Redesigning the Onerent renter application experience

Onerent is a tech-driven property management startup that aims to simplify the process of renting.

During the course of this project I was tasked to identify usability issues that were causing low renter application conversions and to come up with solutions.

Role: Product Design, User Research, Wireframing, Prototyping

Duration: October-November 2017

• • •

At Onerent, one of the ways we simplify renting is by providing a way for renters to submit applications online.

We were closely monitoring application completion rates at the time and it was noticeable that the current numbers we had were not as good as they should be. The company was also expanding rapidly and we needed to make the process more self-service to scale and grow our capabilities faster for our customers.

As the sole designer at the time, I was tasked to uncover the reasons that caused the drop-off and to come up with creative solutions. My research encompassed understanding the user goals and needs and uncovering user pain points with the existing user journey.

Gathering Insights

Since I was working on a tight schedule, I stripped down my research and used methods that would allow me to achieve a faster turn-around. I started first by conducting interviews with our Customer Success team.

We were working remotely (Philippines) from where our customers were (California, USA), so it made sense to get initial insight from the Operations team since they had immediate first-hand experience with our customers. Doing this also allowed me to get a clearer understanding of the business-side of things.

This is totally how we looked during the interviews. Photo from Pexels

It was during these interviews that I uncovered some of the team’s challenges:

  1. They spent the bulk of their time grouping applications together. They had to manually identify which applications were part of the same group.
  2. They also spent a lot of their time following-up applicants to complete their application.

We also took the time to question whether each field was necessary for the user to achieve their objective. We determined which fields were required for initial endorsement and which ones could be filled on a later date. This required us more time, but it would help reduce user effort which would lead to more users completing the forms.

I continued my research by validating their observations by examining around 20 sessions of different users through FullStory. I then created and sent out surveys to validate the similarities I observed from watching these sessions.

6 of the 32 pages of research notes.

After conducting the research, I uncovered the following pain points:

  1. When users got to the step that they had to upload their personal documents, they either had to leave the site or stay idle on the website to look for their documents. When they finally had their documents scanned/photographed, they had to redo the entire application process again. 
  2. Applications usually consist of 2 or more group members. After the main co-signer completes their application they have to logout of the current session to create the application of the next member.
  3. Irrelevant requirements were still being required. E.g. If the applicant is a student, they are still required to submit documents that are only applicable for those who are employed.

Coming up with solutions

I presented my findings to stakeholders and the engineering team, and included some potential solutions I came up with.

  1. Splitting the application into two different parts, with steps that they can skip and complete at a later time.
  2. Adding three employment categories: employed, unemployed, student.
  3. Letting co-signers add group members email addresses, which would send an email invite for them to sign-up.

During this discussion, the team also came up with Implementing Group IDs to group and keep track group applications. After receiving the team's approval, I mocked up wireframes to gather feedback on the overall layout and structure of the application steps. Since I had to work with the limitations of the currently implemented design system, I could only use design elements that were already existing.

Solution 1:

I separated the application into two parts:

  1. Build Profile -- which asks for their personal and employment details, contact information, and if they’re moving in with a group. This information is given to Owners for initial endorsement.
  2. Strengthen Profile -- which asks for their sensitive information (credit score, SSN, documents). Users can choose to do this later if they don’t have their documents yet.

By breaking down the application into two parts, we minimized overwhelming users with a bajilion forms, reducing user effort and decreasing their cognitive load. However, if they're determined to finish the application in one sitting, they can still complete the steps.

Solution 2:

I added different buttons for employment categories, where the fields would change depending on what the user selected. This way, we’d avoid asking users irrelevant information.

Grouping information into chunks is an easy way to highlight association. Grouping related fields together also helps users make sense of the information that they must fill in.

Solution 3:

Letting users invite group members or join an existing group. To create a group they could either add in the other members email addresses to send them invites to sign-up, or they could generate a sign-up code which the other members can add in when creating their accounts.

• • •

Results and takeaways

Because of the stakeholder’s involvement in the UX process, expectations were already set during the initial part of the process and getting my designs approved was quick.