How might we help young Australians find a good flatmate?

An exploratory UX case study

I did a one-off exploratory project as an assignment to address the problem of finding the right flatmate in Australia. I have detailed below the research process I followed, creation of user personas, and some low fidelity prototypes with a story-board in the end. Let me know your thoughts!

Information gathered from secondary research

  • An average Australian flatmate is a woman aged between 25–34, living in Melbourne or Sydney
  • Seekers or flats and flatmates are actively engaging on social media to find what they are looking for

I also conducted primary research which included a survey that I sent out on Facebook groups and a Slack channel I am a part of. I also spoke to a few people who commented on my Facebook post, about their experiences looking for a flat or a flatmate. Findings:

I divided the aspect of finding a flatmate into three main categories: Social, Economical and Psychological.

Social. From the above data, one can conclude that forming new relationships, especially with flatmates is important to young Australians. They are looking to form a bond with those they intend to share a roof with.

Economical. Once again, from the above data, 35% of respondents believe that sharing a flat with someone helps them share expenses, especially in a more expensive suburb.

Psychological. Flatmates perceive their household in one of two ways; 1. As a socially dynamic ecosystem, where each household member feels supported; or 2. As a self-serving “ego-system” in which fellow roommates’ actions are seen as either helping or hindering their ability to fulfil their needs.

In the most ideal scenario, you decide to look for a flatmate, then you post a “Looking for flatmate” or a “looking for flat” ad, and then you have conversations with many and finally settle down on one! Unfortunately, the process is never that easy, and even if it is, you never really know if you landed the right flatmate. I for one have been on both extremes — I once cried when I had to part ways with a former flatmate, and in the other extreme, I cried that I had to put up with a flatmate a few more months. It’s not easy.

This is an idea for an app that helps you find the right flatmate —much like a dating app, because I believe that a pseudo-dating mindset could work when looking for flatmates. So who would be the users then?

They want the ideal flatmate. They are busy and don’t have too much time hunting for flats and flatmates. They are tech-savvy.

Here are some personas I created based on people I spoke to who would be interested in using this app. The personas speak of who they are, where they are from, their motivations, frustrations, goals, hobbies and interests.

Some of the differentiating features this app would include are: Verification, Gamified profile creation, and Compatibility match. One can get verified on the app by providing a proof of ID — this increases the trust factor.
Most people I spoke to found the process of filling out details on flat-sharing platforms, a pain. This is especially when they are advertising on multiple platforms. So to make this boring process less boring, a gamified profile creation would help. For example, badges for little goals and milestones in the journey or profile creation.
Based on the information gathered from the (comprehensive) profile creation, the app would run an algorithm to show compatible matches, much like a dating app, that users can swipe right or left based on their preferences (Tinder much? Hell yeah! Why not?). Here are some images taking you through the user journey:

User journey: For users listing a flat to find a flatmate
User journey: For users wanting to find a flat and a flatmate

Below are some Low-fi prototypes (very basic I know).

Users looking for a flat and a flatmate
Users looking for a flat and a flatmate
Users looking for a flat and a flatmate

And finally, here’s the story-board. I know haven’t done a great job at depicting the whole process, but I am curious to know how much you understand from these illustrations.

The target group for this app is niche — young Australians who prioritize a good flatmate over a good flat, but it might be surprising to see how many people get on to the platform if it exists.

Disclaimer: Nobody is developing this app as of now, it is just an (my) idea.

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