HomeFinder connects home buyers, sellers, and real estate professionals. They provide a platform for users to search for apartments, condos, and single family homes for rent; list properties for sale or rent; and real estate auctions listings search services.
Project Manager & Lead Interaction Designer
Team of 3 designers
We went through the following methods for our process:
For all the social and financial factors, cohabitation has become necessary, especially in urban centers where space is tight and rent is high. The client would like our team to explore what an online service might be like for finding compatible people and living arrangements.
While HomeFinder is a one-stop shop for home finding, they want to explore providing other services that leverages their investment in the network, infrastructure, and reach. One area of particular interest to them is home-sharing, which would open HomeFinder up to an entirely new demographic.
We spent the first few days trying to wrap our heads around the term “home-sharing”. Even in our team, we had differing opinions and ideas on the definition. Our research showed that we were not alone. The general consensus was that no one was familiar with the term, home-sharing, but assumed it had to do with living with roommates.
Exchange of housing between two unrelated people for mutual benefit in the home- similar to a business transaction. Typically, this looks like an older person with a spare room offering free or low-cost accommodation to another person (most likely in need of affordable housing) in exchange for an agreed upon level of support. This support can range from platonic companionship and assistance around the home e.g., housekeeping or meal preparation
Although I had a lot of experience with finding and living with roommates, I did not want to become the user. We conducted our user interviews and got the most feedback from young professionals. These are some of the key insights:
We conducted a competitive analysis on direct competitors we noted from the user research. We listed our key findings below.
Trulia is a trusted brand and modern platform for real estate. It’s in-depth information relating to the properties and branding towards suburban families distracts the feature that caters to finding room for rent.
Roomi is the millennials way to finding roommates. It’s simple design and illustrations makes a stressful process more casual and easy to use. You can send messages over the app and listings are verified.
Craigslist is a classified advertisements platform with sections devoted for anything and everything. I found the design to be outdated and not regulated which makes it difficult to be organized or easy to use. It is widely known for being unreliable and full of scams but users still go back to it for its familiarity and popularity.
We found most problems that came up in shared living situations were roommates relationships. Instead of starting your search by finding a room, we wanted to focus on finding compatible housemates.
Our goals for home-sharing:
The term “roommates” conjures up the image of college students and twenty-somethings cramming into an apartment. Research showed that more adults were opting to cohabitate for whatever reasons and there needed to be a service that fit their lifestyle and priorities. Home-sharing is a way to bring people together in a safe and stable way. In many communities, home-sharing is known for intergenerational home-sharing with a trade of services. I redefined “home-sharing” with a working definition that aligned with the stakeholders and users needs.
Redefine "homesharing" with a working definition that's aligned with the users needs
Exchange of housing between two unrelated people for mutual benefit in the home. The relationship would go beyond business transactions between roommates. They cultivate platonic relationships and communicate, typically, leading to long-lasting arrangements and friendships.
There are so many factors to consider when you’re looking for the ideal person to share your home with. And even if you find someone, it doesn’t last long before you have to start the process again of finding a new roommate. Not surprisingly, many people related to our persona and also wanted a better way to find someone to live with.
We believe that by designing an elevated experience while safely connecting with like-minded housemates, Stella will achieve the lifestyle and financial freedom she deserves.
Based on the Persona, we created a customer journey map to visually share Stella’s experience in getting a housemate.
These are some of the sketches from our design studio.
From the research, we defined the MVP addressing the users’ needs. I was responsible for the wireframes, these are some of the wireframes that that we used for testing the user flow.
I went over the wireframes with the stakeholders and I discovered gaps and where I needed to adjust. The Research Lead conducted user tests with the prototype. Based on the usability tests, these were some of the key findings.
We would continue user testing and iteration to further develop HomeFinder’s Homeshare service. We would like to develop an integrated chat feature for potential housemates to connect on and tools for a successful homeshare experience like guidelines for a homeshare agreement.
As a team we had different views on home-sharing. But the research and user interviews focused our direction and MVP. In this situation, the users were not familiar with the home-sharing concept. I focused our efforts on introducing and promoting the service. We decided to redefine home-sharing to reflect my findings. I learned that when the team has different perspectives and priorities, the best way to settle them is to refer to the user research.