I can think of a few goals for the website. For example, the site can help people find rental units, facilitate a rental agreement, or enable tenants to pay their landlord. I will focus on designing a website with one goal: enabling users to find long term rental units.
At a high level, there are two user groups on this platform: Landlord and Tenants. I’m going to first focus on designing the experience for the Tenants. I can think of a few use cases of the website for the tenants:
– Research about different neighborhoods and buildings
– Determine criteria and search for homes that meet one’s criteria
– View details of the home (photo’s, floor plan, amenities, etc)
– Connect with the landlord to learn more about the unit
– Schedule a time for a showing
– Negotiate terms of the agreement
– Sign agreement
– Move in
I’ve seen different companies trying to solve for each or a few of the use cases listed here. However, I haven’t seen companies solving for the first use case. So, I’m going to focus on solving for the first use case.
I have a few ideas for improving the research experience for the people seeking rental homes. Here they are:
1. Ask lifestyle questions (e.g. what time do you go to bed, where is your office, do you go to the gym? etc) to learn more about the person and recommend neighborhoods / buildings accordingly
2. Recommend neighborhoods to user based on where their friends live. Keep them close to their friends
3. Ask demographics questions (income, age, gender) and make recommendations based on demographic data
4. Present a heat map of areas that match one’s search criteria. You select a criteria and the heat map recommends neighborhoods accordingly
Here is how I would evaluate these ideas based on impact on customer and cost of implementation.
1. High impact on user, especially for people arriving in the city. Medium cost of implementation since we need to integrate with third party services to get these data (e.g. Yelp, Google Maps, etc)
2. Low impact on the user experience. High cost since there are some privacy concerns and it is not be easy to discover a user’s close friend’ addresses.
3. Medium impact on the user experience. I don’t think living with people in the same demographic is necessarily that important for users. Living close to people with same lifestyle is more important. Cost of implementation is low since this information can be obtained via third party services such as Zillow.
4. Low impact on user experience since similar capabilities exist in other websites. Medium cost of implementation (website has to find a way to add these data to its database)
Based on what’s discussed above, I suggest implementing a neighborhood / building recommender that suggests neighborhoods and buildings based on the user’s answers to a set of lifestyle questions. This website can be very popular among people that are moving to a new city and are not familiar with the neighborhoods. As a go-to-market strategy, I would initially launch this service in cities that have a constantly large number of new people moving in. An example would be San Francisco. There are many developers coming to San Francisco every year. I would also even approach companies such as Google, Facebook, and Apple to offer this service to their new hires.