Zumper Group Planning
Kleiner Perkins 2021 Finalist Design Challenge
Zumper is a rental marketplace that serves renters, landlords, and property managers. Their mission is to make renting a seamless and stress-free experience for everyone.
My choice to design a group planning feature was born from my own experiences as a tenant. I wanted to address the frustrations that come with searching and coordinating rental listings with groups in highly competitive rental markets.
This project was completed for my KP Design Fellows 2021 application.
Figma and Illustrator
I. ESTABLISHING CONTEXT
My Personal Experience
Attending a university outside of your hometown also means finding your own accommodation. Since starting university, my housemates and I have moved between three different apartments. With the end of each lease, we anticipated the search frenzy to find a new place for the following year. This group effort involving tedious coordination of different interests was what inspired me to explore this feature idea.
Like many others, house-hunting in a group looks a little like this:
Independently searching as many relevant listings as possible from different rental marketplaces.
There is little to no action taken to narrow down the list of rental options that fulfill the group's preferences.
Deliberating and voting is a messy and unstructured process; it's harder to efficiently reach a consensus when comparing listings from across many different sources.
Although my housemates and I won't need to move this year, I anticipate that I will be going through this process again in the near future. It got me curious about the renting experience of groups, and drove me to identify design opportunities here.
Based on the pain points, I felt that it was a business-worthy problem to explore during the COVID rental market. Roommates and doubled-up living will continue to exist in the future. I hypothesized that platforms that create sophisticated group services will gain increased customer loyalty or market share.
Zumper and The Rental Marketplace
Based on a study by Pew Research Centre, affordability, companionship, and security are some of the few main reasons why more adults are sharing their living spaces. This trend may have implications around how platforms are able to service groups who engage in the renting process.
Anthemos Georgiades, CEO and cofounder of Zumper, says that the company was built in 2014 on the premise that there were already too many portals online that helped people search for apartments, from low-tech but popular sites like Craigslist through to Zillow and a plethora of classified offerings, both local and national.
"Everyone had done that already,” he said of the basic listings business. So instead the startup decided that it would focus on simplifying, speeding up and overall improving the whole process of renting.
—TechCrunch, Ingrid Lunden
of US adults (ages 23-60) have
an adult roommate
of US adults currently rent as a result of circumstances
Zumper focuses on expediting the tedious steps that follow after individuals narrow down their rental options. There are countless digital outlets that address the initial search for rental listings,
Considering this, I kept in mind that a valuable design solution for Zumper should encompass its mission of making renting seamless and stress-free experiences for everyone.
III. IDENTIFYING THE PROBLEM
To better understand how users feel in the rental process, I spoke to five friends who had roommates or had recently moved into a new place with their partner. I took users through a quick walkthrough of Zumper and focused our conversations around their rental search experiences, deliberating options, and voting with their roommates or partners.
These casual conversations helped me uncover the following key user insights:
Groups would bombard each other or their group chats with URL links to the listings found
Some links would redirect users to rental groups or pages that they didn't have access to
In larger groups, it was harder to back track to one specific posting in the conversation history
Trouble creating aligment
It was difficult to consistently compare options shared from across many different rental platforms
Inability to reach alignment between everyone's wishlist and expectations created bottlenecks for groups go progress with their rental process
Current User Flow
Alongside these insights, I constructed a user flow summarizing the current process individuals undergo when searching for rentals on Zumper.
Number of SEPARATE favourite lists grow with group size
Info is not centralized, only shared
Where efforts are being duplicated or would be particularly important for groups.
Groups just want to stay in the loop
The current experience feels very disconnected and non-collaborative; it doesn't provide group members with a clear idea of what their collective options are. This makes it difficult for groups to engage in important discussions and/or reach a consensus about their next steps in the rental process.
How might we save users time by centralizing their homes of interest in Zumper to help roommates find their next home in the most confident and efficient way?
Save Users Time
Saves users time by avoiding the need to jump between sites and build trust with Zumper's information sources.
Focus is on finding the perfect rental that fits the needs and requirements of the group by helping to keep the group in alignment.
Seamlessly Fit into Zumper
Identify Zumper's key design patterns to make their renting process less cumbersome, and more synonymous, visual, and manageable.
With this in mind, I re-constructed the user flow to visualize an ideal experience where users are able to search for rentals and later add them to a group list for later viewing.
This flow eliminates the number of separate favourites lists on Zumper, centralizing it to a single group list that can be easily shared and accessed by other members.
I will be focusing my redesign efforts around this part of the reconstructed flow
Reconstructed User Flow:
Before ideating ways to design a group planning feature for Zumper, I audited Airbnb's Save feature and Google Drive's Sharing feature to better understand how the collaborative planning process has already been successfully done. As well, I explored how I could adapt any insights from the design audit to fit Zumper's product offerings.
Airbnb Audit Insights
Keep Lists Organized
Requires users to immediately categorize a favourited listing
Helps avoid another search through their favourites list
Enables a seamless browse to save for both independent and collective purposes
Groups Surfaced Later
Groups are surfaced later in the experience, where it is more relevant to be used to make the Airbnb browsing process more manageable
Favourite a stay
Add favourite to a list or create new list
Navigate to Saved
Select a list
Stays are saved here; actions are provided to edit the list
Clear actions to invite friends to contribute to the list
Convenient sharing using the iOS modal
Google Drive Audit Insights
An example of how we can reuse commonly recognizable and adopted design patterns to help users achieve a task.
Tried-and-tested components like the Modal, More icon, and Sharing inputs share similar—if not identical—functions and purposes.
Select "More" button to edit a file/folder
Modal presents clear actions for user to edit or share their file(s)
Invite users to
collaborate and see who already has access
VI. FINAL DESIGNS
Bringing together my research, understanding, and ideations, I was able to come to these final designs for navigating to, creating, and editing groups. To clearly explain this feature, I have broken down each flow into its individual mobile and desktop components.
Navigating to Groups
Revising the Mobile Menu Bar
To integrate the Group feature into the existing Zumper flow, I combined "Messaged" and "Alerts" together into "Inbox".
I categorized these two under the new menu title because they both serve as a form of notification or update that the user initiates to obtain more information about a rental listing.
Repurposing Desktop Card Icons
The current More icon displays a preview of the first few sentences in the listing's description. Through testing, many found this preview too short to gain any additional insight or detail. Considering this, I rearranged the position of the Favourite and More icon, and repurposed the More icon to reveal the drop down list of actions.
Learnings + Takeaways
So there we go! Zumper Groups — a simple experience that understands the complexity of the rental process for groups and provides a smoother and more seamless solution to centralizing apartments of interest. Ultimately, my aim was to design a solution that would provide tenants a peace of mind from the overwhelming uncertainty in the renting process.
As I mentioned earlier in my case study, I do believe that there is a serious opportunity for Zumper to explore how to service groups. As adults become
increasingly open to living with roommates, there is massive potential and value that can be derived from better understanding these group dynamics to build trust, loyalty, and market share for Zumper.