Reimagining the apartment search experience
Personal project - General Assembly
For my General Assembly class, I decided to look at the problems facing people in NYC since I would have access to interviewing people within the area. I choose to focus on leasing/renting apartments because it is such a big headache from beginning to end.
Did you know Manhattan has a 99% occupancy rate? That's why Brooklyn and Queens apartment developments have gone up over 200% over the last few years.
I started my research by creating a customer journey lifecycle based on experiences I heard about from my friends and also pulled from my own experiences. This helped me figure out pain points in the journey that I would use to inform my interview questions.
The next step was to interview people who had recently moved or currently in the search process. I interviewed 7 people to ask them about their experiences. They varied in age and income bracket. After these interviews, I narrowed my target demographic and created three young urban professional personas that I would use throughout the design process.
Competitive and Comparative Research
I explored the marketplace to see who the key players are and how they currently serve their customers. I also looked at other businesses with services that employ similar functionality for inspiration. My competitors were many, but I concentrated on the top sites since that is where the app data would be sourced. Those sites include StreetEasy, RentHop and Craigslist. The comparative business sites included AirBnB and Hopper.
From my research, I found that there is a need for a tool that helps busy people find apartments like a broker is supposed to, but without the fees and with some financial savviness.
The differentiating features are:
- Personalized search (aggregated from top real estate sites)
- Facilitated collaboration between roommates
- A comparative analysis tool to compare potential apartments ultimately helping to make decisions faster than a New York minute.
I started by creating the maps of the main screens I wanted to create and then started sketching out the different modules within each screen. For the app, I created a home screen, listing detail screen, favorite screen, comparison tool screen, and comparison detail screen.
During the wireframing process I had about 3 redesigns per section. The first pass being too much like a website. After several more iterations, I began testing my design with users. Testing the app after each iteration was absolutely vital to my final design.
For the final presentation, we had to create higher fidelity mockups for our final presentation. This was challenging to create in a few weeks, but I opted for a simple design system using colors that seemed trustworthy, modern and playful.
I learned so much during this class. I received feedback that I created too many features in my project, but I got excited about the opportunity to create the app. The biggest takeaway is that creating a personal design process takes time. There is a lot of trial and error. The best thing to do is iterate when there are mistakes or inefficiencies and take the time to think things through by sketching out the problem or stepping back from it for a few hours. After each iteration, each mistake, you get better. And when there is a slump, don't give up. When in doubt, seek help from the outside. I am thankful to my instructors, peer and most importantly my co-workers and mentors, who were instrumental in helping me during this process.