HouseScanner

HouseScanner is a responsive web project for the Interaction Design Studio course in HCII. The app aims to mitigate the worry and lack of information experienced by students preparing to live in Pittsburgh for the first time by helping users without extensive knowledge of the city find their ideal housing.

Team members: Marc Estruch-Tena

Design Brief

This project required teams to identify and solve one problem encountered by students from the time they first received their admittance notice to when they arrive at CMU.

Research

We began by taking turns interviewing other students. From our notes I created a customer journey map summarizing the current positive and negative experiences of students coming to CMU.

Housing was a common difficulty encountered by our interviewees so we chose to focus on this particular problem. We envisioned a preferred future, from which I created a second customer journey map. This helped identify the problems our app needed to solve, as well as the features we needed to provide.

Insight

Our greatest insight from our research was that students coming to Pittsburgh often know nothing about living in Pittsburgh. Many of our interviewees mentioned that they had no idea where to start searching for housing nor what they were looking for. This in turn made the process more time consuming and uncertain.

We designed our app to address this difficulty. HouseScanner streamlines the search for housing by gathering property listings together so that the app becomes a one-stop search location. More importantly, the app also provides housing recommendations as a search entry point for users unfamiliar with Pittsburgh.

Wireframes

The web and mobile wireframes I created prototyped a number of initial features of our app. Users can update their profile, explore and favorite listed property, as well as read up about living in Pittsburgh.

Final

From the feedback we received during critiques we improved the design of our app and its features.

In order to make the best possible recommendations, the app asks new users to fill out a short preferences survey. The survey questions are not Pittsburgh specific, making them easier to answer without in-depth knowledge of the city. For example, a question might ask about preferred living environments rather than particular neighborhoods. These preferences can be changed in the profile at any point in time; users can also filter for these preferences when browsing listings.

The recommendations feature sends users notifications whenever new housing options are added that fit their preferences. This frees users from having to constantly check the app, which is a time consuming activity many of our interviewees found stressful.

HouseScanner also provides in-depth information about living in Pittsburgh for users should they want the option of reading up more.In this final version, each listing is also color coded so that attributes that more closely match a user's preferences are in green, while those that are less suitable are in red. This helps users discern at a glance which listings they may want to look further into.

On mobile, there is the added option of calling the homeowner or opening GoogleMaps for directions by simply tapping the icons. This is to facilitate house viewings and to make the needed information readily available while a user is on the go.

© Grace Guo, 2017