UX Case Study for a Student Housing Website

Mi Casita is a digital product (desktop) for english speaking students who seek to find housing near a local University. Here you can find my solution as well as the process I followed. The tools I used were Figma, Miro, Zeplin, Lookback, Gsuite, paper, and pencil

THE IDEA

Finding housing has been challenging for university students that are new to my local campus. Market research shows that each semester there are about 1500 students being welcomed that need to find housing.

I came across the idea while studying abroad: getting housing is a daunting, stressful and time consuming experience for a foreign student in a new city because not all colleges have dorms or housing is not guaranteed. Making phone calls, language barriers, wandering around town in search of housing ads, and word of mouth could be simply replaced by a website that can find you the best accommodation.

THE APPROACH

In order to better understand my users, I created  a research plan. I wanted to learn about how students use digital tools to find housing, including what are the minimum requirements they take into account when choosing a place to live.

The goal was to learn how the new students search for housing, and determine what opportunities and needs might exist for a housing platform, I also wanted to understand what percentage of students would use a online platform to find housing, their needs, and pain points so so that I could use these findings to help shape the direction in developing the product.

Within a 4 week period, I focused on delivering a housing experience to students in a more streamlined way.

RESEARCH & ANALYSIS

DISCOVERY

The first step was to create a Research Plan that would answer to the key research questions.

● [Needs] What is essential for the housing website?
○ What are its features?
● [Behaviors] Which platform do they prefer to find  housing?
○ How do they interact with existing digital products?
● Do users really need another housing Website/App?
○ How do users feel about existing products?

The method I used were 30-minute in-person  semi-structured interviews to gather in-depth qualitative data.  Where I created an interview script as a guide and asked follow-up questions based on answers from the users.

RECOMMENDATIONS

After analyzing the key findings, data recommendations were made.

Recommendation 1
There is a market for a new housing product for student housing near our local University.

Things to consider:
●  The website/app should be easily found using Google.
●  The website should focus on housing for local University students.

RESEARCH SYNTHESIS: FEATURE PRIORITIZATION

I used my user interviews to build an understanding of potential users. The following are the feature ideas for the product, they were selected based on complexity and value.

DESIGN: CONCEPTS & SKETCHING

Before moving onto digital tools, I made some paper sketches to get a better sense of the ideas and to show how everything would fit together. After sketching I chose 3 main screens to focus on my digital prototype: home, results, and detailed result.

Then I translated my product concepts to digital drawings using Figma and created a clickable prototype.

USABILITY STUDY AND ITERATION

After the prototype was finished, it was time to validate my concepts and implementation by taking the designs into a short usability study.
This helped me to improve my design from what I learned from actual potential users.

TEST: VALIDATION, USABILITY, FEEDBACK

The prototype main task was to search for a room, select one from a list, and get to the detailed view where the user could place a booking.

All of the users could successfully complete the task, the feedback obtained was mostly regarding to the information displayed on the booking view. Users wanted to have more control regarding the selected dates for their stay and the price.

After this I did a second iteration on the low-definition prototype before creating High-Fidelity Design.

ACCESSIBILITY

The design was reviewed for improvements on accessibility. The WebAim tool was used to check for contrast on foreground and background colors, issues found on the input fields were fixed. Getting a  AA and AAA pass report.

REMOTE USABILITY TEST

A remote usability test was conducted with 10 people using Lookback.

An important finding was that users wanted to see reviews of previous users to get a better sense of the apartment they were interested. Social proof was an important aspect that made them more inclined to book an apartment when present.

Using this findings I iterated the design of the prototype.

HANDOFF

The final step was preparing the prototypes for handoff. For this I used Figma and Zeplin to create styleguides.

SOLUTION

The project outcome was a web solution for student housing on the local area of Queretaro.

It incorporates the feedback obtained from the usability tests, incorporates accessibility into the design and is backed up by a research plan and analysis.

The high-fidelity wireframes can be found in this Figma link.