As an interaction designer, I had the privilege to work on a project aimed at improving the user experience of funda, a prominent real estate platform in the Netherlands. This case study provides an overview of my approach, methodologies, and outcomes in tackling the challenges faced by users and the business. It is important to note that Funda was a non-official client for this school project.
The primary objective of this project was to prioritize funda's users throughout the design process. funda's main purpose is to assist users in finding their ideal home based on their specific requirements. However, the existing platform had usability issues, including difficulties in locating previously viewed properties and navigating through numerous filters. By adopting a user-centered approach, my goal was to address these challenges and create a more enjoyable, intuitive, and distinctive house-hunting experience.
I based my approach on the loop by IBM, which provided a solid framework for addressing complex design problems. Throughout the project, I embraced a continuous cycle of observing, reflecting, and creating, together known as "the loop." This methodology ensured that the user remained central to the design process, allowing for ongoing insights, problem-solving, and iteration. By continuously going through the loop, I refined and iterated my designs, aligning them closely with user requirements and desires.
"The loop," also known as the never-ending cycle, involves understanding the present and imagining the future through continuous observation, reflection, and creation. As an interaction designer, I chose to work within this loop because the user is at the heart of my process, and new insights, problems, and opportunities always emerge. By continuously iterating, the products improve over time, ensuring that the end product aligns as closely as possible with users' requirements, desires, and needs.
To start the project, I conducted user interviews, as they play a central role in my process. Following the recommended guidelines from NNG, I conducted seven interviews with individuals of different ages and backgrounds, all of whom were funda users with varying goals and usage patterns. Some primarily used the mobile app, while others preferred the desktop version. The interviews aimed to uncover their motivations for using funda. To gain a deeper understanding of their platform usage, I also conducted contextual inquiries and trunk tests.
In addition to the field research, I conducted desk research on the platform, stakeholders, and competitors. This research provided me with a comprehensive understanding of how housing platforms operate and why they follow certain design patterns.
The user research and desk research revealed that funda was a useful tool but suffered from a lack of clarity. The platform overwhelmed users with numerous options and excessive information, resulting in confusion and information overload. Users struggled to find houses that matched their needs due to the overwhelming number of listings and inadequate filters. This insight led me to ask the question: "How can I help users navigate through the houses on funda to find their dream home?"
Based on the insights gathered, I collaborated with the project team, consisting of Interaction Designers, to brainstorm potential solutions. Inspired by the experience of a curated boat tour in the Amsterdam canals, we envisioned a similar concept for the funda platform. This concept, called Visitour, aimed to provide users with an immersive experience of their dream houses. By following a curated route, users could explore selected properties and gain comprehensive information about the houses and their neighborhoods, helping them envision their potential future homes.
Visitour is a digital platform designed to offer users an immersive house-hunting experience. Users have the flexibility to create personalized routes or browse pre-arranged categories tailored to their individual needs and interests. These categories are based on users' preferences and search history, ensuring a personalized and relevant experience. The routes guide users through a selection of houses, initially showcasing popular properties and progressively tailoring the route to match their specific interests and search behavior.
The platform facilitates seamless navigation through the route, which can be accessed directly from the homepage. Users can start following a route without distractions, as the website's design prioritizes an uninterrupted experience. Once users select a route, they receive an overview of the chosen route. From there, they can begin exploring the houses along the route, delve deeper into house details and surrounding neighborhoods, and easily navigate to the next house if a particular property doesn't pique their interest. At the end of the route, users receive a comprehensive overview of all the houses visited, with options to view each house in detail or filter the view based on their preferences. Users can revisit any house for further exploration or comparison, ensuring a clear and organized experience.
To make the Visitour concept tangible, we initiated the wireframing process. One of my teammates introduced the "Art Gallery" method, where each team member presented their wireframe sketches, creating an exhibition-like display. By using Post-Its to mark the most promising aspects of various sketches, we created a heat map to identify the strongest elements. Based on these marked sketches, we developed multiple wireframes through iterative testing and validation with users, leading us to the final design.
The landing page of the platform has been meticulously designed to enable users to start their route immediately. Users are presented with the option to scroll down and explore "recommended" routes. This concept draws inspiration from personalized playlists on Spotify, where playlists are curated specifically for each user. In a similar manner, the routes we have created cater to individual preferences and needs.
The core functionality of the platform revolves around following routes. To facilitate this, we have developed a search bar that instantly generates a personalized route for the user. The design of the search bar prioritizes minimalism and ease of use, ensuring a seamless and user-friendly experience. When users click on the search bar, an engaging animation zooms in on the map, revealing the customized route created exclusively for them. From this point onward, users can begin exploring their dream houses with just a few clicks.