.
An abstract illustration of a man, coloured black.
An abstract illustration of a man, coloured black.
According to the Canadian Housing Statistics Program, nearly one in five City of Toronto property owners own more than one home. This group is increasing with time.

For this group, an astute property purchase, homed by quality, rent paying tenants, will likely lead to profits down the road.

There is — however, a catch.

Multiple Home Owners (MHOs)—or from the tenant perspective, landlords — are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of their properties.

And for many MHOs — in being out of town or simply out of time, this is a burden best handled by someone else.

Which brings us to Origin.

Origin — a group of Toronto based entrepreneurs operating a professional cleaning business — looked to pivot and expand into the growing property management space.

In achieving this, they first looked to build their presence online. My job, was to help them do this.

Before getting into details, let's walk through my process.

I organized the expected work into four phases: Context, Content, Design, and Develop.

An image of the first wireframe for the guide website
An illustration of my process. Each phase blurring into the next; free to move back and forth when necessary.
phase one


To establish context, I needed to learn more about:

The business

If it were a person, how would it spend it's time? Where does it see itself a year from now? Who are its competitors?

the product

What would a successful site be? How would it help achieve business goals? How should visitors describe it?

the user

Who is the site for? What are their goals? What challenges do they face? Why should they care?

It was time for a chat.

I met with my client to talk through each question; taking careful note of every acronym and novel concept for future reference.

Still, this was just one perspective. "Others" had a stake —so what did they think?

Eager to answer, I looked public; reviewing competitor sites, customer reviews, and industry forums in order to complete a competitive analysis and empathy map.

Let's take a look at those.

An image of the first wireframe for the guide website
A screenshot of Origin's competitive analysis.
An image of the first wireframe for the guide website
What made an experience good or bad? What words, phrases, or expressions are used in describing it?
An image of the first wireframe for the guide website
An empathy map for Origin's users

So, what did I learn?

a first step

As its digital storefront, the site would help build credibility, educate visitors on offerings, and encourage prospective clients to reach out for more information.

UNmet needs

With several, established companies offering similar services within the market, authoritative messaging will likely prove ineffective.

Still, with most embracing a style of corporate and conservative, Origin could differentiate through its positioning.

That is, it could double down on its shortcomings. Framing small as personal. Freshness as eagerness.

profits & peace of mind

When working with property managers, minimal transparency, unmet expectations, and a lack of communication are cause for frustration; regardless of profits.

phase two


With the insights from phase one, it was time to draft the site’s copy.

Well, that's after we agreed on what it'd say.

Before writing, we had to define the site's topics, note how they'd relate to each other, and illustrate how they'd map to the site’s pages.

Further, mindful to its pivotal role in communicating position, we had to outline the messages and attributes our copy would convey.

An image of the first wireframe for the guide website
Origin's IA. Structured on the pattern of progressive disclosure, users would move through increasingly specific levels of information.

emphasize customer results

emphasize customer needs

emphasize customer pains

An illustration of Ilise Benun's three approaches to an Elevator Pitch as described in Designing Brand identity. Building on insights, I focused Origin's copy on customer results and pains.
An image of the first wireframe for the guide website
If Origin were a person, how would they sound?

It was time to write.

My client started us off with the first draft.

Then, I began to (re)write; meeting regularly with my client to collaborate; referencing Zinsser’s On Writing Well for mentorship.

And with time, the occasional disagreement on word choice, and several revisions —we felt our copy embodied Origin's brand, and could enable a good user experience.

The first version of the "We'll take care of it" section's paragraph copy. I asked, "could we be more concise? More approachable?"
The final version of the "We'll take care of it" section's paragraph text.
Much better.
phase three


As a first step, I presented to my client several sites which — in their use of colour, type, and imagery — reflected Origin's brand, and, when compared to competitor sites, stood out.

Noting likes and dislikes, I honed in on visual preferences; establishing “welcomed” constraints to guide design decisions.

Then, it was time to experiment.

I began adding hi-fidelity elements to wireframes; increasing their presence with each iteration; vetting them through a cycle of tweak, feedback and repeat.

And — 56 Figma frames later, I arrived at a design we were excited to move forward with.

An image of the first wireframe for the guide website
Screenshots from Origin's inspiration sites
On the left, one of the first wireframes. On the right, the mockup referenced during development.
One of the two logos that were considered for Origin's logo.
One of the two logos that were considered for Origin's logo.
The final logos. Of 29 survey responses, of those aged 45-60 (13 of 29), 70% preferred the chosen — option B. The median age for MHOs in Ontario is 56.
phase four


Ready for development, I transitioned from Figma to Webflow. Here, my frame would shift from static to dynamic; replacing questions of "what will it look like?" with "how will it move?"

A recording of the "How we can help" section at different breakpoints.

To find answers, I looked to Origin's inspiration sites. Browsing through, I asked — "to my clicks, swipes, hovers and scrolls — how does it respond? How does it feel? And would this feel right for Origin?"

Eventually, after hours (and by hours I mean weeks) of setting CSS styles, tweaking interactions, and testing responsiveness on any and every screen I could access —the site was ready to launch.




Reflecting on our goals; to create a differentiated, digital storefront that tastefully introduced Origin to MHOs — in my (admittedly biased) opinion, they were met.

And — trading conversions, clickstreams, and bounce rates for something a little more personal, I'll share this exchange between a site user (grey bubbles, we'll call him Zac) and my client (blue bubbles) as proof:

An image of the first wireframe for the guide website


Usually I'd end here. End with a high. That's good writing. That's good storytelling.

This study, however, began with the growth of Toronto MHOs, and —considering other trends irrelevant — carried on.

But — amidst calls of an affordability crisis —are they?

Some, would say that as homes are seen less as places to stay, and more as places to gain, middle income households are priced out the ownership market.

And others, that the rental market, where marginalized people find themselves overrepresented, becomes less, and less, affordable.

So I wonder. If this was more than a four-page website. If the stakes were bigger — the effects more impactful — would it have mattered?

Should it have?

Thanks for reading.

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