Reimagining Online Leasing

Winners of the 2016 AMA Houston Awards
Best Website & Most Improved Website
Poetic and Camden met at a late-night Mongo DB Meetup in Houston. That chance encounter evolved into a total reimagining of Camden’s shopping experience.
Camden Property Trust
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Real Estate
Data Discovery
Information Architecture
UI / UX Design
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The Story

With a workforce totaling nearly 1,800 employees, Camden Property Trust is a Houston-based real estate investment company owning and operating over 180 apartment communities. Their website was cluttered, outdated, and in dire need of a redesign., They took the conventional route of issuing an RFP to find the best agency in the country to take on this colossal project.

With many divisions and stakeholders involved, Kristy Simonette, the Senior Vice President of Strategic Services, Chief Information Officer knew that they needed an innovative approach to re-organize their digital presence. Right around the same time, Philip Meyer, Camden's Manager of Innovation, met one of our developers at a MongoDB Meetup and encouraged us to get involved in the selection process. Although Philip didn’t know about Poetic Systems previous to this chance encounter, he was intrigued by our user-focused design philosophy.

At first, Camden questioned if Poetic was too small to handle a project of this scope. We were nervous too. They could easily hire a global superstar agency to do the work for them. We knew that every web company in the country would die for an opportunity to work with a fast-forward thinking company like Camden, so we grabbed this opportunity by the horns. We were local, young, and hungry for a new challenge.

Research, Analysis, and User Stories

With a website riddled with outdated design and worse user experience, Camden was determined to make a change, and not an arbitrary one. With this spirit, we invaded Camden’s headquarters for three weeks and started collecting every relevant piece of data we could find. We measured and analyzed existing web content, Google analytics reports, ethnographic studies, you name it.

We set up a small team in Camden’s offices and immersed ourselves in the company and culture. We needed to be close to the people and information that mattered, and before long the data flowed. To understand their business processes, we visited different Camden apartment communities to see how leasing consultants approached prospective resident  and what a prospective resident tends to ask when shopping around for an apartment. We did competitor research and even visited a Camden competitors’ apartment community to observe their leasing process.

We listened to calls coming in to the Camden Contact Center and soon came to realize that each call responder was spending around 30 minutes a day troubleshooting the website and answering questions such as, "What's the pet and parking policy?"

We aimed to make sense of this mountain of data by transforming our analysis into more than 50 user stories. Together, these stories helped us humanize the data and told the narrative of Camden’s new design. As we created design solutions for each story, we developed a clear understanding of the features that were most important for a seamless user experience.

1. Colored labels cluster user groups

2. Acceptance Criteria:
• Must be able to see two bedroom floorplans.• Must be able to see if apartment has separate bathrooms.
• Must be able to see if bedrooms share a wall.

3. Design Solutions:
• Floor plan bedroom filters
• Clearly distinguish one bathroom floor plan from two bathroom floor plans

Wireframing and Design

Our design solutions gave us the ability to map out how the site would be laid out and the UX behind the designs. One of our biggest discoveries was that 38% of all users came to the Camden site through a Google Search, which was the number one point of entry to the website. So we started strategizing design solutions from that path, and examined the funnel from there.

The data showed that 98% of homepage traffic was dedicated to prospects, while only  1% was represented by investors. As a result, 98% of the viewport on the homepage redesign was built for prospects, while investors took a back seat.

That was shocking for Camden, and difficult for some of the senior managers to come to terms with placing a lower priority of investor-related content on the home page. After many conversations communicating our findings to the executive team , we agreed that we had to pinpoint target users, which would require us to remove features that visitors ignored in order to create a frictionless user experience.

After daily meetings and an aggressive timeline, we transformed our wireframes into responsive, high-fidelity mockups. The process was iterative—we worked alongside Camden to make sure the experience was as simple as possible, but no simpler. We had a blast. The project was ambitious. Start to finish, we had three weeks to submit pixel-perfect site designs for desktop, tablet, and mobile. We delivered with one day to spare.

Understanding the Camden Customer Journey

We used card-based layouts as a central UX element. These easily-digestible cards are packed with valuable information, and are the optimal choice for organizing large amounts of content. Not to mention, these containers are very responsive and can easily adjust to new screen dimensions.

“You are a joy to work with and I know that I speak for everyone here at Camden – we are so impressed with the quality and quantity of your work!”

Senior Vice President Strategic Services & CIO

Back to the data

When we began this project, we were eager to track how reinventing an online apartment shopping  process would affect the user experience. Our process starts with data, so it's only fitting that it ends with data. We're thrilled to share our findings from Google Analytics, 6 months post launch.

Bounce Rate


Avg. Session Duration


The story doesn't end there.

The Camden team was impressed with our design so much that they wanted us to do it again. This time, with their corporate site. We embraced the next engagement with open arms, and with the same user story and data-driven process.
Developing a culture of growing together.
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