Earlier this year, Courtney Gaylord’s team had been tasked with a seemingly simple challenge: redesign her company’s customer-facing homepage.
Those customers include real estate agents, brokers, buyers, tenants, landlords and other professionals in the commercial real estate industry, who use the services of the company — named Crexi — to post, market and browse listings. With so many different types of users logging on, the company decided to personalize the homepage based on what it knew about each individual’s goals and motivations for using the site.
As a senior product designer, Gaylord works on Crexi’s search and discovery team, making sure buyers are able to find properties or spaces that match their needs, interact with brokers and tenant representatives and make informed decisions. Hers is just one of Crexi’s many cross-functional teams, meaning she works alongside product managers, researchers, marketers, salespeople, customer success representatives and data analysts. This cross-functional approach allows the team to move fast and maintain a high degree of agility as Crexi’s headcount continues to grow, and Gaylord said it has made her a “better, more knowledgeable designer.”
Working on Crexi’s new homepage, Gaylord helped conduct comprehensive user research, define goals, ideate on solutions, prototype a design, perform usability testing and iterate on design options to reach the best possible solution. To help us understand Crexi’s cross-functional approach in action, we asked her to explain how and why it paid off on this particular project.
Tell us about your team’s recent work on Crexi’s homepage. What were your goals with this project? What challenges did you anticipate ahead of time?
Because this was a big project that would reach a large audience, we approached it using the design sprint methodology. Our team consisted of people from product, research, marketing, sales, customer success and engineering. Our goal was to give new and current customers a more personalized experience, helping them navigate to parts of the site where they would immediately get the most value from our product.
This was our first ever fully remote design sprint, so I anticipated that being a challenge because we had to learn new tools (thanks Miro!), and new processes to get this done. However, it ended up being something really powerful — everything was documented electronically in real time, so everyone on the team had access when they needed it. This was key to coming up with a strong solution.
What advantages do cross-functional teams offer to your company’s work, and what communication strategies do you use to stay on the same page as colleagues with other areas of expertise?
I absolutely love working on cross-functional teams! A big part of making cross-functional teams work are strong chapters composed of others in the same profession in product. I’m a member of the product design chapter where we work together on our design system, hold design critiques and reviews, and teach each other about tools like Figma, UserTesting, Miro, JIRA and others.
Cross-functional teams allow you to leverage the knowledge of a variety of expertise quickly.”
Describe a challenge you encountered on the homepage project, and how you were able to overcome it as a team.
One of the biggest challenges was managing and incorporating business goals from different parts of the business and still coming up with a cohesive and comprehensive solution. However, at the end of the day I think having input from different parts of Crexi’s business is what made the solution so strong. In the user-centered design approach we use at Crexi, we take all of the potential solutions and then look to the customer — using interviews and user testing — to see what resonates and works best for them, and that is how we overcome differences.
How do you think this cross-functional experience has affected your own career?
It has allowed me to learn more about engineering, business needs, QA and so on, which in turn has made me a better, more knowledgeable designer. I can now anticipate opportunities and constraints, which allows me to design stronger solutions faster.
Would you recommend the implementation of cross-functional teams to leaders at other similarly sized technology companies?
Definitely! It is important to move quickly — get solutions out, and then iterate based on feedback and business needs as you continue to grow. Cross-functional teams allow you to leverage the knowledge of a variety of expertise quickly. I love sitting next to an engineer and watching how the code changes the site, and right then and there we can decide if that was the solution we were looking for and move forward. It really is magic!
This feature originally ran on Builtin LA and was produced in collaboration between the Builtin LA content team and CREXi.