Improving trust in the roommate search with a coliving customer platform

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Finding a coliving rental currently happens as an ad-hoc process in cities across the world,  developing a platform that allows for focused coliving matches was the challenge at hand.

The solution responded to the research indicating trust to be the key factor in making a match for both sides of the transaction. I found the exchange is essentially interviewing to become friend, and trust was fostered through; 1) Communication, and 2) Clarity of posting

Duration

2 week agile sprint

Team

2 person design and research team for a conceptual project

Role

UX /UI Designer, UX Researcher, Created the graphics you see here

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Research

Research Process 

We set out to see if fostering trust through unique profile verification and enabling direct chats would create a platform where potential living mates could quickly start a conversation. The notion of trust and verification became apparent through a process of surveys and one on one interviews. By taking user statements and creating an affinity map, I was able to infer the user journey and leverage that in the final design.

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Research Results 

Trust and verification of user interactions -like a dating site- was needed

By reviewing the complete journey through mapping of user interview statements showed the primary chance for improvement in the process was in the communication between parties. The product needed to not only be a listing service like Craig's list, but more importantly a dating site where people could communicate in a trustworthy way.

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Solution Ideation

Design hypothesis

By creating a site that integrated chat and profile verification scoring, we can create a more trustworthy coliving platform

After affinity mapping trends in user interviews and survey responses; I found that people share apartments for financial benefit, reduced carbon footprint, and to enjoy social company. To get the match right, they need trustworthy information and the ability to verify what people say about themselves.

We set out to see if fostering trust through unique profile verification and enabling direct chats would create a platform where potential living mates could quickly start a conversation.

 

The result was part apartment listing classified, part dating site.

People determine internet safety much like that of our built environment; they seek prospect and refuge: those environments feel secure and thereby meet basic human psychological needs by allowing people to observe (prospect) without being seen (refuge.)

Hand sketches were quickly developed through a design studio environment where time was fixed and a high quantity of ideas was the only aim. From this exercise, actionable approaches to our problem emerged. Taking the most logical approaches that fit within a minimum viable product, we implemented these within a wireframe prototype to get them in front of users for initial feedback.

Research showed the existing site needed to bring richer information to form trust in the process

A traditional home shopping site is not a good solution for a roommate finding platform

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At this moment “done is better than perfect” snapped into focus for me as a designer.

New solutions for a more approachable personal information sharing process where needed. The solution came through striking everything that was unnecessary. The following results were achieved:

  1. Reduced profile creation from 5 to 3 steps
     

  2. A profile preview to provide the user input feedback and a sense of trust in the site
     

  3. Leveraged quick-select inputs for traits and hobbies

The friction: Humans want to see a lot of information about others, yet only share as little as possible about themselves.

The research showed people don’t want to create a cumbersome profile, they want engagement and flexibility in the process. Solutions I thought would provide transparency were putting up roadblocks.

 

This was the moment as a designer my mind shifted from the architectural world of needing to paint a masterpiece at first stroke, to a process where iterating and testing quickly is invaluable.

The designed experience establishes trust through flexibility and efficiency in communication 

Establishing profile trust evolved to employ both outside profile verification and factor building profiles to get greater depth without user friction.

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Site efficiency was measured through time on task and verified the prioritization of information on the listing cards  

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Chat prioritized the relationship between the listing and the conversation. Feedback indicated the flexibility of the format was essential in reducing friction and supporting the balance of communication best suited for a range of communication styles. 

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Reflection

Each layer of research brought me closer to the true need; communication.

The chat feature became the key action to serve user needs form both sides of the coliving exchange. Flexibility in this communication was the final step and became a key aim of the minimum viable product.

Growth through this work

The first phase of design thinking is just the beginning. My iterative process thrives on becoming comfortable -as a digital designer- with getting a minimum viable product on its feet, shipping, and then learning from it in the wild to make the next iteration better.

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