Procall

Designing an MVP to connect remodelers to A/E/C (Architecture, Engineering, and Construction) professionals for scheduled video consultations.

 

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The Overview

While the US economy shrank by 3.5% in 2020, spending on home improvements/renovations increased by 3% to $420 billion. Many people, now spending way more time at home, now needed spaces to work, study, and attend school. The role and design of our homes are changing more rapidly now than ever.

Project Goals are twofold:
1. Make it easier for renovators to connect with A/E/C professionals.

2. Provide A/E/C professionals the opportunity to quickly reach clients.

Role and Duration

Role: Product Designer + UX Researcher

Timeline: Fall 2021 - 80 hours

Tools: Figma, Whimscal, Maze

Solution

We designed an end-to-end marketplace app allowing renovators to search for, select, and schedule video consultations with A/E/C professionals. A fully functional prototype was developed to gauge professional interest. 

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Professional Search 

Professionals can be searched for by job type, location, or by specific tasks the homeowner would like help with. Tags on the profile pages let the user know what their professional can help with.

I added a tagging feature after uncovering that renovators often did not know which type of professional to turn to for the right type of guidance.

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Scheduling a Call

After the Pro has been selected, users can check out consultant availability and select a preferred consultation time. 

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Intake Forms

Details project intake forms are a breeze to complete. After consulting with A/E/C professionals I designed the forms to capture just enough information to make consultations successful, without requiring the renovator to know the full project extents. 

 

Key Research Questions

I started my user research by listing goals and assumptions. I realized quickly that for this product to be impactful, I needed to verify some key assumptions. I developed the following research goals to guide my research process. 

1. Do homeowners struggle with home improvement projects?
2. How can homeowners be best assisted with a renovation project?
3. Are professionals interested in working with clients on short-term projects?

I started the process with user interviews - scheduling time to chat with both remodelers and A/E/C professionals.  

User Interviews - Remodelers

I conducted interviews with five participants, three female, and two male. All were between the ages of 30 and 55 and had all completed a home renovation project within the last 5 years. My research goal was to understand the challenges they went through on renovation projects. These conversations uncovered three insights universally felt by the interviewees. 

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Now that I had a baseline understanding of some of the experiences and pain points Remodelers are facing, it seemed like a good time to transition to the other side of the marketplace and talk with professionals. 

User Interviews - Professionals

I scheduled 3 1-on-1 interviews with A/E/C Professionals that lasted 30 minutes. Each professional was a solo practitioner and located on the West Coast. I spoke with an Architect, an Interior Designer, and a Landscape Architect. It was generally more difficult to schedule these interviews, after unsuccessfully cold calling several local firms, I ended up depending on my professional network to find candidates for interviews.

My goal for these conversations was to learn about how professionals prefer to work, understand the current pain points they experience, and look for opportunities to streamline these workflows. These conversations led to the following insights: 

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User Personas

With the key insights and needs identified from each of my user groups: Remodelers and Professionals, I crafted personas that referenced the behaviors and needs of each user group.

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Defining the Problem

To start to solve some of the pain points Sarah and Keith are facing I started brainstorming a list of "How might we..." questions. These questions were developed by reviewing user interviews notes and checking against our personas.  After creating the initial questions, I started thinking about possible answers.

How might we: 
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Defining our Solution

I took the potential solutions and compared them against each other, studying which solution could solve more customer pain points. In the end, a marketplace app that connects the two user groups solved most of the "how might we" questions.

Application Map

I started building an application map informing the overall organization for the A/E/C marketplace app. One of the early challenges was figuring out how to organize the professional side of the app from the remodeler side of the app. I decided to pursue an option with a Professional Login Portal, keeping their profile editing abilities separate from the other features.

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Sketching

With a general sense of the navigation, and requirements for each page I quickly ideated by doing Crazy 8’s. I focused on key screens like the home page, profile page, and search page. I selected favorites that matched the key requirements and prioritized key features like the professional search.  

 

Scope Creep! Ah! 

My largest constraint for this project was time.

Initially, I had planned on prototyping both sides of the app, the professional portal and the remodeler experience. However, based on the time constraints I had to move forward with just the remodeler side.

I had allowed the initial scope to expand a little too large and unfortunately had to pull back for this MVP. I decided that for the time being professional schedules would have to be manually input and adjusted. 

Lo-fi Prototype Testing

After pulling sketches into Figma, and developing the conceptual designs further I developed a low fidelity prototype to test with my primary user group, remodelers. I kept the component design simple and nondescript so users could focus on the experience and flow rather than the interface design. 

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I conducted remote usability testing over Zoom. My goal was to have users search for professionals and book a consultation. I created an affinity map with the results which alerted me to common struggles users were having. 

Design Revisions

Looking through my transcripts and at the affinity map, it was clear that participants thought the project intake experience could be improved.

Here I reached out to my professionals and asked them to also take a look at the intake form. All remarked how short it was and felt they would need more information to hold a successful consultation. Revisions included adding several screens where users could select options that applied to their project. Keeping in mind an earlier insight that lots of remodelers don't know exactly what their project needs, there is an option to skip as well. 

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Design Development

With learning from the initial prototype testing, I started developing the designs for each screen and component. I kept referring to Sarah (our persona, remember her!). How would she want to be introduced to this app? I started building out the onboarding screens keeping new users in mind. This is our first impression, a chance to build trust with users and introduce them to our design language. 

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Our search and navigation pages share the same design language. The strong, bold text stands out against the app's deep green color story. Users can search for professionals by type, location, or specific task they need help with.

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High-Fidelity Prototype Testing

I had 12 users complete usability testing remotely. These testers confirmed that the app was easy to use, and they were able to perform 100% of the specific tasks asked of them. 

Not everything was working as intended though - I discovered some user frustrations on the final confirmation page.

  • 5/12 users mentioned being confused on the final confirmation page. They were unsure if the text was clickable or how editing would work. That feedback informed quick edits to the confirmation page and adding in edit icons. 
  • 3/12 users mentioned that they could not remember how much the confirmation would cost after entering project details. We added the total cost to the CTA so users would know exactly what to expect.
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Test the Prototype yourself! 

Book a consultation with an Interior Designer. 

Lessons Learned

Test with the right users

While working through the project intake forms, I found myself turning to testing to confirm that users did not feel overwhelmed with the amount of information requested. What I failed to consider was the information intake from the professional's side and this was brought up to me by a remodeler tester who asked the question:” Would my Interior Designer have all they needed from me to be successful during our call?” I realized that I needed to test the remodeler information flow not only with the users of the flow but with the professionals whose success could be impacted by the results. 

Increased Scope = Increased time 

As the project schedule and other time constraints were being set, I realized that the Professional side of the application was not specifically included within the project schedule or target deliverables list. If those additional features were to have been included, we would have known that the scope would have had to be increased, or other compromises made to meet the time constraints. I learned here that the more specific a project is scoped out, the easier it is to recognize when you have taken on too much.

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Lets build great products together!

Thanks for stopping by, contact me at: Saitelbachj@gmail.com 

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