For this project I worked on a team with two other designers. I helped conduct surveys and perform user interviews. I assisted in creating the persona, user story maps, user flows, wireframes, and lo-fidelity prototypes. Lastly, I designed high fidelity frames and an interactive, high-fidelity prototype
For this project, we addressed the issue of finding and keeping a good roommate. Young adults are getting married later than ever (average age is now 28 compared to 24 in 1990), therefore there are a growing number of them looking for roommates to live with. Our group's goal is to help these young adults in their process of finding and keeping good roommates.
Our approach to this problem started with a comparative market analysis of existing solutions. We discovered that there were already a few applications that helped users find roommates. We wanted to know how well these applications were being received, so we sent out a survey to our young adult friends inquiring if they had used them. The results showed less than 1% of people had used a roommate finding solution. Instead most people preferred finding roommates through friends or classified ads.
Based on this data, we decided creating a 'roommate finding application' was not the most effective approach. 99% of young adults used established methods to find roommates, while only 1% used newer software solutions. Therefore we found it unlikely that users would prefer using our solution over these already established ones.
However, through continued research, we found there were not many solutions targeted at solving the problem of sustaining good relationships with roommates. As a result, we were interested in discovering a solution for this issue, and if our proposed solution could be successful in the real world
Our research process for this for this project consisted of user surveys and one-on-one interviews. We targeted our research towards understanding what makes a good roommate experience. First, we created a five question, multiple-choice survey to help us gather specific data concerning these issues. In the survey, we asked questions such as “Think of your worst roommate experiences, what factors made it a negative experience?” and “Have you ever had a set list of house rules? If so, did it contribute to a more positive living experience?”
Based on these questions we found:
From this data, we concluded that a roommate experience would improve by communicating expectations regarding the respect of property, house cleanliness, and house rules.
Our decision to focus on the issue of sustaining roommate relationships was confirmed as we interviewed homeowners who rented out their extra rooms. During these interviews homeowners commented with thoughts such as these:
"We have a loose set of house rules. More clearly defined house rules would have helped a lot more, I think"
"The thing that really bothered me about my roommate was that he didn’t seem to have much respect for the common spaces. He was always doing things or making changes (re-decorating) without asking the rest of the roommates.”
"He would invite a bunch of people over (that no one knew) at odd hours — and without telling any of us.”
Additionally, most homeowners commented that cleanliness was an issue with one or multiple of their previous roommates. One even had to kick out their previous roommate because of the overwhelming stench. From these interviews, we discovered there was no current solution to help property owners manage roommate relations. However, they consistently talked about how it would be useful to have these solutions. We felt that if property managers had the right tools, they could effectively mediate better roomate relations.
At this point, we felt informed enough to know what direction we should head. We felt strongly that creating a solution for the property manager or homeowner would be the most effective. This led us to the creation of our persona, a young adult woman who is renting out extra space in her house that she recently purchased.
For the user story map, we focused on two primary goals; cultivating a positive living environment and easily managing renters' needs. We detailed what each page should contain, all the while checking to make sure these contents would help our persona achieve her goals. Based on our first goal, we added three features that we felt were important in cultivating a positive living environment: the ability to create and share house rules, a chores list, and a message board. For the second goal, easily managing renters' needs–we included a billing section to update monthly rent and place to view renter's info. Also, we added features for renters–including digital keys and ability to pay rent through the app.
We took the content provided in our user story map and made sketches for each of the screens. I took over the home page, house rules, chores list, and on-boarding sections. Compiling our wireframes, we created a functioning prototype to test.
Through user testing, test subjects gave us a unique perspective of our interface. The most significant change we made as a result of testing was to the home screen. Initially, we decided that putting a navigation bar at the bottom would be our main way to navigate in the app. This is a familiar pattern used in many applications, so we figured it would be easy for a new user to grasp. However, through testing we found that our users rarely, if ever, used the bottom navigation. Our home page already provided a pathway to every part of the app, and that is where users would first turn to navigate. Based on these results, we decided to take out the navigation bar to free up the bottom of the screen. This would allow us to place more valuable information in its place.From these changes, we created a kind of notebook interface where you can open up each section of the app from the home page. When you get to the connected page, everything is editable through cards. Therefore, you can always easily navigate back to home–all you have to do is press the back button in the top left corner.
This is where I took over completely in the designs. We each had an idea of how the interface would look, but I was assigned to create a high fidelity design that was uniquely my own. I decided to create an interface according to the iPhone X’s dimensions. I wanted to create a design that would use every inch of the screen. In addition, I wanted it to be colorful and inviting. I felt an app that is used between roommates should be delightful and fun–it shouldn’t have to be a burden. I wanted each interaction to show new layouts and colors, while also including easily digestable information.
Our research helped point out to us that the greatest need for renters was not in the process of finding a roommate, but in maintaining relationships with existing ones. Therefore, we decided on an approach to help users preserve and prolong their roommate relationships. However, because of time constraints and limited resources we weren’t able to completely verify our decided approach. In the future, I would like to gather more quantitative data to confirm that our proposed solution is effectively enhancing roommate relations.Another thing that I want to add is a distinct design for renters. The look of the design would be similar, but would instead include a home page that shows the most important items for the renter as opposed to the property manager. This could consist of a place pay bills, easy access to the message board, chores list, etc. Finally, in the next iteration, I plan to add a feature where property owners could easily and quickly post current room openings to popular sites (Facebook, Craigslist, etc). This would help alleviate the stress of finding replacement roommates.