Livably

Providing seniors the information to make informed choices on choosing a new home in a new community.

Project Overview

As my final project for General Assembly's User Experience Design course, I chose to create a mobile experience for AARP's Livability Index. The Livability Index scores communities based on housing, neighborhoods, transportation, environment, health, engagement, and opportunities. It's a tool for consumers and policymakers to view the livability score of any neighborhood. The Livability Index encourages people to take action and have conversations on how to make their communities more livable.

Role:

  • User Researcher
  • UX / UI Designer
View Final Presentation

The Challenge

The Livability Index's primary users are policymakers who want to spark conversations or change within communities. For this project, I wanted to explore a different use case for this product. I re-imagined this version of the Livability Index to cater to older adults who are exploring the idea of relocating to a new community. About 42% of Boomers want to move or downsize; however, they need reliable tools and resources to compare neighborhoods to make informed life-changing decisions.

The Audience

  • People who are 50 and older.
  • In the process of moving or thinking about moving.

Understanding The Market & Demographics

User Interviews + Personas:

To better understand the mentality and the needs of older adults, I conducted in-person interviews with seniors who have recently moved or in the mindset of finding a new home. I also interviewed realtors to have a different perspective and understanding of what it's like on their end. Some key learnings were:

  • "Being able to compare" was a common phrase/theme that kept popping up, whether if it was to compare houses or the neighborhood—it was a commonality amongst the interviews.
  • Users utilized the internet to find more information about the neighborhood that their possible new home resided. However, they found it too cumbersome as they had to open up different windows and tabs to compare communities. 
  • Most sites visited or referred to had too much content, lousy user experience, or geared towards purchasing a new home rather than information about a neighborhood.
  • Users were interested in moving to a warmer climate or closer to their families. 
  • Realtors expressed that the majority of their older clients do not think about proximity to healthcare, parks, grocery stores, or the overall engagement within a community. Often their clients find the right home, but not the right neighborhood.

Based off what I heard during my interviews, I created three personas to represent the possible users of my solution:

Competitive Research:

Within my conversations, I also asked my participants which sites they used to find information about homes or neighborhoods. Most popular sites were:

  • Zillow
  • Redfin
  • c21Redwood
  • Niche
  • Street Advisor

I visited all websites, taking notes on their main features, strengths, and areas that need development. I then created a competitive analysis chart to help identify critical elements for my version of the Livability Index. The criteria were:

  • The visual aesthetic and usability of the site.
  • Search and save features.
  • How the website drives engagement through additional features.

Through this analysis, I discovered that the Livability Index needed a lot of improvement when it came to aesthetics and usability. One of its most potent, useful and unique feature—being able to compare neighborhoods— was buried through layers of information. To also add, the user was not able to save their searches or favorite neighborhoods—a feature that the Livability Index lacked. So the two elements that I decided to highlight within my MVP were to compare and save.

Design & Iteration

With the valuable insight gained from the user interviews and competitive analysis, I utilized the MSCW method to prioritize additional features for the prototype.

To start, I created a paper prototype. I ran a quick user test to understand the flow, interest, and functionality of the app. Key insights were:

  • Having the option to input multiple zip codes was exceptionally convenient.
  • Users wondered if you had to input more than one zip code to move forward.
  • They had questions on scoring, such as how they create them, what each mean, and the criteria used to score each category.
  • Users were concerned about being overwhelmed with too much information.
View paper prototype

The insights gained from these quick ad-hoc user tests helped me further develop my solution to the next level of fidelity. I came up with the name "Livably" to add a fun spin— yet still reference where the idea came from—the Livability Index.

User Testing:

I facilitated five usability tests to gain feedback and gauge the interest of the prototype. To do this, I provided two tasks, followed by a series of questions in between to understand their expectations:

  • Task 1: Add multiple zip codes and compare locations.
  • Task 2: Favorite / save a location.

Overall the prototype met the needs of my participants. The major takeaways from the tests were:

  • The buttons were a bit small, and users wished they were bigger. They expressed that as older adults, "the bigger, the better." All in all, legibility had to be improved.
  • There was too much information and content provided, which became jarring and overwhelming to some users. 
  • The overall experience navigating the app was positive, and no changes to the flow was needed.

Taking an iterative approach, I took the comments and feedback from the second round of testing as guidelines and updated my designs.

View current prototype

Next Steps

Though I have completed the User Experience Design course by General Assembly—I still have a few things in mind to further refine my solution:

  • Revisit earlier research and conduct a broader range of surveys to understand the mentality of older adults and the process of relocating. 

  • Further refine designs and find the right balance of information for the user

  • Conduct additional usability testing once all re-designs are complete. 

Selected Works.

Project Name: TransZen
Roles: User Researcher, UX / UI Designer, Product Manager
Brief: TransZen is a mobile app that helps trans individuals find health care professionals who are well informed and sensitive to the needs of trans individuals.

View case study.

Project Name: AARP Cart Revamp
Roles: Design Thinker, Facilitator, User Researcher, Creative Director
Brief: We have developed a new design for a mobile cart to improve the mobility and presence of AARP within events.

View case study.

Project Name: TipJar
Roles: Design Thinker, Facilitator, User Researcher, Creative Director
Brief: TipJar is an online community for caregivers to connect with other caregivers to find helpful tips and information related to caregiving.

View case study.