BeeHome

A housing platform that matches seniors with tenants who exchange assistance on house chores for affordable housing.

At a Glance

Duration

3 Months

Team

Yifei Liu, Sam Meyer, Nancy Yang, Frances Thai, Jessica Kwon

My Role

UX/UI Research & Design

The Challenge

In the United States, the retired population is increasing in size much faster than the rest of the population. The AARP reports that 90% of people over age 65 want to continue living in their homes for as long as possible, but they will need increasing help with basic tasks like cleaning and cooking.

The Solution

We designed an online platform that allows aging homeowners to earn extra income and stay independent. Our website helps elderly landlords find tenants who can do tasks around the house.

Design Process

User Surveys

We conducted two rounds of surveys targeting people over 55+ to understand more about their behavior, pain points and needs. We received more than 900 responses from the first survey and 313 responses from the second round. Here are some insights from the survey results:

  1. More than half of the 55+ population use email as a main medium to communicate.
  2. One of their life goals is to achieve financial security.
  3. Among the 313 survey responses, 40 % of them are willing to rent out a room in their homes.
  4. The top concern of renting is the trustworthiness of the tenants.

From the tenants' side, we planned to first target university populations because they already take in part in organizations such as co-ops that require work as a part of living expenses, and a degree provides trust by seniors. A survey of 41 UC Berkeley students found that half of respondents would be willing to do some work around the house for reduced rent. These insights influenced and guided our implementation.

Interviews

We interviewed researchers from the Berkeley Center for the Advanced Study of Aging Services to understand the challenges facing seniors who would like to remain in their homes. We learned about some existing programs, like the “Village Model” where seniors form a group within a city that works together and shares knowledge about how to get help. We also learned about HomeShare, a program in San Diego where seniors rent out their homes, sometimes in exchange for work around the house.

User Stories
User flow
We used post-it notes to identify user flow

We pinpointed main user activities, tasks, and user stories for both home providers and home seekers.

Elderly UI Research

We performed research about how elderly people interact with and use web interfaces to inform our UI design decisions. Below are some insights:

  1. Dexterity: moving interface elements like pull down menus and walking menus, can be problematic for seniors who are not always steady with a mouse. We decided to use static user interface widgets and ample white space between elements to facilitate easy navigation and selection.
  2. Vision: to ensure readability, our text is size 18pt or larger. The strokes on our buttons and other containers are also bold and dark. We also selected a color palette that passes the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) AA standard defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).
BeeHome website's color pallette
BeeHome website's color pallette
Prototyping and Iterations
Low-fidelity Prototype

We first used figma to design our low-fidelity prototype to determine information architecture, key features and functionalities, and user flow.

Low-fidelity prototype
Low-fidelity prototype
Heuristic Evaluation

After making the low-fidelity prototype, our team performed a heuristic evaluation. We made several important improvements, including:

  1. We found issues including consistency between language used by different designers. We cleaned that up by choosing consistent language.
  2. We improved user freedom by adding “Back” buttons.
  3. We made the tone more conversational.
High-fidelity Prototypes

As we continued our research, we moved to high-fidelity prototypes and went through various design iterations.

High-fidelity prototype
An early version of our high-fidelity prototype

Final Design

Final Design

Reflection

Tools & Methods
  • Quantitative Surveys
  • Qualitative & Contextual Interviews
  • Literature Review
  • User Flow + User Story
  • Low-fidelity & high-fidelity Prototyping
  • Elderly UI Research
  • Heuristic Evaluation
  • Adobe Illustrator + Adobe Photoshop + Sketch + Google Slides
Future Plans

Our BeeHome project was selected as one of 66 finalists from 326 submissions in a university-wide Big Idea Competition at Berkeley. We are planning to build a fully-functional web application and continue doing user testing to improve the website. We also plan to develop a business model for the project to take off.