Archive for October, 2009

Cloud CMA Logorama!

This is Part III in our “Does the world really need a new CMA program?” series in which we blog about the creation of our latest web application, Cloud CMA.

Cloud CMA Logorama!

We had a lot of fun last year when we asked readers to submit their ideas and give their opinion on logos for Dwellicious.

This year for Cloud CMA we were under a tighter schedule, so we didn’t publicly post the logo candidates we went through. But, since I got a lot of great feedback from our Dwellicious post I thought I would give you a quick walk through of our design process and selection of the final logo for Cloud CMA.

First, the name. For us, the word Cloud had 3 separate meanings/vibe.

The first is obvious: “Cloud” is synonymous with “the Web”, or “Internet”. One of our main goals with Cloud CMA was to augment MLS data with the best data/information from the Internet’s most popular real estate and community sites.

Our second inclination was to have a name that reflects a calming or blissful vibe. Something from nature. This would extend to the web application itself, something that is easy and maybe even a pleasure to use.

The third was a slightly arcane reference to one of our previous product names, “Lightning”, because where does Lightning come from anyway? A cloud!

Round 1

Below are the two design references that were first submitted.

R1 Version A

R1 Version A

R1 Version B

R1 Version B

I was immediately drawn to the B version of the logos. To me, the use of negative space that made the cloud was subtle (too subtle?), but also created a kind of “speaking bubble” effect as well, which I thought might add to the social nature of the application.
Both Dan and I hated the font.

The B version seemed too “sci-fi” to us. Some feedback we got from others we consulted said it looked like a logo from a pharmaceutical company.

Round 2

They added the “bar” to the “A”, but kept the stylized “M”, which was growing on us.

R2 Version A

R2 Version A

Round 2 Version B

Round 2 Version B

We were playing with the idea of calling the application Cloud CMA or Cloud CMA & Buyer Tour. In the end, we decided to drop the “& Buyer Tour” reference even though the application did more than just a CMA report. In this round we had asked our designer to add a “+” symbol to reflect that the CMA report did more, but as I mentioned we decided to drop the “+” altogether and just use Cloud CMA.

Also, we thought the green pea color was wrong and wanted to see what it looked like if the bottom was a sky blue, giving the effect the cloud was in the sky, not coming over the horizon.

Here’s what that looked like:

Round 2 Version C

Round 2 Version C

The effect made it look like “teeth”, so we scrapped it. We also settled on the “cloud” being over “CMA”, not centered on the whole phrase, “Cloud CMA”.

Round 3

In this round we focused on coming up with the correct color green for the patch of grass. We experimented with some other colors. (It’s pretty hard to see the differences on this screen capture). We also started to figure out how to incorporate the product slogan, which is, “Sales Are Looking Up!”.

Round 3 Version A

Round 4

R4 Version A

R4 Version A

We were pretty happy with the color green we chose, and the placement of the slogan. So, I sent the logo around to a few friends and colleagues to get further opinions. To my surprise, a few of them still saw “teeth”. Not good!

I thought more about it and suggested our designers come up with an asymmetrical cloud. We would lose the “talking bubble” effect and a bit of anchoring to the “M”, but I thought it would be worth another round of proofs.

The final logo.

By making the cloud asymmetrical we lost the “teeth” effect, and we knew we had a winner!


The funny thing about a logo is that the product starts to become more “real” when you give it an identity. Now the really hard part was about to begin….

Next up, UI, Oh My!!


The DNA of today’s CMA!

This is Part II in our “Does the world really need a new CMA program?” series in which we blog about the creation of our latest web application, Cloud CMA.

The DNA of today’s CMA!

You can’t have a conversation about the history of the CMA program, hell the history of real estate technology, without mentioning John & Jerra Morris.

John is one of the most, if not the most, interesting and smartest people I’ve ever met in my life. Jerra, John’s wife, is just about the most pleasant person on the planet. She is the perfect foil for John’s manic lifestyle.

Most people have never heard of J. Williams. They know John and Jerra’s next company Advanced Access.

Here’s some interesting things about John.

Vietnam Vet. Check.
Owned a restaurant/bar in Santa Monica, California. Check.
Raced sailboats (big ones). Check.
Top producing Realtor. Check.
Professional level racquetball player. Check
Flew hanglinders. Check.
Licensed airplane pilot. Check.
Licensed helicopter pilot. Check.
The best fucking salesman on the planet. CHECK!
Founder of J.Willams ( a company named after his wife’s father)
-creator of Sellmore CMA, ShowPro, and Easy Flyer and OneSource. -Check
Founder of Advanced Access – Check

So what does John do now?

He’s a race car driver of course!!! He also happens to owns a racetrack in Nevada too. Silly you, wasn’t that obvious???


John Morris

When I saw him last, he had a friend of his fly his new Cessna plane (John has a helicopter too) to pick me up in Las Vegas. We then flew to, and landed on, his racetrack. When we landed and I swear he looked many years younger than the last time I saw him which was a few years back.

Anyway, I could talk for hours about John. We met back, in the mid 90’s, because John wanted to include MLS photos in his Sellmore CMA program. This was pre-internet. At the time, Dan Woolley, one of my partners at IRIS had “hacked” Moore Data’s Compass MLS system and figured out how to access their photos. We made a simple script that would match the comps in Sellmore and dial in to the Compass MLS system, then grab and insert the respective MLS photos. This was a huge innovation at the time. No other CMA application could boast MLS photo integration, even if it was sort of a hack. John’s other innovation was the ability to add mapping. He had a license for Thomas Bros mapping application and quickly saw the potential especially for a Buyer Tour type report.

When I think of the biggest innovations of J. William’s Sellmore, ShowPro and EasyFlyer programs (“The System for Sucess Suite” -say that five times fast in a demo!) I have to say:

Content, layout and structure of the reports
MLS photo integration

My company, IRIS, ended up acquiring J. Williams’ assets and rewrote the System for Success Suite, which became the Lightning CMA Plus Suite. While the program was much more integrated and we did a deal with Rand McNally for nationwide coverage of mapping, the reports were essentially the same as the original Sellmore and ShowPro reports.

Fidelity, now LPS, ended up acquiring the Lightning CMA Plus products from HomeSeekers/Realigent. Dan and I ended up joining eNeighborhoods. That’s where the next innovation came.

Neighborhood Demographics
School Information
Recent Home Sales

Neighborhood demographics and school information was/is eNeighborhoods bread and butter. By “blending” this data with MLS data in to Buyer Tour reports we knew we had a winner. Plus the recent home sales data was pulled from county recorder offices so we even had FSBOs (non-MLS properties) for a more complete CMA.

But when you look at the rDesk CMA/Buyer Tour and eNeighborhoods CMA/BuyerTour you can see they are remarkably close in content, look, and feel to Lightning CMA Plus (Sellmore). If fact many other CMA programs have copied the old Sellmore content.

So you could say, that every CMA program out there has some of John Morris’ DNA. : )

So that’s the challenge. Dan and I feel like were fighting our own shadows. But as the saying goes; The only new stuff you’ll ever learn is history you haven’t read.

Next up, Cloud CMA logorama!


Does the world really need a new CMA application?

Yes. We think it does.

This is Part I in our “Does the world really need a new CMA program?” series in which we blog about the creation of our latest web application, Cloud CMA.

Anyone that knows Dan and I knows that we have had a history creating CMA software applications. In fact many of our friends were surprised when our new software company, W&R Studios, first launched Dwellicious, a social bookmarking site/tool for real estate, rather than a new CMA application.

Old Hat

Old Hat

To be honest both Dan and I had a “been there, done that” kind of feeling about building a new CMA application. But after successfully launching Dwellicious and Dwellicious Pro our thoughts came back to how we could really do something innovative and fresh with MLS data, APIs and the input and distribution of reports.

So in the next few weeks we are going to write about our process in creating this next generation CMA web application. We are already well under way. Some of you seen we have a name and logo already chosen at

We also want to talk about the history of CMA programs. Remember SuperCMA? How about J. Williams’ “System for Success Suite”? (Sellmore? ShowPro? EasyFlyer? Anyone, anyone?) I’ve heard there are still a few Lightning CMA Plus users out there.

We think it is also important to discuss how things have changed with MLS, listing data, the real estate market, and the web. A good CMA is a core application/tool for a real estate professional, so we think starting from there is a good idea.

We really have some great ideas about this new app. And it’s always a fun time creating something new. We both definitely have our head in the clouds! ; )