From sticky notes to a clickable app prototype (and keynote presentation) in 72 hours

Each year HomeAway Software (HomeAway's enterprise software division for property managers) puts on RezFest, a conference for property managers. These customers are part of a segment that represents 40% of all HomeAway listings. I led a design sprint with 60+ of these customers during the conference and presented the results at the closing keynote.


Conference attendees presented to


Attendees of the design thinking workshop


High-fidelity screens designed in 48 hours

We were given the opportunity to be around hundreds of our best customers during a 3-day conference

We decided to take full advantage and lead a design thinking workshop at a conference for property managers (this segment made up 40% of all the listings on HomeAway).

We decided to use the Google Ventures design sprint format as a participatory event to show attendees how design can move rapidly and encourage quick production that can then be prototype tested. The end product would be something immensely useful to their business, and they would spend the week immersed in a best practice design sprint.

When faced with a huge group of opinionated people, how do you harness their energy and knowledge without the session devolving into utter chaos?

At the conference, we started our session by getting a sense of the attendees' businesses and their biggest issues.

Next, we asked people to brainstorm solutions—no feature, solution or concept was too out there. These became sticky notes and went up on the board.

We had the group vote on the most important problem to focus on during the design sprint.

The group brainstormed app feature ideas and voted on favorites.

We solicited attendees to think about all the problems they faced in their businesses, and to suggest features, ideas, and workflows that could help solve their problems.

No cinema displays, no wacom tablets—just a laptop and a ticking clock until our presentation at the closing keynote

After the session, we spent the next forty-eight hours designing.

The challenge was building a clickable prototype that would make sense to a group of tech-savvy property managers. I designed an app for a property management company's team of maintenance workers. This app would aggregate all the maintenance tasks for a given set of properties.

The app had to be logical and solve the dispatch and task management problem faced by our customers...

This app was built for maintenance workers at large vacation rental management companies. When they’re out in the field, the app would send them notifications in when new jobs were posted.

Opening the app would show them a list of tasks for the day.

Opening a task would give them access to the necessary information needed for them to act on the task, including details, property location, related cases, etc.

Once work on a given task was started, the maintenance specialist could “start” the task in the app. The app would track time and allow the specialist to complete the task or pass it off to a more specialized contractor.

The maintenance specialist would have a structured view of a task’s contextual information.

Once a specialist was finished with work, they could return to the main list screen to pick up other open or high-priority tasks.

...and we would get great feedback after presenting to 600 of our best customers.

We made our deadline, finished the screens and presentation, and delivered our solutions to two major business problems at the conference closing keynote address.

Postscript: I was later able to lead the design of this very product at TurnKey Vacation Rentals to great success.

In 2018 I was asked to solve this exact problem for TurnKey Vacation Rental's field and maintenance team. After interviews, research, and prototype validation, it turns out the app we had built in four days at the 2012 HomeAway conference was a near perfect analog to the solution we found at TurnKey. It was an amazing moment of validation and a realization that solving a problem that's "shovel-ready" for implementation can take days, not weeks or months. You just need the right people in the room and the right process.

Facilitation, hi-fi mockups, keynote presentation

CompanyHomeAway SoftwareYear2015RoleLed workshop, design of high-fidelity screens, and presentation during conference keynote

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