This is how the startup can improve their visual design framework to keep more users from going elsewhere.
HomeShare has created a housing platform for Millennials that enables affordable city living in shared apartments, with roommates matched based on personality to ensure everyone lives happily. They have partnered with over 26 apartment complexes across the U.S. and have a consumer-facing website as a primary sales driver.
At its core, HomeShare is an apartment search tool. I focused my design efforts to create a better brand experience that increases credibility and gets users into the apartment they want, in the same amount of time it takes to book a hotel room.
I analyzed the visual designs of similar startups to understand the current online landscape. It informed high-level design changes and branding updates that would help HomeShare stand out in the crowded space of apartment searching.
User Archetype and New User Flow
Based on user feedback and a general understanding of the landscape, I created a user archetype for a typical Millennial apartment-seeker. Their overall motivations surrounded balancing cost, quality, amenities, and location to choose the best-fitting property. I also drafted the current user flow, as well as a new design, focused on increasing application rates. I highlighted a handful of steps that could turn casual visitors into potential customers.
I analyzed the user flow and research data to define Red Routes in order to identify, prioritize, and eliminate any usability obstacles. The analysis revealed four focus areas that I could successfully tackle through new designs.
- Brand trust (overall improvement area)
- Visual design (updating brand appeal)
- Copywriting (website comprehension)
- Usability (increasing application rates)
My paramount goal was to address brand trust, usability, and visual design by updating the HomeShare website based on feedback. Therefore, I outlined three success metrics for my designs:
- Improve brand trustworthiness by ≥20%
- Improve usability by ≥15%
- A/B test >65% in favor of new design
Based on user feedback that consistently mentioned brand trustworthiness, I created a mood board to inspire a clean design pattern, with foundations in e-commerce, marketing, and hospitality.
Build & Test
I rebuilt thee existing pages with a focus on brand trust, using a combination of design best practices, templates, and inspiration from industry leading websites. To meet the design sprint deadlines, I jumped into high-fidelity prototypes in Sketch, using a design system from Great Simple Studio.
To test my prototypes, I asked questions about specific design improvements, created preference tests to determine what prototypes users preferred. 83 testers gave feedback on 2 prototypes that created 102 data points. Most feedback was positive, with the majority of comments focusing on information architecture and layout. Qualitative results are here.
Based on feedback, I created a new brand and color scheme that reflects Millennial’s taste for excitement, simplicity, and accessibility. The new logo and brand flips the brand on it’s head, swapping darker, unappealing colors for a fluorescent palette.
After a significant round of user testing, I finalized the second version of the prototype — focusing on the original goal to engage new users and improve brand trust.
I successfully tested the prototype against the current website and found the new designs had exceeded performance indicators in the following areas:
- 73% of testers preferred the new homepage over the current design
- +21% increase in brand trustworthiness
- +19% increase in homepage usability
- Favorites tool (on/off states, favorites list)
- Simple online application
- Identity management
- Expand design system throughly
- Outreach emails
The goal of this 5 day sprint was to address usability, visual design, and branding by updating the website based on user feedback. If HomeShare caters to Millennials, they should be creating a website that excites them, stands out from the crowd, and makes apartment hunting a seamless (and fun) experience.