Information Architecture, & Web Design
Redefine the architecture of the house hunting website
Team Hommie: Taka, Yiping, Ambuj, & Jiaxin
What Are People Experiencing?
The overwhelming options online require more time to filter and digest the useful information and prolong the decision making process.
Involving more parties in the searching process could complicate the house and roommate searching process as lacking proper tools for discussions and conversations.
Multiple user groups are neglected by the existing websites and service providers as the housing and roommate searching could be complex
Obscure search criteria and intransparent search results causing too much or not enough information exposed to users
What Are Other Companies Doing?
Findings From Competitive Analysis
To Learn About Users
A Closer Look To The User
A journey map visualizes the process of users’ actions to complete their goals. Based on our UX research, our team created three journey maps in order to have deeper insights on how users behave in the housing and roommate scenarios.
Our journey maps visualize
Steps involved in achieving users’ goal
Emotions and thoughts associated with each of the steps
Actions users take on each of the steps
Key points of each step
Lack of similar, already existing systems that we could use as reference and build upon.
Defining the scale of the project, for constructing an integrated system that would be a one-stop solution for three wide purposes.
Identify major overlaps between the three situations and disentangle the commonalities to have clear, independent flows.
From our competitive analysis and user research, we realized that the organization, labeling and formatting of content was very important to help user clearly navigate through the website. For that reason, we conducted activities such as building a content inventory, card sorting and sitemap generation in order to create a highly functional, robust and efficient information architecture for our website Hommie.
Our first step towards defining an architecture was to give our project a backbone. Creating a content inventory helped us build a solid foundation for our project in terms of the levels of navigation we would aim for, the contents on each level and the overall project hierarchy.
We defined four levels of navigation for the content and the initial structure of our website
Six global navigation items - Home, Look for housing, Look for Roommates (have house/apartment already), Look for Sublease, Profile and Messages
Global navigation items largely remained unchanged until the end
Sub-levels changed significantly as our project continued to grow and evolve
Total number of index cards: 86, including 6 global category cards
No. of participants: 7 (4 females, 3 males)
Duration: ~ 1 hour 15 minutes
Hybrid card sort activity (open+closed)
Provide participants a predetermined deck of category cards (shown as below), while also giving them the freedom to come up with their own categories if they felt like.
Wide scope of the project
Validate our hypotheses
Participants could develop some understanding of the project
New categories would help us think about any missed information
There were some cards such as Search, Sort and Filter which the participants found difficult to fit under one category
Participants shared that searching for roommates and housing is a non-linear process, one doesn’t necessarily have to follow another
Some information should be accessible anonymously, without a user account
Two(or more) people who wish to be roommates should be able to contact each other mutually and each person involved should hold equal power in selection or rejection
People looking for either roommates or housing can prioritize either of the two based on their current situation
Design Decisions Taken
Instead of having them search for roommates first and then for housing, the two functions would exist independently so users are free to pursue what and when they want to
Renamed the Sublease feature to ‘List My Place’ where users could post their sublet to eliminate confusion
Sublet posts now would become part of posts under ‘Look for Housing’ but clearly labeled as ‘Sublease’ to differentiate them from regular housing posts
Users can view basic information about housing and people as guests but to view more private details, need to register and fill preference forms
To define a clear logic flow from one task to another
To give shape to our hierarchy that we defined as part of the content inventory
To use the hierarchy as a guideline for the upcoming design
Huge overlaps between three situations made it difficult to clearly differentiate from one another
Important to have clearly defined user flows for each of the three situations even when the overlaps existed
How to make the whole searching process more flexible and how to leverage the overlaps to facilitate that?
FROM AMBIGUOUS TO OBVIOUS
Visualize The Idea