In addition, understanding what the limitation of the current technology and its dependencies meant as well as what opportunities Elastic Search was going to bring us was something we had to keep an eye on.
Designing & protoyping
We worked in a small core team of 4 people (two developers and and two designers) and that allowed us to move fast and iteratively. Hence, meanwhile at design we were dealing with understanding the issues and conceptualising solutions, development was taking a chance testing the new technology and prototyping our first concepts and ideas to ensure viability.
From a early stage, then, we worked with real-data and real-code prototypes that allowed us to keep or discard solutions much easily than if we used prototyping tools (the interaction complexity on maps is not something that could be easily tested using Invision, Flinto, Principle or similars).
On our side, we were building sketches on whiteboard or paper (involving mostly me and Daniel, the other UX designer, but also the developers in some cases) while parallelly exploring visualisations and flows over Sketch.
One of the main headaches we faced was showing multiples properties in the same exact location. When testing we saw that showing numbers in pins could be interpreted in very different ways (relevance, bedrooms, etc.) so we had to work out how to represent this using a different pin.
Density was another interesting one. From a technical point of view, showing more than 300 pins was not possible, so we experimented on how to show density maps both conceptually and development-wise.
To these ones we have to add the space problem when facing a map application on a mobile device as well as the theme of navigation interactions: from the rest of the site to maps and vice versa but also within the maps tool itself.
After iterating the designs with the insights from the user testing and internal design discussions I refined the design and put into view all the different states of it for the different viewports and devices.