FANGFANG

Project type
UX Design Internship
Approach
Primary research, Wire framing, Usability testing, UI Design, Prototyping,

FangFang is a virtual assistant that collects both housing and roommate information for struggling renters

The project was done for 58.Inc in Beijing, China. I was responsible for the research and the design of this project. I collaborated with data analysts, UI / UX designers, researchers, design leads and product managers in the company. After I left the company, I wanted to make it better, so I took the design forward by myself and sent it back to my manager.  

Project goals:
1. Understand pain points and develop personas.
2. Differentiate from competitors through innovation.
3. Propose design solutions for 58 Pinzu Project.
“What can I do? This is not my house... I rent it.”
— Mr. Li
“I just entered society. Even though I don’t like what they did, I want to avoid conflicts. Living in the same house, it shouldn’t be too awkward. ”
— Miss Jiao
Problem
It’s really hard for renters to find good roommates and a nice home at the same time.

1. People gradually lose their patience throughout the process.
2. Passive communication brings problems between roommates.
3. People feel helpless and in pain but there is nothing they can do

Solution
FangFang is a virtual assistant that collects both housing and roommate information and creates groups for struggling renters.  
Our goal is to help renters find a comfortable home in this bustling city. It’s an efficient and simple way to offer people a perfect match.  

In the app, every information is in the "house group." Every group has three sections: chat, housing info, and group information. Each group member's information is under group information section. And people can find every person's requirements by clicking their profile image.  

All group chats are created by landlords or agencies. During the posting process, they will also put group constraints on the chat such as emergency level, group member numbers, time and so on.
HOW IT WORKS

Join the group chat and check group info

You can make your considerations by chatting with the rest of the group members and browsing the housing info. To do so, click the “list” button, you can check out the price and amenities of each room.

Type location & search groups

Type any address, city, zip code or neighborhood, and we help you match with appropriate groups.

View roommate's profile and make your decision

If you are curious, click on the group members’ profile picture to learn more about them. Besides their basic info, you can see your similarities, their lifestyle, personality, interests, and their expectations on their profiles.  

To improve efficiency, you have a limited time to consider, after that you need to confirm this group, move to the waiting list instead, or quit this group.
OVERALL process

The internship was 3 month, I was mainly responsible for conducting user research and proposing design principles for the 58 Pinzu project. And I finished the final design prototype after I got back to the US by myself.

Research - Discover & Define
I led the user research for this project. We sent out 200 surveys and conducted user interviews with 15 people. Insights were transformed in to "How Might We" statements.

Design - Develop & Deliver
By using the "how might we statements." I organized three brainstorming events in the company. Over 60 people participated in our events and produced 300+ ideas. After talking to stakeholders and other designers, we decided on the design direction.

Research methods

In the first two months, I collaborated with data scientists, other researchers and designers during the research process. Empathy maps, the mental model, personas and other affinity diagrams made it easier to communicate with the team.

Core customer needs
Do we really understand them?
And we found the problem...
“I don’t know how to say it... my male roommate always reveals his upper body... It is really embarrassing.” — Miss Fan

“It’s always the landlord decides who will live here. Well... as long as you give him money, he will allow you to move in. I mean... it’s his house, I can’t choose roommates.” — Mr. Chai

Finding good roommates and a nice home at the same time is a hard thing. Because:
1. People gradually lose their patience throughout the process.
2. Roommates' passive communication brings problems.
People feel helpless, and are struggling, but feel there is nothing they can do.  
So, how might we help renters to find appropriate home and roommates at the same time?
Problems
Insights
HMW
Researching, digesting information and negotiating are inefficient for renters.
People gradually lose their patience throughout the process.
How might we help renters to make the right decision?
It's hard to know roommates' personalities, lifestyles and interests beforehand.
Passive communication brings problems
How might we build trust between different renters?
The overall experience is complicated, and a lot of unexpected things would happen.
People feel helpless and in pain but there is nothing they can do.
How might we create an overall simple and comfortable experience?
IDEATION

I organized three ideation events in the company. Over 60 people participated and devoted 300+ ideas including researchers, UX designers, UI designers, design leads, and product managers.

Asking for feedback is an efficient way to iterate concepts. By presenting our findings and ideas to people, we gradually simplified our strategy — to connect housing and roommate info to improve users’ searching efficiency. I then highlighted the more plausible ideas.

DESIGN AND ITERATION
Design 1.0

This was the biggest challenge came -- we had 300+ ideas. Even though I filtered some of them, we still have 40+ great ideas left. I didn't just want to throw them away, because all these great ideas were from my colleges. At that time, I only had two weeks left not including scheduling a presentation.  

Design 2.0

So, I decided to use most of the selected ideas. And this was my biggest mistake. "It's too much... maybe you have way too many features." After the presentation, my team gave me this feedback. Besides this comment, they also told me the things in the program they liked and what they disliked.  

My internship ended in August, and I had to go back to the U.S. I knew that I could do it better. It was almost there, so I knew I had to keep going.  

Our team loved my research. I knew that all I need to was, "focus." So, I took everything that I had back to my school and finished the final design by myself. And this time, I received a lot of positive feedback.

Design 2.1

Even though I got back to the U.S, I was still able to test my ideas by my own. Not only Chinese testers, I also curious about how people live in the U.S would think about Fangfang. I recruited ten people to test my idea across China and the United States.

Surprisingly, 100% of them said they like my idea. 40% of them even asked me whether they can use this app.  

"Wow. I like it a lot! I really need this. Finding roommates and a home is really painful."
— Wei Si
Test and Iterations

Based on the feedback from ten interview participants. There were a few main changes and iterations -- filter, group info page and group roles.  

See the detailed iterations >

Final Idea

1. Type the location

Type any address, city, zip code or neighborhood, and we will help you to find a home in this area.

2. Join the group and pick your room

You can show your interest by chatting with the rest of the group members and browsing the housing info. Plus, you can check out the price and amenities of each room to make your own decision.

3. Make decision

Whenever you need, FangFang is always here to help 24/7.
VIDEO EDITTING

We are the young generation. We may come from different cities, but we are trying to survive in the same place to fulfill our dreams. And I'm one of them. We all are trying to find home and a sense of belongs in another city.


However, life is not easy... people are overwhelmed with stress from the cost of living. Rising rents is one of the biggest problems.
 We need a “home”. It doesn’t need to be too fancy, but at least, comfortable enough for us to get a good nights sleep.

lEARNINGS

Focus, focus, focus.

The biggest mistake that I made is trying to combine too many ideas in one design. When there are too many things in one app, people will feel lost. I learned this lesson, and learned how to prioritize things based on their impacts.

And this is not the end of this project, I still need to run a few rounds of usability tests and iterations to fix some issues.

Working with the team.

The biggest mistake that I made is trying to combine too many ideas in one design. When there are too many things in one app, people will feel lost. I learned this lesson, and learned how to prioritize things based on their impacts.

And this is not the end of this project, I still need to run a few rounds of usability tests and iterations to fix some issues. This was the first time that I got to know the real world, talk to real people and solve their real problems. I still remember at the end of the interviews, my interviewees asked me whether their voices would be heard. I said yes. I was really proud when I presented my research results to the company. Everyone was really into what I found out. I made it, and I not only allowed their voices to be heard by the company, but also helped millions of users in China.  Working with data analytics, researchers makes me realize the magic of data and how to build empathy with our customers.It was a really unforgettable working experience for me, which I am proud of.
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