As part of my course with CareerFoundry, I was tasked with creating a solution for connecting users to experts. With people becoming increasingly aware of the impact they are having on the planet and wanting to minimise it, having a sustainable zero carbon emission home is a growing trend. Whether you're making your existing house more eco friendly or building one from the ground up, people with the knowledge and expertise in this area are becoming more in demand. Eco Builds wants to take advantage of this growing trend and position itself as the go-to platform that gives its users access to experts in this field.
The main challenge I faced was identifying and empathising with the target user. I didn’t have first hand experience of taken on a construction project. Understanding who the target user was and under what circumstances they would be using Eco Builds was key to the app being beneficial and relevant to a target audience.
June 2020 - September 2020
Adobe XD, Balsamiq, pen & paper, recorder, Zoom
USER CENTERED DESIGN PROCESS
1 - Research
To ensure I fully understood the challenge, I set about identifying and understanding who the end user is and the problem they're facing by conducting interviews with individuals who had experience of building projects. I also wanted to see how others had solved the challenge before me, investigating the experience they had created of searching, messaging and talking to an expert.
2 - Concept
Once the research phase was complete, the concept started coming to life. Thought was given to the information architecture of the site and task analysis. This was all pieced together to create low fidelity sketches which evolved into mid fidelity screen designs which were used to create a clickable prototype.
3 - Prototype & Usability Testing
With a clickable prototype in hand, I set about conducting usability testing sessions with 6 individuals providing great insight on where my prototype could be improved. After multiple rounds of iteration, coming up with style documentation and taking into account accessibility, I share my final screen designs at the end.
There are no direct competitors that focus solely on connecting users to experts in eco building. However there are platforms which advertise experts across a large number of different fields of expertise, these include The One, Expert Republic, OnCall, Jinitto and Clarity. None of the platforms are particularly well known with many of them being new to the market.
Sites which specialise in connecting users to building and construction experts act more as a directory, connecting people to tradespeople who could complete the job for them. Competitors in this space include Checkatrade, Findatrade, Bark, My Builder and Rated People.
The One - SWOT & UX Analysis
Interviews & Affinity Mapping
Three individuals were interviewed. The main research goals of conducting the sessions were to understand:
In what context would people use Eco Builds?
Who would be Eco Builds' target user?
What would give experts credibility?
Interviews were recorded, transcribed and then analysed using Affinity Mapping.
Key insights that came from the sessions include:
Seeing reviews before using a service makes users trust it.
People with experience in building or a restricting budget are likely to take on more of a building project themselves.
If an individual hires a contractor to do the work, they won't seek additional advice, therefore Eco Builds would more likely be used by individuals who are taking on more building work themselves.
Advice given over a video call needs to be personalised and have some level of complexity making it not readily accessible online.
With hindsight, I hadn't identified who would be the target user at the beginning. I interviewed people who had experience with construction projects but I realised I needed to focus on a more specific niche, individuals who would complete the majority of the construction work themselves. I didn’t have the opportunity to speak to a target user.
“I want to be self-sustainable and minimize my impact on the planet, but I don’t want to break the bank to get there.”
31 yrs old, Teacher
GOALS & NEEDS
Emily wants to build her house.
She has a tight budget, using savings and a small loan that she'll repay in <10years.
She wants her home to be completely self-sufficient in the future.
She doesn’t want hire workmen to do tasks which she could easily do herself with help from family if she has access to the right guidance.
She is unsure what would be the best approach to building an eco house for her specific case.
She’s frustrated by spending money on rent and by how expensive property is to buy.
Post research phase, the concept began coming to life. Task flows were thought out, to identify what exactly the user would need to do to accomplish specific tasks. Next, I conducted open card sorting sessions to review the information architecture of the site and reflect on different mental models. Once the layout of the site was thought out, I began designing low fidelity wireframes which evolved to high fidelity screen designs.
I conducted sort card sessions remotely with five individuals. Looking at the results from the session, 40% of participants grouped video calling with messaging features which has been done by main social platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp. To simplify the site map, I placed the video call feature within the messaging area. This would allow the user to see all interaction with one person in the same place. To remind users of future calls, I would place them in the same area as saved experts and also give them the option to add to their calendar..
Wireframes - Low & Mid Fidelity
USABILITY TESTS & PROTOTYPE
The End Result
Six individuals took part in the moderated usability tests. Two tests took place in person and four tests were conducted over zoom.
The key features being tested were:
Signing up and creating a profile
Finding an expert
Messaging an expert
Booking a call with an expert
Taking a call with an expert and reviewing it
The usability tests address some key issues that I addressed:
1) 33% participants needed help to find the book a call option after messaging an expert. As a result I added a book a call button to the conversation page with the expert on the expert and the user have exchanged messages. This would avoid user's having to go back to the expert's profile to book a call.
2) Participants asked why uploading a picture was necessary for this type of app. For the final product uploading a picture won’t be a requirement for using the app however to make the user testing experience more authentic, uploading a picture became optional in the prototype.
3) Participants wanted a clear breakdown of reviews to pinpoint the reason for an expert’s overall review. In response I wanted to enable users to make an informed decision, ratings would be split and based upon a number of different factors that give an overall score. Users will be able to see these by directly clicking on "see reviews" from the search page and by clicking reviews on the expert's page.
4) 50% of participants didn't feel comfortable having their card details saved. Therefore to make a more authentic user testing experience, the save card details will become a clickable feature which user’s will have the choice to add.
After finalising the style documentation, multiple rounds of iterations and taking into account accessibility, I am please to be share the final screen designs.
You've made it to the end! Thank you for taking the time to review my work. If you like what you see, please don't hesitate to get in touch to collaborate. My contact details can be found below.