Upkeep

Designing a mobile app to find local home service professionals
OVERVIEW
About the project

Background: This was a passion project I worked on along with my summer internship work to design a better service for the home maintenance and repair tasks. This idea came to my mind based off a couple of personal experiences to get the chores done after coming to the US. My struggle to find the right expert for home maintenance work inspired me to view this as a design problem. Also, this project was a part of the 12 week summer mentorship program conducted by Hoda Pedram—Product designer at Facebook. She encouraged me to apply my design skills to solve this problem and guided me with her valuable feedback and practical strategies.

Timeline: 5 weeks

My Role: It is an independent project so I was responsible for end to end design process from understanding the problem space, ideating solutions to prototyping UI and usability testing.

Tool: Figma, Framer

Methods: Literature review, competitive analysis, survey, interviews, cognitive walkthrough

THE CHALLENGE

It is hard to find the skilled workers providing home maintenance or repair services to the residents who are in need to get the tasks done.

THE SOLUTION

A delightful mobile app experience connecting vetted local workers to the home owners and tenants in a trusted and convenient way.

THE OUTCOME
Product highlights
—— Discover services near you

A simple questionnaire to fill out the basic information about the issue and get personalized results. Questions include description of the task, location where the problem occurred, appointment scheduling, budget and payment details. Users can go back to change the response, or skip the question.

Hire upkeeper of your choice ——

Users can compare results with one another using multiple criteria such as rating, work experience, expertise level to make an informed decisions. Also, Users can connect with upkeeper to negotiate price, take remote inspection and finalize the quote before hiring the service person.

—— Get the task done and create team

A progress tracker provides additional clarity about the work being done. Users can provide a review and feedback for the service received. Also, they can add the upkeeper to their personal workforce collection for easy future reference.

THE PROCESS
How did I arrive to the solution?
USER RESEARCH
Who are the users?

Whether in a shared space with family, friends or housemates, most home services can be used by multiple individuals. I decided to design a solution for homeowners and tenants living in shared houses, apartment and hostels. Stakeholders will be the home service providers, property managers, real estate investors and house flippers.

Competitive Analysis

I examined 7 direct competitor products and services in the same domain and considered 6 indirect competitors to understand the market landscape, trends and identify gaps between the solutions available and user needs.
View competitors list

Survey

I conducted a survey to collect the quantitative data and short qualitative answers about user needs and pain points. I received 38 responses from the people with age between 25 and 40.
View survey questions

Interviews

I recruited total 7 homeowners and tenants and conducted semi-structured interviews with them. I tried to discover the user behavior and their requirements.
View interview script

USER RESEARCH
The other side

Though I didn't focus on the design of the service provider's side, I did some preliminary research to get a deeper understanding of the work environment for the general maintenance and repair workers in the US. Below are some quick facts with the quantitative data that support my intention behind this design project.

RESEARCH INSIGHTS
Major findings
Lack of trust
People tend to rely more on referrals through landlords, friends and neighbors than the misleading and confusing online search results
High cost
People face an ambiguity in the expenses incurred and often get annoyed by the hidden costs
Scattered information
Existing apps and websites do not provide a desired level of confidence and transparency to users
Safety concerns
Hiring a stranger to our house involves risk. People prefer some validation criteria to check the authenticity and skills
PROBLEM SPACE
Pain points identified
From the above major findings, I distilled 6 key pain points to be addressed by my design.
1. Different home service needs
2. Too much hassle to find a good service
3. Lack of personalization
4. Lack of safety measures
5. Time consuming process
6. High service cost
PERSONA
Understanding the residents
TASK FLOW
Identifying use case
DESIGN GOAL
Reframing the problem
How might we enable trustworthy, efficient and affordable home services for our customers in order to get chores done at home?
DESIGN GOAL
Value propositions
BRAINSTORMING
Sketching initial ideas
INFORMATION ARCHITECTURE
User flow diagram
WIREFRAMING
Iterating user interface
As I moved on to the interface design of the application, I wire-framed all key UI screens and conducted an initial user testing session.
EXPERT EVALUATION
Exploring different layouts
Iteration 1
Issue
Few services to compare in a single fold
Iteration 2
Issue
Profile picture not big enough to get the clear identity
Iteration 3
Design decision
Bigger picture to provide more clarity about worker's identity
VISUAL DESIGN
High fidelity Design
1. Splash screen
2. Sign in
3. Welcome Screen
4. Onboarding- task info
5. Onboarding - location
6. Onboarding - schedule
7. Onboarding - payment
8. Home
9. Message
10. Remote inspection
11. Progress tracker
12. Reviews
13. Project log
14. Collection
PRODUCT TESTING
Evaluations & walkthroughs

I conducted informal and formal walkthroughs for the usability evaluations. Informal testing was done online by using a Figma desktop prototype & the formal testing was done in-person with the Figma mirror mobile app.

Informal online walkthroughs
I gave an informal walkthrough to 4 people soliciting their feedback. Evaluators were home owners and tenants from the age group 25-40. I used Figma's prototype presentation feature to show them the designs. All four provided me with some valuable feedback for further exploration and design.

Formal in-person walkthroughs
I recruited three participants from my neighborhood to test out high fidelity prototype. I asked each of them complete a task that utilizes primary features of the app and to think aloud the experience, thoughts or ideas regarding the prototype.

From the testing, I hoped to answers for following questions:
1. Are the features of application are useful when users are hiring a service person?
2. Is this application easy to use? (Will the user know how to use this application)?
3. Are there any changes need to be made to improve this application?

Key findings from testing
Overall, the participants were very positive toward the prototype. Most of them did not have issues in completing tasks and appreciated the simplicity of design. One participant mentioned that the app feels "inviting" and "makes me feel definitely not a scam". Another participant mentioned about the necessity of additional help when the emergency situation arises at night time. Furthermore, one participant asked a thought provoking question about the edge cases- "what if no one has the availability?" and "what if I want to repeat the same task again?"

CONCLUSION
Reflection & learning
I started working on this project because of my personal experience with the home services in the US. I was wondering "Why there are no maintenance and repair workers readily available like there are in India? Why are these services so expensive?" These questions motivated me to solve this problem with my design knowledge. As my research progressed, I could not only validate my assumptions but also educate myself about various other factors associated to this ecosystem such as labor employment policies, minimum wage requirements, use & throw or single-use products, DIY culture, privacy, etc.

I learned how property managers hire service workers on contract and take care of these tasks for tenants. Identifying a new stakeholder called "home flippers" added another user group to the target audience. This project helped me to understand the importance of business perspective in general and helping me to strike the balance between business goals and user goals. I'm thankful to my mentor— Hoda Pedram for providing me with her valuable guidance and bringing the best out of me.
Additional discussion

Points that are not covered in the case study and I would like to discuss in person:

Thank you for reading!
© Designed with 👨🏻‍💻 by Shriyash Shete