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Realized Marketplace and Digital Advice Tool



Research-driven UX Design

Time Frame

February 2020–March 2022


Lead UX Designer

Senior Researcher

What is the Realized Digital Advice Tool?

The DAT is an MVP application that integrated third-party data, property risk scores, and scenario analysis to build investment portfolios and investment plans for investors in the marketplace.

Realized specialized in helping their clients divest investment properties and plan investments, including deferring capital gains taxes through a 1031 exchange. Registered Investment Advisors (RIA) and Analysts were the primary personas.

Business Problem
We designed and engineered a minimum viable product to quickly optimize 1031 Exchange portfolios and create investment plans for consideration and discussion with clients. Our goal was to enhance portfolio diversification and minimize risk, while ensuring compliance with IRS rules, particularly the 45-day property replacement guideline.

Business requirements included streamlining workflows for key personas such as Research Analysts and members of our Sales team through digital tools, ultimately aiming to positively influence annual equity flow and increase operational speed. The MVP enhanced the Realized Marketplace with optimized portfolios, personalized investment plans and third-party data.

Design Process

Research Actions

We kicked off with defining outcomes, researching, forming hypotheses, then moved onto designing, prototyping, testing, and learning. Collaborative discussions were key in creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) that we could learn from.

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 Solutions

Realized Marketplace Redesign
In collaboration with the marketing, the Product Development team played a key role in refining the transition from the marketing site to a secure marketplace view. Ensuring a smooth and engaging journey for both prospective clients and accredited investors.
Investor Log In
Designed to welcome prospective clients, and accredited investors. Simplifying the verification and ensuring compliance with financial regulations.
Marketplace Offerings
Simplified presentation of investment opportunities with prominent filtering. Also, included robust information and due diligence details for transparency.
Offering Detail View
Provides comprehensive details on investments, including analysis and resources, making it easy for investors to make informed decisions.
How It Works
Outlined Realized's approach and services, simplifying complex investment processes with clear, step-by-step guidance for users.
Investment Plan Tab
Leveled up investor engagement with dynamic content in place of static PDFs, offering more interaction, and direct contact to their Investment Director.
Initial (empty) state for new customers awaiting Investment Director consultation for plan review.


As a solo designer navigating through a pandemic, managing end-to-end UX design work proved challenging. Despite the obstacles, the opportunity was exhilarating. Our software product was groundbreaking, delving into three key business sectors: Real Estate, Investment, and Finance.

In my role as Lead UX Designer, I made the strategic decision to adopt Material Design as our design language system. It became apparent that our company was still in the process of embracing technology and product development fully. With employees spanning various age groups from their twenties to fifties and lacking a dedicated design team, it seemed more practical to leverage an established design system rather than creating one from scratch.

The insights gathered from the Investment Plan research, usability testing, and interviews were well-received. The usability process served as a valuable educational tool for executives unfamiliar with User Experience Design and Usability Research. Direct access and collaboration, both in-person and via Zoom calls, with internal Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) such as Analysts, Advisors, Executives, and external consultants proved invaluable.

What could have been done differently?

Reflecting on our journey, one area that could have been approached differently was the composition of our Product Development Team, initially consisting of just three members: the Chief Technology Officer, Senior Product Manager, and myself. Later, I embraced the opportunity to lead and mentor two junior designers.

Recognizing the importance of User Research and Recruitment for Usability Testing, we gained invaluable insights that ensured our design decisions were user-centric. Additionally, adopting an iterative design and development process enabled us to swiftly adapt and enhance our product experience.

Although Realized was predominantly sales and marketing-driven, embracing a design-centric approach could have streamlined User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and accelerated the pace of product development.


The Realized DAT remains the sole investment analysis tool in the market capable of analyzing real estate with the same sophistication as traditional stock and bond-centric technology. Internally, Realized continues to leverage this technology to scale portfolio construction processes, offering clients investment plans based on optimized performance metrics.

Since the DAT product launch, as of March 2022:
• The Realized account management team supported over 600-client investments.
• Clients invested $396 million of equity, generating over $9.5 million in revenue.

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