A digital makeover for Italian real estate group Gruppo Toscano

30
January 2024

A major overhaul of Gruppo Toscano’s digital product TPlat is well underway, with Belka contributing UX design, user research and a new UI kit, vital to speeding up development in the future.

A key resource used by over 800 real estate agents to manage property listings, TPlat was originally created in 2014 by Gruppo Toscano's own developers.

Built using jQuery, the app had become increasingly difficult to maintain, and after 7 years of faithful service, Gruppo Toscano decided that migrating to a new tech stack was the best solution for the future development of the app. 

The project involves rethinking everything from TPlat’s code base to information architecture and design. Gruppo Toscano’s own developers are handling the technological side of the migration, with Belka providing UI/UX design and a library of standardized UX components.

In 2021, Gruppo Toscano set out to completely revamp TPlat.

Remodeling TPlat

“TPlat is a vital tool for our agents,” says Andrea Toscano, CEO. “We want to make sure that the app continues to serve them as well as possible, long into the future.”

We knew we needed to rebuild the whole app, so we decided to start by improving issues with usability and inconsistent UI that we’d been wanting to fix for a long time.”

Andrea Fortunato Toscano
CEO, Gruppo Toscano

The redesign included an overhaul of the app’s layout and key sections like the dashboard, navigation, and areas for news, posts, and budget management.

Sara Fazzini, Design Manager at Belka, has led the project. “We’re very happy that Gruppo Toscano called us before they started rebuilding. It’s much easier to address usability problems and fix inconsistencies in the design phase.”

The UI Kit

To speed up the design process and ensure a more unified user experience, we started by creating a standard UI Kit for TPlat.

TPlat had evolved organically over the years, as new features were added.

The user experience was starting to feel improvised, because we didn’t really have a process in place to direct the design decisions we were making. That was something we were eager to fix.

Pietro Montelatici
Head of Data and Innovation, Gruppo Toscano

“This library of design components will make it a lot easier for Gruppo Toscano’s product team to maintain the app and build new features, even long after our project is done,” says Sara Fazzini.

Happier and faster developers: standardizing the UI via components.

“Having a UI Kit will save a lot of time,” adds Sara. “And if Gruppo Toscano’s developers decide to build a full design system one day, they’ll definitely have a head start.”

Testing, Testing

User testing played an important role in the project, a first for Gruppo Toscano.

We started by looking at the existing product to understand what problems users were facing and what was working well. Later on, we tested the new design to make sure it was solving the problems for the actual end users.

“Developing new features is expensive,” says Luca d’Incà, Belka’s General Manager. “Using code as a design tool is not the best use of anyone’s resources. When you’re building something new it makes much more sense to test it on before you build.”

Sending UI designs only once to development by fast-prototyping and user testing.

Gruppo Toscano is currently rolling out the new designs, with initial feedback looking positive. “Our tech team is already benefiting from this project,” says Pietro Montelatici. “Now that our UI starts by designing components, developers are able to reuse them and possibly expand on those that have been already coded before.”

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