Re-imagining the service of searching the rental house in the urban area
The process of getting a rented house in an urban area is a challenging job. In spite of multiple platforms available in the market but from search to accommodating space takes a lot of time.
How might we help people in finding a suitable rental house in an urban area with ease?
The whole design process from discovery to final design
Through the concept of sharing economy or peer to peer(P2P) economy, integration of concept in the web-based app to make the process of finding the rented house in the urban area an easy task.
The creation of competitive profile (in terms of marketing strategy, target audience, core business, usability, layout, navigation structure, design and performance) together to assess current services in an urban area.
Also, the target audience and the question of how the platforms integrate different stakeholders, what value do they offer to each stakeholder?
The first part of research was to understand the steps involved in finding rented house in urban area, key stakeholders involved in the process and their influence on the service.
The second part of research was to understand the pain points, how users find suitable rented house, what criteria’s do they look for ,their perception about brokers/online platforms. For this, I conducted interview with 27 users including tenants and owners.
Through research, I could map out all the stakeholder’s involved in real estate. This was helpful to analyse the influencers in a different part of the system.
Due to fragmented information or old listings on the website, it takes more time to get a desired rental house. The majority of users said they search on only platforms to look for available listing and rent. Online platforms are used only to search a number of advertisements in any specific area instead they prefer visiting the place.
Listings aren’t available, hidden listings that only brokers will know. Lack of correct or complete information on rent, address and information on basic amenities. The majority of users rely on the information given by current tenants.
It is tough to get proper accommodation for bachelors and students. Other than high rents and high deposits they have faced discrimination on the basis of food habits, personal lifestyle choices, birthplace, etc.
After interviewing, I got to know that majority of people ask their friends or family (in case someone they know stay in that locality). Second priority they give to social media groups and real estate platforms. In case users don’t have time then they prefer to ask broker/agents.
From interviews, I have listed all the criteria which people look for while searching rental house such as basic amenities and also house owners stay in premises or not. Accessibility from the market, bus/train station.
It is difficult to get access to some listings without brokers as they control the majority of the market in the city. Brokers are an important part of the rental housing system but the majority of users rely on the information given by current tenants or in some cases owners.
Using qualitative data, I defined the two target audience Neelam and Manish. This helped me to empathize with my main user groups and prioritize the goals according to their needs.
After qualitative research, I used thematic analysis to find out emerging themes in the data.
From Findings to concepts
I have sketched out the concepts based on sharing economy platform and the service design concept. This was also helpful to evaluate how the web-based solution will work based on sharing economy framework.
Sketch to prototype
With all my research and conclusions in mind, I started building the web page. Starting with some rough sketches on paper to low-fi wireframes.
The visual design was developed by iterating from mood boards to a first version of the style guide.
A service that will connect tenants through online platforms. The tenants can add their requirement while signing up, so that when they are searching for the house. They don’t have to enter their criteria’ multiple times. Posting of information will also have the same criteria which will be useful to match the requirements from current tenant to space seeker.
To understand the frontend and backend service including the user’s journey throughout the service.
To test the service with the user’s, I have made a clickable prototype of the web-based solution. I have shared the clickable prototype with some users to get feedback on the idea. Majority of the users liked the idea of getting help from the other tenants.
After designing any product or service it’s important to test with the user at a low-fi state or paper prototype stage. This will avoid any major changes in the final product.