Searching for a house could be challenging and frustrating, with agents trying to exploit you and most times not meeting expectations. Getting a clean, safe and affordable apartment in a cool location in India, especially on the mainland, is a serious struggle. And in your search for an apartment, you’ll probably meet a crazy agent, who’ll introduce you to a difficult landlord and his poorly maintained house.
Here comes your first disappointment the moment the agent tells you he has gotten your choice apartment, don’t jubilate yet, just go and see it first. Most times, this turns out to be a direct opposite of what you want. You want a clean apartment in a cool location, but the first house your agent will show you will most likely be one with water problems in an overcrowded area.
Since you don’t like the first one, the search continues. If you really want to get a good house in your city, you must be ready to do some legwork with the agent. Some agents are ready to work the length and breadth of the city to get you an apartment. Forget the claim that he knows all landlords and vacant apartments in Lagos. You are in it together, and you have to pay the transportation fair to anywhere he takes you.
Personally, I had friends who were looking for apartments and the frustrations they felt was glaring, some even stopped seeking. As I was looking through twitter I stumbled on a thread that was similar to the problem I was trying to solve.
For my research I decided to use ethnography Research, let me begin by explaining what it is.
Ethnography is a study through direct observation of users in their natural environment rather than in a lab. The objective of this type of research is to gain insights into how users interact with things in their natural environment.
Ethnography methods include direct observation, diary studies, video recordings, and photography and artifact analysis such as devices that a person uses throughout the day. Observations can be made anywhere from the user’s workplace, homes or while they are out with family and friends. The length of the studies can vary depending on the research that is being conducted. They can range from a couple of hours of observation to studies that last several months.
There are two methods for observation:
For this research I used the Contextual interviews, it was challenging but awesome.
Identifying the Candidates:-
Because I wanted to capture an entire range of user behaviors regarding this product, it was critical that I identified an appropriately diverse sample of users and user types when planning the interviews. I identified like various classes of audiences this product will serve and made plans to speak with them.
Feature and flow comprehension
Ease of use
Discoverability and flagging user questions or concerns
Current user problems or difficulties
Selecting interview questions:-
I had to prepare a list of questions that’ll guide the interview process. I used the word guide because I didn’t get to ask all and some questions came up as follow up from other questions. Here’s the question guide I used.
A user interview always gets me scared, as people react to things differently; I tried to smile all through till my jaws were weak.
I was actually wrong as they were all nice, some even wanted to give me more information, and some offered me food to eat. I made a few errors and I had to reschedule for some users but in general, it was an awesome experience. Listening to and watching them was great. They shared experiences of crazy landlords and agents with me.
I filled most of the answers they gave into a notepad; I took some recording so I’ll be able to refer to it later.
From my research and interview, I concluded that the majority of the users complained about the same things and few had extras to complain about so I represented those using personas.
I sat for days thinking about possible solutions, it wasn’t easy at first but after a couple of brainstorming sessions and user Interviews, the solution became clearer. Users had unique Pain points hence I came up with possible solutions based on their pain points.
All houses can be viewed in 360° instead of static images: this enables you to properly see the house without being there, hence improving the experience.
Options of using VR to add your currents properties e.g. chairs and television to the house: this is like previewing it to see how your properties fit in
It also allows you to view homes for short stay e.g. a night, weekends, or a few days.
User flow is the path taken by a prototypical user on a website or app to complete a task. The user flow takes them from their entry point through a set of steps towards a successful outcome and final action.
Visual design is the use of imagery, color, shapes, typography, and forms to enhance usability and improve user experience. There was a lot of back and forth in my designs as I wasn’t sure on what color to use or what layout would suit the users and I tried to make it perfect. In the end, I decided to come up with something and probably iterate later during usability testing.
Working on this application was really interesting as well as informative. The research conducted to absorb the domain knowledge proved to be really valuable.
Research is the key to build any strategy which leads to a relatable User Experience whether online or offline. And Emotional Intelligence is the key to get high-quality insights from any qualitative data.