HomeFinder is a search engine for home seekers. They would like to innovate and push boundaries in the home search industry by focusing on the compatibility of home seekers to apartment communities and roommates.
TYPE OF PROJECT
Figma & Marvel
COMPETITOR USABILITY TESTS
Competitors lacked a sense of community
Since this was a new feature for HomeFinder, I completed a competitive analysis on Roomster, Roomi, Craigslist, and Facebook. I noticed that Roomi and Roomster were heavily focused on matching potential roommates, while Craigslist and Facebook was simply a way for home seekers to browse through listings of available homes.
Testing the competitor's product on target users
Matches was a new feature to HomeFinder, so I ran contextual inquiries on users with a focus roommate matching applications (Roomi and Roomster). Feedback from contextual inquiries included the following:
Detailed information about their potential roommate
An in app messaging feature
Clear understanding of what the application does
A variety of users, but a common theme
We started with a brief survey that we sent out to users on Reddit and other social media platforms. After reviewing the responses, we conducted initial interviews. There were a total of 10 participants representing a mixed variety of users that had experience looking for apartments and/or roommates.
What are some key factors you take into consideration when you want to share an experience?
Are there any apps/services you currently use that are community/shared-experience driven?
What motivates you to engage in a shared experience?
How could you interact with like-minded people to improve a mutual desired outcome?
Is it important for you to have a sense of community/support when looking for new opportunities?
Users value recommendations and community
One thing was clear, we had a lot of data, but that data helped us better understand who our user was. The team decided to take a pass at affinity mapping on our own using Miro, and came back together in the classroom to affinity map as a team. It was a grueling couple of hours, but it really helped us understand each other and most importantly understand what our users problems, wants, and needs were.
Prefer a convenient form of communication
Desire shared experiences
Value sense of community
Enjoys human interaction
"It is very important to have a sense of community in the apartment community that I live in."
"I need a roommate because I just graduated from college and the cost of living in Boston is high."
USER PERSONA & SCENARIO
Two personas in different phases of life
Throughout the user interviews and synthesis, we started to notice a distinct difference in users. One user was already established and didn't feel the desire to have a roommate, while the other relied on roommates for financial reasons. The one similarity between the two was a need for community, but their idea of community was slightly different.
Mike needs a way to connect to potential roommates, because he is budget conscious and values community.
Michelle needs a way to find a community that aligns to her lifestyle, because she values her life experiences.
By integrating an in depth lifestyle preference survey to the mobile app, the user will connect with compatible roommate(s) and/or communities.
Crazy 8's led us to our user flow
The team participated in a design studio, which helped us determine where we wanted to go with our designs. The design studio consisted of crazy 8's and critiques. From this information, we compiled a user flow that we used to plan out wireframes. I designed the login, sign up, roommate match, and compatibility page.
Confused? Yes, they were confused
This approach offered insight on how the user’s navigated the mobile app, and any pain points they experienced along the way. One of the issues that we had was the toggle at the top which went between roommates and locations, which was confusing to someone who was looking for a roommate. They didn’t understand why they had both matches available to them. This led to the decision of eliminating the toggle, and allowing each user to have their own customized screens based on what they were looking for.
Users felt confused when they saw the listings section when they were only looking for a roommate. We iterated a separate workflow for users who were only looking for roommates.
Roommate Search User Flow
Apartment Search User Flow
Remembering to stop and revisit research
Looking back, there were times in the design process that I wish we would have stopped and revisited the research. We focused on building out many screens, that the community integration was left until the end to complete. If we had more time, we would have developed the community section more to meet the needs of the user.
What I found enjoyment in...
There's a mixture of things I enjoyed about this project. It was my first group project in the immersive, and I enjoyed being the project manager. I enjoy creating the timeline of where we should be throughout the process. I also enjoyed using the research insights to create a mobile application to fit the needs of the user and client. I felt empathetic to both personas, and wanted to provide them a product that could simplify the process.