Property management app design

UX Design Project, Fall 2020

The House Brownie is a property management app for tracking maintenance issues and inspections. The app provides centralised communication for authorised users, including tenants and property managers/landlords.

1 – Understand needs

User work roles

The profile and motivations of the user work roles are as follows:

Property manager

Hands-on, proactive, accountable for home health & safety. Conducts regular inspections. Maintains friendly, responsive relationship with both owner and tenants. Handles a lot of properties at once. Wants to save money and/or time, be more efficient, and uphold reputation of property management company.

Tenant

Profile is known to property manager and owner. Could be an individual, couple or group of flatmates. May have pets, kids. Feels anxiety about passing inspections and being a “good tenant”. Want things in the house fixed as soon as possible so that it’s safe and healthy to live in.

Property owner

Hands-off, does not communicate with tenants except through property manager, hires some contractors while delegating other jobs to the property manager, relies on property management to keep home safe and secure. Wants reassurance that their property is safe and in good hands with the tenant and property management company. 

Research

I also looked at similar apps in the New Zealand market such as MyRent.co.nz and Re-leased.com, noting what kind of features they’re offering and what kind of users they’re targeting.

I did not interview anyone to design this app for the course, but if I could, I would interview the following people for qualitative research and make user work notes based on these interviews:

  • My current property manager, to validate the concerns and motivations of residential property managers; as well as my dad who is a commercial property manager, to see if there’s anything relevant to residential property management 
  • Friends who also rent homes, to validate the concerns and motivations of tenants 
  • A homeowner who rents out their property to tenants 

As a tenant myself, I found some artefacts to show the tasks of tenants and property managers.

2 – Design solutions

Use cases

After identifying the user work roles, I made a mind map in Miro with detailed hypotheses about these users.

Mind map in Miro

Product features

I used the mind map to generate ideas and identify key features for the House Brownie.

User groups

Each app user should have a designated role so that the communication flows in specified directions. For example, tenants and owners do not communicate with each other. Tenants are associated with contact information like name, phone number and address. Tenants can add some more details about their home for contractors like pets, parking and keys. There can be a primary tenant, one per property, and secondary tenants who can view and comment on updates but are not used as points of contact. 

Inspection status updates

Property managers can inform tenants and/or owners when:

  • A new inspection is scheduled
  • A scheduled inspection is changed
  • A scheduled inspection is complete, with any notes from the property manager

Tenants can leave comments on the status updates. 

Maintenance issue list

Property managers can populate the list of maintenance issues based on the entry report. Issues may include the location inside/outside the house, a description of the issue, and photo attachments. Tenants can report maintenance issues at any time, but will be reminded to do so when an inspection is scheduled. They’re encouraged to share photos and videos. Both property managers & homeowners can see the list of issues and update the status of the issue from new to pending, contractor scheduled, or complete. They can also change the priority order of the issues. Both can also assign a contractor to a particular issue, which will start a work order for the contractor. All users will all be notified when an issue is added or the status of an issue is changed by anyone else.

Personas

Persona for property manager

Prav S. Property Portfolio Manager, 30s, Auckland, New Zealand

“It is the interaction with people from all walks of life that I love about working in the real estate industry. I meet someone different every day.”

Speaks English • Hindi • Fijian

Bio. Single. Grew up in Hamilton. Earned Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Victoria University in Wellington. Moved to Auckland in 2015 for work. Previously worked in hospitality and business management.

Personality. Organised, likes what’s tried-and-true, confident, friendly, outgoing.

Goals. Make tenants feel safe and happy. Reassure homeowners. Solve problems for his colleagues, tenants and homeowners.

Likes. Diversity. Urban lifestyle. Charity work. Rugby.

Dislikes. Poor customer service. Incompetence. Prejudice and ethnocentrism.

Affinities. SPCA, Starship Children’s Hospital, Friends of Fiji Health, UNESCO, NZ National Party

3 – Prototype candidates

Storyboard

I created a storyboard using Storyboard That for how users would use the House Brownie app to add a maintenance issue prior to a scheduled inspection.

Wireframes

I sketched some frames on paper, then created lo-fidelity wireframes in Axure.

Paper sketches

Paper sketches

My wireframe for adding an issue (no interaction, low fidelity) was in Axure: https://jdajiv.axshare.com

4 – Evaluate UX

Prototype with interaction

I added interaction, colours and typography to my prototype in Axure: https://67tzlt.axshare.com

Low versus high fidelity
Home screen
Comment screen

Evaluation

Evaluation with a user. I gave the user a scenario and a task to complete, and then he did a think-aloud walkthrough. I took notes while he did the walkthrough. Screen recording of user walkthrough

Self-evaluation. I then made a video of myself using the app in Axure as I described what it’s “supposed” to do, with some reflections on the user feedback and future iterations of the app. Screen recording of own walkthrough

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