HOMEFINDER

Redefining Homeshare

OVERVIEW

HomeFinder helps homes and people find each other

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.

ROLE & DURATION

Project Manager & Lead Interaction Designer
Team of 3 designers

2-week project

PROCESS

We went through the following methods for our process:

RESEARCH

ANALYSIS

DESIGN

ITERATION

CHALLENGE

HomeFinder wants to provide a service for finding compatible people and living arrangements

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.

RESEARCH

Almost 79 million U.S. adults live in some form of a shared household

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.

Definition

Homeshare [hohm-shair]

/verb/ home-shar-ing

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

USER INTERVIEWS

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:

COMPETITORS

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.

AFFINITY MAPPING

Homeshare is more than having a roommate and affordable housing

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:

  • Finding compatible people
  • Find people you can trust
  • Lead to longer rental terms, stability
DEFINE

Living in a house with strangers is like a rite of passage, something that everyone needed to do in order to learn how to live, and get along, with others

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
Redefining

Homeshare [hohm-shair]

/verb/ home-shar-ing

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.

PERSONA

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.

CUSTOMER JOURNEY MAP

Based on the Persona, we created a customer journey map to visually share Stella’s experience in getting a housemate.

SKETCHES

These are some of the sketches from our design studio.

WIREFRAMES

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.

Finding Compatible People

  1. Housemate profiles detailing their preferences
  2. With customized results by smart matching with user's preferences instead of houses
  3. Messaging system to communicate further with potential housemates

Finding People you can Trust

  1. Must create an account before previewing any housemate profiles
  2. Screen and vet users by uploading their government-issued ID
USABILITY TESTING

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.

  1. Home-sharing to be more clearly promoted
    With the feedback we received from the stakeholders, we promoted the home-share service on the homepage and included more links to the About Home-share page for further details.
  2. Emphasis on Identification Verification made the site more credible
  3. Be able to preview housemate profiles without creating an account
    The previous prototype had the user create or sign in to their account before being able to view any user profiles. This was to ensure the privacy and security for users. But we got feedback about not wanting to give up their email before seeing what kind of users were on the service.
MOCKUPS

What's Next?

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.

What I Learned

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.