Class: Introduction to Interaction Design       Date: Fall 2015     Category: Interaction Design & UX Research

The Problem

Incoming out of state and international students reported struggling to learn about different neighborhoods of Ann Arbor as they were trying to find places to live. In this competitive market, students who are not able to see the apartment because they live so far away are at a disadvantage. Students must base their decisions off of limited pictures, disorganized information, and short correspondence with landlords, who may or may not understand what it’s like to live in their property or provide accurate information. Incoming students also explained that the process of finding roommates was very manual, often involving looking at multiple platforms and websites. I discovered this need by conducting user interviews with university students and conducting a survey. 

 

The Solution: 

My project seeks to connect these incoming students with current student tenants who will act as ambassadors, helping students learn about specific neighborhoods in Ann Arbor. To incentivize these current student tenants to share their experience, it would make sense to compensate them by providing a significant deduction from their current rent – perhaps $75­-150 a month. My website will provide a higher level view of each neighborhood, highlighting their unique characteristics and connecting people with current students who can help them learn about these neighborhoods. After exploring each neighborhood, users will be able to view listings specific to that neighborhood and find people who are also interested in living in that area. Bringing together like­minded individuals with similar preferences will help build stronger communities and bolster the confidence and happiness of students about their living situations.

 

Design Process: 

In the research process, I created a competitive analysis to compare existing systems that help people find housing. 

Ideation:

To generate as many different ideas as possible, I took an 11" x 17" piece of poster board and divided it into 40 2X2 squares. I sketched 40 different solutions for my design problem. 

Personas:

I created three main personas for NeighborhoodMe. Creating personas helped me focus my design on what my users' needs, goals, and motivations would be. 

 

Low Fidelity Paper Prototype:

In order to consolidate the workflow and interactions of NeighborhoodMe, I created a paper prototype of the system using post-it notes, tape, and sharpie markers. I focused on prototyping the features of users finding roommates and learning about different neighborhoods in their collegetown. 

 

Interactive Digital Prototype: 

I used the prototyping software Axure and the design software Sketch to create a prototype of the three main interactions: learning about different neighborhoods, finding ratings, reviews, and information on different houses, and connecting with potential roommates. My prototype is available at: http://m2a892.axshare.com.