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Realized Digital Advice Tool



Research-driven UX Design

Time Frame

February 2020–July 2021


Lead UX Designer

Senior Researcher

What is the Realized Digital Advice Tool?
• The DAT is an MVP application that leverages third-party data, property risk scores, and scenario analysis to build investment portfolios and investment plans.
• Realized specializes in assisting their client to divest an investment property, investment planning including the deferral of capital gains taxes through a 1031 exchange.
• Registered Investment Advisors(RIA) and Analysts are the primary DAT personas.

Business Problem
• Develop an MVP that quickly optimizes 1031 Exchange portfolios and produces investment plans to review with clients.
• Increase portfolio diversification and potentially mitigate risk with optimized portfolios.
• Clients must follow IRS rules and regulations. They must identify one or more potential replacement properties within 45 days after the sale of their relinquished property.
• Simplify workflow and processes for Research Analysts & Sales with digital products.
• Positively impact annual equity flow for the firm and potentially increase velocity.

Lean User Experience Process
Declare Assumptions > Research & Feedback > Experiment > Develop an MVP

Design Process

Outcomes, Assumptions, Hypotheses — Design — Create MVP — Research & Learning

User Stories
As an Analyst, I need to create multiple optimized portfolios to use as a basis for investment planning.
As an Investment Director, I need multiple optimized portfolios to review with clients during investment planning.

Documenting Research
Personas, Flow Diagrams, Whiteboard Meeting Notes, Card Sorting, and Investment Plan Usability Research Report

Business Solution

Minimum Viable Product
Development of an initial design led to internal validation discussions, further review and user acceptance testing.

Realized Portfolio Optimizer and Manual Portfolio Builder

Optimized Investment Plan
The Investment Plan represented Realized's key customer-facing deliverable. During the research phase, we interviewed prospective customers and existing customers to improve the design layout and optimize the effectiveness of the plan.


As a team of one, working through a pandemic – managing end-to-end UX design work solo was a challenge. The opportunity was very exciting our 1031 Exchange Portfolio DAT software product was "new to the world" spanning three Real Estate, Investment, and Finance business sectors.

As Lead UX Designer, I opted to select Google Material Design as our design language system. Realized was still in the process of becoming a technology company.  Internal employees' ages ranged from 20's to 50's and without the support of a design team – it seemed pragmatic to use an established design system, rather than build one.

Learnings from the Investment Plan usability research were warmly accepted and the process was a worthwhile education for executives, unfamiliar with User Experience Design and Usability Research.

Direct access and collaboration with Analysts, Advisors, Executives, and other internal SMEs over Zoom calls was invaluable.
What Could Have Been Done Differently?
Our Product Development Team started small, with just three members. Chief Technology Officer, Senior Product Manager, and myself. Later, I had the opportunity to manage two talented junior designers.

I recognized the value of User Research and User Recruitment for Usability Testing. User Research allowed us to gain invaluable insights and ensure user-centric design decisions. An iterative design process, enabled us to adapt and improve rapidly.

While Realized is currently Sales and Marketing-driven, embracing a design-driven approach could have streamlined UAT and development.


The DAT remains the only investment analysis tool on the market today that enables real estate to be analyzed with the same sophistication as typical stock and bond-centric technology. Realized continues to leverage this technology internally to scale our portfolio construction processes, providing investment plans for their clients based on optimized performance metrics.

Since DAT product launch:
The Realized account management team supported over 600 client investments. 
Clients invested $396 million of equity, which has produced over $9.5 million in revenue.
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