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This is a team project we did in Fall 2019.

For most Cornell students, the whole house searching process is stressful, and it’s not easy for students to find a house/apartment that satisfies all their requirements. Students find taking tours to the housing options really helpful, but they have a difficult time scheduling tours or they might not be available to take tours.

Our project team want to provide an efficient solution for students to find the right housing options and an easy way for Cornell students to have tours to the housing options. This project received the Best Visual Design award at the final poster presentation session.

We decided to interview several Cornell students ( sophomores and older) to do the research.

I designed a flyer for interview recruitment, and my teammates sent out the flyers in several halls in Cornell campus.

We successfully recruited 7 interviewees, and I was responsible for interviewing 4 of them.

I interviewed each of them 45 minutes. The interview consisted of 2 parts: the 1st part is questions; the 2nd part is letting the interviewee show us how he/she usually do when searching for housing.

Based on all the information we get from the interview, we made an Affinity Diagram. After analyzing the data, we found 3 key words:

Preferences

  • Each student has various preferences for their housing

  • Lack of centralized information or information in general makes it difficult to search based on preferences

Tour

  • Most students find house tours really helpful and necessary

  • Current students find it hard to balance school work and taking house tours, since most offices close at 5pm (some have class at or near that time)

  • New graduate students find it almost impossible to tour before coming to Cornell

Stressful

  • Lots of stress surrounding the uncertainty of the process and lack of guidance

Based on our findings, we created the persona.

 

Each team member came up with 20 different ideas as the solution to this problem, including both technical and non-technical solutions.

 

Our team built the solution space, discussed about solutions, and decided to combine my idea of ‘Housing Suggestions Based on Preferences’ and Matthew’s idea of ‘Scheduling Tours’ together to be the final solution we chose to develop.

Our final solution consisted of 4 main parts:

  1. Setting Housing Preferences

  2. Seeing Housing Suggestions that Match Preferences

  3. Scheduling In-Person Tours

  4. Hiring Someone to Tour for You

We chose paper prototype as our Low-Fidelity Prototype. I was responsible for sketching the paper prototype for two main parts: 1. Setting Housing Preferences, and 2. Seeing Housing Suggestions that Match Preferences.

We combined all the paper prototype together, and made 3 main tasks for user testing. I was responsible for making the first task: Housing Preferences and Suggestions, including writing the Scenario, drawing the Storyboard, and making the prototype.

Below is the video showing all 3 tasks.

 

For the Low-Fidelity Prototype, our team tested 3 users in total, and I was responsible for testing 2 of them. Below are the key insights we got from the user feedback:

  • Refine Must / Preferred selection. First, some users don't know what the Must / Preferred selection in Housing Preferences refers to and what's the effect of selecting it. Second, the Must / Preferred selection doesn’t apply to some of the questions. Third, setting Must/Preferred for every question is arduous.

  • Refine preference questions. Some questions are not clear enough. Also for the location questions, users mention providing a map would be really helpful.

  • Add Search function. Some users want to be able to search the houses/apartments they're interested in, in addition to only being able to see the housing options that are suggested.

  • Add explanation for scheduling Stand-In Tour. Most users don't know what 'Hire Stand-In' means. And some users find ‘Media’ a little vague.

  • Set Frequently Asked Questions for tours. Some users think it would be too tedious to keep typing in questions for every tour.

  • Add Tour Confirmation page. Most Users expect a Tour Confirmation page after they confirm their tour scheduling.

Based on user feedback, we iterated our design and used Balsamiq to create the Mid-Fidelity Prototype.

Individually, I was responsible for creating the Balsamiq UI style and templates for the whole team, and designing the Housing Preferences, Housing Suggestions, Explore, Favorites, and Tours pages.

Below is the video showing the Mid-Fidelity Balsamiq Prototype.

After finishing the Mid-Fidelity Prototype, we had a Heuristic Evaluation session within the team, and a Design Walkthrough session with Professor Gilly Leshed and 3 other project teams. Below are the key insights we got from Heuristic Evaluation and Design Walkthrough:

  • Refine Housing Preferences. Users find the Housing Preferences helpful, but the questions can be more organized and categorized. And Professor Gilly Leshed suggested putting the list of preferences first and letting users answer the questions they find necessary, instead of putting the questions first and showing the list in the end.

  • Add Contact Information function for stand-ins to share the media. Some users wonder how user can set contact information for stand-ins to share the media.

  • Refine Back/Exit function for all Tour pages. Users find the arrow button confusing, and they’re confused about how to exit the function and how to go back to the last scheduling step.

 

Based on the Heuristic Evaluation and Design Walkthrough, we iterated our design and used Figma to create the High-Fidelity Prototype.

Individually, I was responsible for creating the UI visual style, designing all the Housing Preferences, Housing Suggestions, Explore, Favorites, Account, Tours pages, and designing the templates for Tour In-Person and Hire Stand-In pages.

Then we had a Usability Test session. Our team tested 4 users in total, and I was responsible for testing 2 of them. All the users smoothly finished all the tasks, and the user feedbacks were mostly positive. Thus, we made some minor improvement on our prototype. Below are the 3 main functions of the final High-Fidelity Prototype:

shortpreferences.gif

Housing Preferences

  • When the user first uses this app, the Set My Preferences page will show up.

  • User set his/her housing preferences, then the app will provide housing options based on the user’s preferences.

  • There are 4 categories of housing preferences: Housing Type, Location, Move-In Dates, and Amenities.

  • The housing preferences we provide are chosen based on user research.

Scheduling In-Person Tour

  • User can directly schedule an in-person house tour through this app.

  • User can select the tour time as well as add questions/comments about the housing option.

  • There are two entry points to this function: in Housing Detailed Information page, and in Favorite page.

shortinperson.gif
standinagain.gif

Scheduling Stand-In Tour

  • When user is not available to take house tours, user can hire a ‘Stand-In’ to take the house tour for the user.

  • User can select the time he/she wants the ‘Stand-In’ to tour, select the available ‘Stand-In’, select the medias (photos, videos, facetime/video call) he/she wants the ‘Stand-In’ to take and provide his/her contact information, and add questions or comments about the housing option.

  • After the ‘Stand-In’ finish the tour, the ‘Stand-In’ will share the medias to the user through the user’s contact information.

  • There are two entry points to this function: in Housing Detailed Information page, and in Favorite page.

Below is a video showing the overall user flow of this app in more details:

Below is the interactive Figma prototype:

 

I designed the poster of our project for the poster presentation. The purpose of the poster includes showing the design process and the improvement from insights, and making the poster look like a part of the project. Below is the poster that I designed to fulfill the purpose.

On Dec 10 2019, we had the poster presentation with 40+ other UX/UI teams at Baker Atrium in Cornell. We presented using the poster as well as Figma Mirror on our phones.

In the end, Professor Gilly Leshed announced that our project won the Best Visual Design award!

Team Members

Jackson Rong - UX Researcher, UX Designer

Jiarui Hu - UX Researcher & Designer, Visual Designer

Matthew Suh - UX Researcher, UX Designer

Phyllisia Angelia - UX Researcher, UX Designer, Product Manager