UniLodge Roommate Feature

“How do we create an environment that connects users in a trustworthy fashion?”

This question became the main guiding focus throughout the process of the design for our roommate feature for the UniLodge app. Unilodge had asked us to design a “new feature “Roommates” on their existing app, allowing students to find compatible roommates to share their apartment with.” With this brief, we knew this connection between user and user had to be handled carefully. Furthermore, with the short turnaround time, we determined a design sprint was necessary.

Design Sprint Day 1 — Mapping and Sketches

Rapid note taking laid the basis for the majority of Day 1 in the sprint. An initial recognition of what our goals were, was first on the itinerary. The main primary goal, of which stayed as a constant throughout the whole design, stated, “meet lifelong friends with roommates”. This emotional connection that must be fostered is the basis to avoiding conflicts of personality, of which was a concern raised by the UniLodge brief. The secondary goals dealt with entertainment and mental health, issues that would be highly relevant to the target base of university students.

Note Taking

As this further process was undertaken one after another in a rapid fashion, it became evident that many of the questions started to fall back onto the components of the app we wanted to address, user relation and how can we make it reliable for the users. A singular separating feature needed to be found. The idea of sharing your bedroom as a representative of your personality was determined as a unique idea that we would continue with. Another idea that was also considered was utilising the Meyer’s Briggs test as a profile for the user. A big consideration in our process was the idea of avoiding the cliché of making a “tinder” clone. With this app having a potentially more serious use-case than a dating app, it needed to eliminate aspects such as discrimination that could be found on apps such as tinder.

Journey Map

Design Sprint Day 2 — Storyboarding

The second day focused heavily on determining how we wanted the user to use the app. This started off with our user experience map which gave us three points that we planned to target: profile creation, conversation engagement and post roommate features. From this a 6 step ideal user test flow was determined, and consequently a storyboard aligning with the test flow was created. At this point a clear image was painted in our minds of how the app was to function.

1. You would create a profile based around your bedroom.

2. You would find other profile and engage in conversation.

3. You would confirm a roommate.

4. You then hang out with these roommates through entertainment features.

Storyboarding

This was the first mistake of our process. We were too broad with our process and lacked focus. Luckily, after receiving feedback of our test flow, it became clear that this process had to be honed down and a choice had to be made. What would we focus on?

The answer was simple, we had to focus on the initial user to user interaction, as this laid the basis for the whole relationship. From this we determined a need for a filter, in order to sort out conflict users.

Design Sprint Day 3 — Prototyping

With time to think, a new section was added to the story board, in order to address the previous issues found. We determined that we place our efforts into the conversation engagement in order to make that aspect unique, as we have done with the profiles. This was resolved with a locking of the traditional messaging model and instead forcing users to ask each other pre-set questions that fostered a focused conversation. All that was now needed was to decide upon the specific visual style, of which it had to adhere to what has been set in place already by UniLodge. This visual style was worked on throughout prototyping phase.

The prototype: https://www.figma.com/proto/xOs9DhKWaHbWz0iX75Klu5/Unilodge?scaling=scale-down&page-id=0%3A1&node-id=0%3A3

Design Sprint Day 4 — User Testing

The User Testing phase presented the most useful information in producing the final prototype. What must be considered, though, is the user who was tested whilst being a university student was not someone who was looking for accommodation. With this in mind, it became paramount to continue stressing to him to put himself fin the shoes of someone who was looking for accommodation. Asides from general prototyping issues such as linking of pages, a major point of emphasis he identified was the lack of a concise explanation, an introduction to the feature essentially. Although everything was present, it needed the app to tell users what made this app different. From that, an extra introductory screen was added.

So how did we create the ideal environment for the users. We achieved this by putting up walls. As counter intuitive as it seemed, these limits to interaction between the users help focus the conversations and therefore allows the app to achieve its purpose of connecting people. It seems that, often times, putting up walls, opens up better opportunities for the user.

Our final prototype: https://www.figma.com/file/nmQl5b5nWTfCroqe1KYjSx/Unilodge-Copy?node-id=0%3A1