Designing a stress-free and meaningful roommate searching process

At a glance
ShareSpace is a mobile-first application for students and young working professionals living in cities to find the room they prefer and roommates who they feel comfortable sharing co-living space with.

ShareSpace matches users with potential roommates based on mutual friends, living habits and similar interests. I designed the product from scratch and pitched my idea to design team at Wish.
My Role
Product Designer
3 weeks

Finding people you want to live with can be hard...

" 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

Problem Space

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.

Proposed Solution 💡

All-in-one search and chat platform that matches users with potential roommates based on common interests and habits

Match you with roommates you would love

Preliminary screening during onboarding to get to know users’ interests and habits. Show only matched results on homepage.

Filter matches based on your own preference

Users are able to filter matches based on their own preference. A quote from potential roommates as a personal invitation.

Getting to know roommate like it’s in person

Fun and interactive roommate information introduces him/her to you like any other social media platforms

Empathize & Define


"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. "

Initial Thoughts

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.

Why I want to work on this problem


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.

Competitor Analysis

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.

Apartment List


Spare Room

Interview & Survey Insights

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.

The Synthesis

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.

User Quotes

Journey Mapping

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 💭

Problem Statement 🧐

"How might we create a meaningful and stress-free roommate-searching experience for people who are new to a city?"

Design & Iterations

Business Goal


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.

Product 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.

Target Users

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.

User Flow Charts

Design Iterations

How might we make users feel safe about knowing roommates' vaccination status without asking a lot of questions?
From user interviews, I learned that although most people living in the cities are vaccinated, people still feel uncomfortable to ask roommates if they are vaccinated - it’s just not a good conversation starter.

Initially I decided to design onboarding process to include vaccination proof upload and a filter function which can be selected to only show vaccinated results on homepage.
Early onboarding and filter designs prototyped for usability testing
When I tested this prototype with users, many commented a disconnect between WFH policy and lower transmission risk. Until directly prompted, users did not understand the filter function. My initial design failed to convey the trust and security the app is trying to build with users.

Ultimately, I revised filter options for COVID Safety to best meet users’ needs. Since I only had one week to complete the challenge, I only listed factors that ranked highest from user research and feedback.

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

How to balance between a formal and informative roommate profile page and one with a fun and casual vibe?
For roommate profile, I was debating between a separate page with roommates’ background information and a slide-up section of the room details page. So I designed variations and conducted A/B Testing.
Goal: show a trustworthy user profile page with necessary information in an approachable and friendly way.
From users testing feedback, version A is preferred because it feels more trustworthy and more like a social media page that users feel instant connection to. However, users do like the emoji icons in Version B a lot which I decided to incorporate into final version as well.
Final Version
What information should be prioritized on landing page?
Instead of showing directly the match results after onboarding, I decided to create a landing page which highlights location options as a point of entry for users.

Since the app mostly caters to young people living in the cities, and those who are exploring the option of being digital nomads during pandemic, I listed out matches in top work from home destinations in 2021, and categorized local matches according to different metrics.
Goal: Show just the right amount of information users prioritize to provide necessary options and get search process started

Testing Flows

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.

User Testing Feedback

There’s joy in choosing your preferences first, and seeing matched results.
“The onboarding process reminds me of Apartment List, except here we’re getting matched with roommates. You can even explore criteria like move-in date and lease length.”

                                                                          - Jeff
Filtering matches based on user criteria is useful, as long as it suits individual needs.
“I like the filter idea for COVID precautions like making sure I’m rooming with someone who’s vaccinated. However, I don’t think working from home decreases the chance of getting infected necessarily.”

                                                                           - Proud
Users need to see roommate’s profile and any social media channels available to make sure they can be trusted.
“Background check and previous reviews can be extremely helpful so I know I can trust the person making the post.”

                                                                           - Michael

Final Design

Learnings & Takeaways

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.