" When I first moved to San Francisco, I didn’t know anyone. Rooming with people I didn’t know was an uncomfortable experience. "
- Cassie, 22, Interviewee, Living in Bay Area
People who are new to a city don’t always find friends to split rent with, and they don’t want to live with complete strangers.
Preliminary screening during onboarding to get to know users’ interests and habits. Show only matched results on homepage.
Users are able to filter matches based on their own preference. A quote from potential roommates as a personal invitation.
Fun and interactive roommate information introduces him/her to you like any other social media platforms
"Choose an existing company, organization, or social movement and help them design a mobile experience that allows an individual to tackle a major problem afflicting society today. "
After giving the prompt some thoughts, I decided to tackle the high housing costs in major cities in US under the context of the pandemic.
In order to test my initial thoughts with target users, I conducted a short survey facing 15 participants and 2 user interviews about frustrations and expectations during roommate-searching process.
Key Takeaway: Social interaction apps exist (primarily for apartment hunting) and apps tied to looking for roommates exist as well but there is no app that necessarily matches users with potential roommates personally and let them get to know each other first.
Nobody wants to live with a complete stranger
From the surveys, I found out that people want to get to know someone from in-person interactions and/or social media platform first before deciding if they want to room together.
Finding people to live with that match your habits and preferences can be hard
Apart from the purpose of splitting the rent, people prefer living with someone who they know they are going to get along with, for example, having similar interests, living habits etc. or known from mutual friends. They also want to make sure their expectations for living together align especially during the pandemic.
Sticky notes organized under buckets done in miro
In order to keep track of users expectations and pain points, I categorized key insights and data from user interviews and surveys into 6 groups. From this chart, I can quickly identify the main characteristics of the target users, and summarize their pain points and needs when looking for new roommates / apartments. It also helped me prioritize key features to develop first later on.
To dive into the user’s situation and encourage myself to think about the user flow inside the product as well as before and after, I chose to do a Journey Mapping focusing on my interviewee Yuzi’s last experience looking for housemates.
I decided to focus on searching for roommates part because it is the most frustrating of the whole process and can be significantly simplified if reimagined 💭
The goal is to become a seamless part of roommate searching process for both renters and landlords in competitive regions. The business gets paid whenever the listing actually results in transactions. Number of in-platform listings and conversion rate are measures of this goal.
ShareSpace matches users with potential roommates based on mutual friends, living habits and similar interests to create a meaning and stress-free roommate-searching process tackling high housing cost in cities.
Students & working professionals
Young people living in the city who wants to find roommate they feel comfortable sharing co-living space with.
Digital nomads who travel while work
People who have remote jobs and want to experience living in new cities with roommates of similar interests.
COVID Safety as one of the filter categories to make it feel natural
Asking for vaccination proof during onboarding feels less personal - it’s not a requirement, just an option
Easy-to-spot roommate vaccination information to avoid awkward questions
Task 1: Open up the ShareSpace app, log in with phone number, and answer preliminary questions to create account and get matched with roommates.
Task 2: On Explore page, filter matches where there is a private room in a 2b1b apartment, roommates are COVID-19 vaccinated, near Marina District, and ordered by prices low to high.
Task 3: Find a room from the matches, checks out roommate’s background, and send a message with ice breakers.
Keep product strategy in mind when designing
Shout out to product design team at Wish, who gave me constructive feedback on my design process and guided me to think about building product from a business perspective. 🎉 I was able to pitch my testing and iterations while proposing KPIs to measure app success: retention rate and MAU to see how many users are getting matched and which process cut users off. I now understand how to wear different hats as a product designer working with stakeholders and team players.
Iterations never hurt anybody
When I pitched my design to a senior UX designer, he suggested doing even more iterations in the future on key interfaces because there’s never too many options. 📝 When building the product, considering business strategy and constraints, creating variations of user flows and information architecture helps choose the best one moving forward.
Get in touch for opportunities or just to say hi! 👋