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


Methods Overview


What Are Other Companies Doing?

Findings From Competitive Analysis


To Learn About Users


A Closer Look To The User


Journey Mapping

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

Customer Journey 1.1.png
Customer Journey 2.1.png
Customer Journey 3.1.png


Our Solutions

The Challenge


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.


Information Architecture

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.

Content Inventory

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


Card Sorting

  • 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



Card Sorting

  1. There were some cards such as Search, Sort and Filter which the participants found difficult to fit under one category

  2. Participants shared that searching for roommates and housing is a non-linear process, one doesn’t necessarily have to follow another

  3. Some information should be accessible anonymously, without a user account

  4. 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

  5. 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


Site Mapping



  • 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?

Frame 1.png


Concept Generation

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Visualize The Idea


Usability Testing


Lessons Learned


Next Steps

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