Caroline Chang
UX/UI & Web Designer
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Rent-tastic

 
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Rent-tastic

A responsive platform for renters

Project Type: UX/UI, Responsive Design, Branding

Timeline: 80 hours | Tools Used: Sketch, InVision

OVERVIEW

Millennials make up the nation’s largest generation and over 60% of them choose to rent property instead of own it. While renting has its advantages, it often comes with the burden of paperwork, budget planning, dealing with unreliable landlords, and confusing terminology. Rent-tastic aims to help renters keep track of their past, present, and future rentals in a comprehensive, responsive platform. Now, renters have everything they need to be a smarter, better tenant in the palm of their hands. This project was a capstone project completed during Designlab’s UX Academy.

CHALLENGE

Develop a responsive website and user dashboard (compatible on mobile, tablet, and desktop) where renters can manage current and previous rentals, search for and contact open listings, and report issues to landlords.


Research: understanding and defining our users

METHODOLOGIES USED:

Secondary research, competitor analysis, customer interviews

RESEARCH GOAL

Millennial priorities and values when searching for a new place, provide a platform for them to speak openly about their pain points when renting and dealing with landlords.

 

SECONDARY RESEARCH FINDINGS

  • 60% of Millennials choose to rent, and most are willing to move into apartments.

  • 90% of Millennials use technology to search for a new home (3 out of 4 do so on their mobile devices).

  • Millennials contact on average 5.3 landlords during their search.

  • According to a survey by rent.com:

    • Millennials choose to rent mostly because of affordability.

    • Millennials find renting appealing because of flexibility and convenience.

    • They prefer not to have to deal with home maintenance.

Findings based on article: “The Anatomy of a Millennial Renter,” My Smart Move

 

CUSTOMER INTERVIEW FINDINGS

Demographics:

  • 4 total participants

  • 3 female, 1 male

  • Ages range between 26–32 (within Millennial demographic)

  • All live in Los Angeles county

  • Monthly rent ranges between $1,800–$2,600 for 1BD/1BA

Goals & Needs of Renters:

  • Participants valued reliability, responsiveness, communication skills, trustworthiness, and respect in their landlords.

  • Interview participants placed extremely high value on having a reliable landlord when considering a new apartment or home.

  • Interview participants weren’t looking to buy homes any time soon. They are all planning to rent long-term no matter what city they live in. Reasons center on finances and affordability, as well as not having the flexibility to move as often.

Pain Points of Renters:

  • Landlords who are absent, non-communicative, unhelpful, and frugal when it comes to fixing issues on the property. This makes their living situations less comfortable (comfort is something participants highly valued).

  • Price of rent increasing every year.

  • Mobile rental listings sites that are not user-friendly.

Right now, [renting] is the only feasible option in LA. I would love to own a home someday! Just can’t afford it right now in this very expensive city.
— Interview Participant
 

PERSONA & EMPATHY MAP DEVELOPMENT

Danielle embodies the most common pain points and goals of renters in major US cities. By culminating research findings into one persona, I was able to narrow my focus and better understand my collective audience.

 

SUMMARY OF FINDINGS

Based on my findings from conducting 1:1 interviews with Millennial renters, it’s clear that there are real pain points among renters in major US cities. Both secondary research and interview findings identify cost as the number one source of frustration for Millennials—there is a huge disconnect between the amount of money they’re making vs. how much they spend on rent.

Apart from cost, landlords are the next biggest pain point. Renters expect a certain standard of communication and respect when it comes to landlords, and very few of them feel their landlords fit the bill. This affects renters’ experience in their own homes.


Ideation: brainstorming solutions to the problem

PROCESS:

  • Sitemap

  • User flow

IDEATION GOAL

Use information architecture and interaction design methodologies to develop Rent-tastic’s structure and navigation. Ensure the Renters’ Dashboard clearly displays all the necessary features given user needs from the Research phase.

 

SITEMAP

 

USER FLOWS

Using low-fidelity wireframes, I drafted up potential user flows for two different types of Rent-tastic users: those who would like to start an account just to save listings they like and those who would like to get organized with a Rent-tastic Dashboard.

User Flow #1: “I’m just looking for a new place right now.”

User Flow #2: “I want to get organized with Rent-tastic.”


Wireframing & prototyping: designing a solution

PRELIMINARY RESPONSIVE WIREFRAMES

Next, I designed responsive wireframes for high priority pages on Rent-tastic’s desktop and mobile sites.

Dashboard Responsive Wireframes.png

Desktop Wireframes:

Mobile Wireframes:

Prototype

After wireframing key screens, I plugged them into an InVision mobile prototype for usability testing.

Click to view live prototype

 

ESTABLISHING A BRAND

Rent-tastic’s brand personality can be described as trustworthy, reliable, modern, cheerful, and pleasant.

 

RESPONSIVE UI DESIGNS

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Desktop UI Screens.png
Mobile UI Screens.png

Iteration & implementation: testing my designs

USABILITY TESTING FINDINGS

Task:

The task that I gave participants was two-fold: first, I had them search for rentals in Los Angeles and star a particular listing; then, I tested participants’ ability to successfully create an account with Rent-tastic to save and view listings.

Demographics:

  • 2 total participants

  • 1 female, 1 male (both in Millennial age group)

  • Both participants currently rent their apartments

 

General Findings:

  • Both participants were able to successfully complete both parts of the task.

  • One participant specifically asked about a search bar somewhere on the home page to search for rentals in a particular city.

  • One participant felt that asking people to choose whether they are creating an account “just to save and view listings for later” or “to get organized with Rent-tastic” was stand-offish and created a barrier in an otherwise smooth experience.

  • It was interesting to watch participants go through a mobile prototype on a desktop computer. Along the way, they mentioned that some interactions felt strange and they probably would have done things differently on an actual mobile device.

 
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Synthesizing usability test results

I created an affinity map to sort and prioritize the successes, areas for improvement, areas of concern, and potential solutions based on usability testing results.

 

WIREFRAME ITERATIONS

Based on my findings from usability testing, I determined that improving the user flow for creating an account—specifically getting rid of the screen that requires users to select an option to move forward—was the highest priority.

On the left: users who are creating a Rent-tastic Dashboard. On the right: users who are creating an account to save listings.


Reflection & looking ahead

This project actually started as a website for tenants to review their landlords. Upon rethinking the value of such a site, however, I decided renters would get more out of an all-encompassing site that allows them to organize and manage their rentals (reviewing landlords would still be a part of the site). While doing exploratory research, it became apparent to me that there are many moving parts to the renting experience. A website that could cater to all of those parts would serve a larger audience better in the long run. Thus, Rent-tastic!

My overarching goal was to create a mobile site that renters would actually use. During my interviews, I learned people would be more inclined to search for rentals online if their favorite sites were more mobile-friendly. Although this project was fictional, I’m confident that, had it gone to production, users would find the mobile experience of Rent-tastic delightful.