Figma, InVision, Zoom, Otter.ai, Maze, Notion
Too many tenants & landlords are being deceived during the rental screening process
An increasingly big concern in Vancouver is the amount of landlords and tenants who are being deceived during the screening process which misleads individuals into signing an agreement with someone who they thought they could trust only to face a nightmare situation in their hands later on. This led me to wonder- how can we stop people from being so easily deceived?
Increasing transparency to keep people accountable is key
Vancouver landlords & tenants want change to the system
To get an understanding of the rental space in Vancouver and some of the current frustrations that tenants + landlords have, I reviewed recent news, blogs and journal articles online. Here are some main statements that highlight their frustrations and concerns towards renting:
COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS + THE OPPORTUNITY
Current apps on the market have no features for owners & renters to write reviews
I analyzed 4 of the most popular rental apps on the market and found that the main functionality of most were for listing or searching rental properties only. However, one particular feature that stood out to me from AirBnb was it's feature to write reviews for both hosts and guests which none of the other apps had. This is what sparked the idea in my head to use reviews to increase transparency + accountability.
User interviews revealed that landlords & tenants are unsatisfied with the screening/application process
I interviewed 8 interviewees- 4 tenants & 4 landlords and asked a series of open-ended, qualitative questions to extract key insights on their experiences and attitudes towards renting.
THE MAIN INSIGHT
Landlords have the most opportunity to benefit from a design intervention
Through affinity mapping, I synthesized my interview findings by narrowing down themes and generating an insight statement for each of my user groups- landlords & tenants. Due to time constraints, I decided concentrate on designing a solution for landlords only with a focus on the theme 'issues with screening' as my insights indicated that they have the most pain points.
How might we help landlords feel more trustworthy towards tenants so that they feel confident renting their property to them?
Crafting the persona of my target user
Based on my research and interview insights, I crafted a persona to help visualize the goals, motivations and behaviors that the ideal user of this app would have to help me identify ways to solve their needs.
Exploratory sketches to final solution sketches
Drawing inspiration from my UI board, I came up with several variations for my app with different layouts and UI features for each. I gathered my best ideas and compiled it all into a final solution sketch to base my wireframes off of.
USER TESTING + IMPROVEMENTS
Making improvements & iterations to ensure app usability
To ensure that my app is usable and intuitive enough for users, I went through 2 rounds of user testing with 5 participants in each round. In each round, users were given a scenario where they were asked to imagine themselves as Mike Brown, the landlord and complete a series of tasks.
TESTING ROUND 1
In the first round, there were several minor issues identified, but no major usability issues that prevented users from completing their tasks.
TESTING ROUND 2
After the first round, I took the feedback given to me and made iterations to prepare for a second round of user testing. In the second round, users did not notice any major issues and were all able to successfully complete their tasks. The only issue noted was the button sizes were too small which I then made bigger.
Establishing the visual identity
To develop the branding for my app, I curated a UI moodboard to capture images that convey the atmosphere and mood of my app. I came up with a list of adjectives to describe the overall feeling and values that my brand embodies help direct and drive the vision of my app going forward.
Drawing inspiration from my moodboard, I developed a color palette to showcase all the different colors I used. To ensure that the typography and colors throughout my app are easily seen and accessible to all users, I inspected the contrast of the color combos used to make sure they all pass WCAG guidelines. Most achieved a AAA standard, with only a few achieving a AA standard.
NAME + WORDMARK
Exploring wordmarks & name meaning
Since the focus of my app is to exchange genuine reviews between tenants and landlords, trust is a significant part of it, hence why I chose TrustKey as the final name. Key symbolizes the final handover of the property once a deal has been finalized and also represents how this app will be the key to helping you find trustworthy people to rent with.
black and white versions of my wordmark
For my final wordmark, I decided to go with the font EB Garamond in regular/medium weight. “Trust” is in regular weight and “Key” is in medium weight. I chose this serif font because it captures the overall mood of being professional, traditional, and reliable. I capitalized the T and K to help the two words stand out while also decreasing the spacing between K and E to make the letters in Key appear closer together.
HIGH FIDELITY PROTOTYPE
The final solution...
Spreading the word & driving business goals
After developing the TrustKey mobile app, my next objective is to persuade my target users to download the app. I created a responsive marketing website along with a mobile version to convince users why they would benefit from downloading my app. I placed a strong emphasis on my brand's value proposition which is to increase confidence in the rental process through increased transparency.
Maximizing efficiency of use for my app
Thinking further on ways to make my product more usable and accessible for my target user, I decided that creating a tablet version would be useful as landlords tend to have a lot on their plate. Creating a tablet version of my product would allow users to access the app easily from thier tablets to check listings and tenant requests rather than checking from the small screen of a mobile device.
DESIGN IMPACT & FUTURE-THINKING
Making a mark in Vancouver Real Estate through increased transparency + accountability
Too many tenants and landlords suffer from dishonesty due to the lack of transparency + accountability in the rental system. As the rental market continues to expand rapidly in Vancouver, I invision my app being the key to solving these frustrations for a lot of people and saving them from any regret or trouble down the line. I hope my app can offer people reassurance that they're renting with the right individuals and help them feel more confident at the time of signing.
CONCLUSIONS & THE VALUABLE LESSONS I'VE LEARNT
What I would do to improve next time
1. Just trust the process. One of the first things I was taught in my bootcamp was to embrace ambiguity. As this was my first project, I was afraid of the unknown and making any wrong decisions that could potentially ruin my project. This was until I learned that design isn't a linear process and that it's ok to not have everything done perfectly in the first place because you can always pivot and iterate to improve after more feedback is given.
2. Feedback is king. Simply asking others for feedback or advice on designs and getting an outside opinion will elicit new insight and perspectives that I've never thought of. It also helps prevent any persona biases from affecting the designs. Asking my mentors and even friends gave me so many aha! moments, something that I wish I would have done sooner.
3. Done is better than perfect. With such tight time constrictions, I stuggled with the constant tradeoff between making ceaseless iterations to make my designs as 'perfect' as possible and getting the job done. I learned that at a certain point, changes need to be stopped in order to move onto the next task so deadlines can be met as in the working world, it's crucial to respect deadlines to accomodate other team members like engineers or designers.
What's next for TrustKey?
Because of the time constraints for this project, I was only able to choose one user group to design for which was for landlords. However, I believe that designing a solution for tenants is also integral to improving the current frustrations surrounding Vancouver's rental market and will be my goal next. In the future, I also hope to conduct more user testing with a larger population to get more well-rounded insights and expand my users groups to not just landlords + tenants in Vancouver, but in other parts of the world as well.
For work inquiries or to chat with me, please do email me at email@example.com
Thanks for reading!