Concept Design: iOS Construction App

Construction startups like Module are revolutionizing the traditional home building process by constructing energy-efficient modular homes in a factory and delivering them via crane. However, Module has one big limitation: homeowners can’t see their house until it gets delivered.

This case study details the design process of a conceptual iOS app for Module, aimed to help Module’s clients track their home as its being built.

This was a project assignment from a UX bootcamp.

Context & Limitations

Our team of three designers had two weeks to design an app that would support Module’s users as they pursued a multi-month long construction project. We had a limited understanding of the construction industry or its users and very little contact with Module’s team.

I was the UX researcher, iOS referee (I was our team’s subject matter expert for Apple’s Human Interface Guidelines), and, in an unexpected turn of events, the prototyper.

Leading the Research ⚙️

To gain a deep understanding of the users' needs and expectations, we conducted industry research and user interviews.

I led the research on Module’s business, where I read and consolidated every resource on Module to help me and my team understand their process, target users, existing value props, and branding identity.

💡 Aiming for Realism

I also took the initiative to reach out to Module directly to gather insights, and discovered that Module had pivoted from working with homeworkers to mostly working with developers, who then communicated with the homeowners. Because of our limited time frame, we decided to commit to our original prompt and design the app as if Module’s clients were homebuyers.

Interviews

Based on our research, we established criteria for our users, and conducted six user interviews with people who matched these qualifications.

Interviewee Criteria: Previous home buyers who have built their home before or potential home buyers interested in building a modular home.

Goal: Identify their personalities, problems, & motivations when building a home

Our insights were organized in an affinity map (below) to identify the main trends of our users.

Main Takeaways

  • Priorities: All previous and potential home buyers prioritized the finances, location, size, & return value of the home
  • Transparency: They all wanted more transparency in the home buying/building process
  • Progress Updates: Previous home buyers who had their house built onsite traveled onsite frequently for progress updates

Defining Personas & Problem Statements

From the findings above, we created Rani and Stan to represent Module’s main clients. During ideation, these personas helped us verify that each feature in the design addressed user needs. Check them out below!

User Flows

Our team collaborated to create user flows based on Rani and Stan’s personalities, frustrations, and goals. Establishing a user flow early in our process helped us avoid adding too many features to the app.

Wireframes

To generate ideas as efficiently as possible, our team practiced a Crazy 8s brainstorming exercise, which helped us prioritize and identify key features for our app solution.

Features for Rani's Flow

💡 Quick Note

I am highlighting the work and feedback for only my main contributions: the deliverables and testing for Rani’s user flow.

  • Progress visualization: Divided by phases and visualized by percentage completed, so that users can get an idea of the progress at a glance.
  • Progress logs: A log of the progress per phase, that allows the builder to provide summary updates to the client with minimal interference to their work
  • Chat feature: Access to Module representatives via message, so users like Rani can have any questions quickly
  • Info pages: Detailed articles on construction phases to help educate new homeowners like Rani and provide reassurance

Journey Maps

As my teammates designed mid-fidelity frames on Figma, I created journey maps to illustrate the anticipated impact our designs would have on the user’s experience working with Module.

The journey maps visualized both Rani and Stan’s experience from the initial desire to build a home to the completion of construction by Module. They captured the user's actions, thoughts, emotions, and highlighted potential business opportunities.

Final Prototype ✅

💡 Last-Minute Prototyping

A team member had a personal emergency that made them mostly unavailable for the rest of the project, so my other team member and I shared responsibility for developing the high-fidelity frames and prototyping.

With the deadline approaching, we decided that rather than manually adopting Module’s branding, we would follow iOS branding as closely as possible to ensure we would deliver a completed prototype in time. Check it out below!

As the iOS subject matter expert for our team, I gathered important iOS guideline information for my teammates, and established a majority of the components in our Figma file so that our team was able to hit the ground running when creating the prototype.

Usability Testing

Our team had time to conduct usability tests on the prototype with three people, which allowed us to gather feedback and validate our design decisions. The tests revealed key problems with the design to iterate on.

Iterating from Feedback

Based on the usability test feedback, I sketched a lo-fidelity design for a theoretical second iteration.

  • Progress logs first: Give the user the recent info they want to read first, so they don’t have to dig to find updates
  • Prioritize information: Phase card descriptions help user understand what they’ll tap into, and dropdown for users to expand info as needed
  • CTA: Clearly communicate a call-to-action to prompt users to look into progress logs

Next Steps

Below are some additional ideas from our team, which we decided to not pursue for this initial design. The features didn’t directly address the needs of our personas, or was anticipated to be a complicated business strategy for Module to adopt.

  • Guided finance experience: Implementing an affordability calculator and loan consulting feature to assist clients with financing their modular homes.
  • Scope of customization: Collaborating with Module to explore options for lowering the scope of customization based on their capabilities and client preferences.
  • Factory build live cam: Integrating a live camera feed to allow clients to view the construction progress in real time.

Conclusion

💡 TL;DR
  • It was rewarding to reach out to Module
  • Scope of customization: Collaborating with Module to explore options for lowering the scope of customization based on their capabilities and client preferences.
  • Factory build live cam: Integrating a live camera feed to allow clients to view the construction progress in real time.

This project fascinated me because it let me entertain how design can potentially simplify major life milestones like home buying. It was intriguing to study a real startup with tangible business outcomes and it was rewarding to aim to stay true to reality where possible (even if we had to pivot back to the original prompt for the sake of timeline).Navigating the challenge of a pivot and an absent teammate gave us the opportunity to practice renegotiating responsibilities to ensure meeting project deadlines. I also personally enjoyed the contributions I made as “iOS Referee”, because I was able to translate my findings into easily understandable tidbits for my team, and allow them to focus more on designing features.Because of our thorough research and efficient ideation, we were able to pinpoint high priority features like progress tracking and customization options. As a first iteration, I’m proud of the solution our team designed to improve Module’s home building experience for Rani and Stan-like clients.

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