Maison Home Services

Maison Home Services

Client
Maison
Project title
Maison - Designing a home services platform
Disciplines
UXUser researchinformation architecture

Maison Home Services Platform Design

Researching the home services industry and doing the UX for a home services platform.

The challenge

We were given a brief that challenged us to design a home services platform that connected homeowners and renters with contractors they could trust.

Our stakeholders initial research was that millennials - the projected target user for our project, did not have the necessary DIY knowledge to fix home issues themselves and would need to hire contractors for most issues they came across. Our client was hoping to be the ‘one stop shop’ for home services providers.

Overview

The Problem - do young people even need home services?

The brief we had said we needed to design a home serices platform to connect young homeowners with contractors. Immediately, we saw a few issues that would have to be solved for:

1. We weren't entirely sold on designing for renters - the younger generation often rents (only 37% of millennials own homes.) Our initial assumption was that they would just use their landlord to fix things.

2. We needed to learn whether young people could 'Do It Themselves'.

2. We were unsure of what device to design for - our gut told us a website would be best for something as intensive as figuring out home repairs.

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Empathy

General vs. Specialized Services

One of the first things we learned is that there was a gulf in what was being offered to users with some services focusing on what we called general services and some focusing on specialized services.

  • General services was our in house design term for services that did not require the use of a highly trained contractor (dog walking, furniture assembly, errands, cleaning)
  • Specialized services was our term for services that required the use of a trained contractor (plumbing, electrical, ect).

We then sought out to understand more of the market by conducting a competitive analysis:

We plotted out the strengths and weaknesses of our competitors on a matrix in order to hone in on what we’d like to focus on and find a gap in the market. We found this gap in specialized services - which we’d discovered our users needed. While also offering them more transparency than others (being able to see prices and providers far faster in the process).
We plotted out the strengths and weaknesses of our competitors on a matrix in order to hone in on what we’d like to focus on and find a gap in the market. We found this gap in specialized services - which we’d discovered our users needed. While also offering them more transparency than others (being able to see prices and providers far faster in the process).
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Talking to People

We interviewed 8 potential users and sent a survey to almost 60 to find insights into how they utilized online home service and to get a bit of an idea on how much they did or did not attempt to solve home issues (like fixing things) themselves. We also asked them about device usage so we could learn which devices they preferred to use.

Our Key Takeaways, from both our user interviews and our surveys were that our users were:

  • DIY’ers - they like trying to fix things themselves. 7 of 8 people said that they’ll try to fix things themselves and enjoy taking ownership over their projects
  • Desktop users - 6 of 8 mentioned that they would first use a desktop to research home services
  • Looking for referrals All our users mentioned valuing the referrals of their family and friends in some way
  • Homeowners - we were striving to figure out who to aim our platform at - homeowners or renters. We learned here that homeowners tend to use these kinds of services far more.
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Definition

Coming to Our Persona

At this point, with a lot of research done, we learned that our challenge scope had changed a bit. 

We were now focusing on homeowners that needed specialized services (as they can do general services themselves). We knew we should focus on a website as opposed to an app and that our briefs emphasis on review and referrals was correct.

Our interviews and our surveys together, led us to the persona that we'd use throughout the design process to imagine who we were designing for.

Mike Kelly

Mike is new home owner who will try to fix things until he can’t figure them out. He wants to be able to easily find reliable contractors to talk to and organize his projects and budget so he can make his home a nicer place to live.

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Taking Mike on a User Journey

At this point, we had our persona together and a lot of research so we wanted to work a bit more toward understanding how an acutal user would move through the site as it was and how we might want it to be. To invision this, we developed a user journey map -

Coming up with a user journey, made fully defining the pain points - and therefore our overall problem statement much easier.
Coming up with a user journey, made fully defining the pain points - and therefore our overall problem statement much easier.

Our Problem Statement

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Our Design Principles

We also moved forward with a set of design principles that we would use to guide design decisions moving forward. We used our User Interviews, and our project brief to ascertain the best things to keep our designs on track moving forward:

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Design

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Prototype

Converging our divergent concepts into a single solution

We wanted to streamline and help organize our convergence - so we got together and first made our site map:

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We also leveraged a priority matrix to figure out the rest of what would best serve our users in our proposed solution. Our findings were:

  • We should move forward with picture laden reviews
  • Include a project management and questionnaire feature
  • Place value on referrals and provider portfolios.
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Our Proposed Solution

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Testing

Overall Feedback

We based Usability test on several tasks and evaluated our users on several metrics (task completion, user percieved difficulty) to collect quantitative data about our proposed solution.

We learned that people really did appreciate the project management side and the ‘schedule a consultation’ flow that we’d built out. 

Overall, most users found our site very easy to navigate with a perceived task difficulty of 1.7 out of 5.

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The Future

Reacting to our feedback

We were excited to dive back into our proposed solution to iterate on the feedback we'd received in testing - thought the tests were postive, there were definitely quick wins we could implement.

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We learned that people love the search bar. We had to do some brainstorming after the fact to figure out how to make the search bar more useful - we iterated by adding a location feature and redoing some of the copy to make the ability to 'Add a Project' more noticeable.

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We learned that we needed to reexamine the ‘Project Management Page’ Layout and add more pertinent information here, as this is were most users had some confusion.

So we changed project management box to add an 'upcoming appointment reminder' and made the budget and recieved quotes features more noticeable. We also, upon user feedback, moved the 'suggested contractors' from an overlay that would expand upon mouse hover to a carousel at the bottom.

Other Recommendations

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We think that our proposed solution and our recommendations for the future would genuinely make a good home services platform - we tackled some of the issues that the competitors had in this field; namely allowing their users to see the process for recommendations and letting them choose and see a contractors ratings and portfolio before they fill out a long questionnaire.