Support low income homeowners with maintaing their homes

Role: Interaction Design
Project Type: Interaction Design, and Design Concept (Class Assignment)
Team: Completed individually with feedback from class
Contribution: Brainstorming, Sketching, Prototyping, and Interaction Design
Deliverable: High Fidelity Prototype, Paper Prototype, Personas, and Storyboard


There are 10.2M low-income income families living in the US with an estimated 42% who own homes with a median value of $100,000. Unlike more wealthier households, problems like the repeated breakdowns of heating units can often spiral into major issues that significantly impact a family's quality of living. While there are many government services that help these families, minor maintenance issues like this are often overlooked. The goal of FixIt is to help low income homeowners find amateur repairmen to help them fix and maintain things around the home. Not only would they be able to improve their living condition, but it would provide opportunities for work and improve the social conditions within the community. 


Defining the Problem

Initially, I was interested in creating a tool to help people find jobs in the neighbourhood. I began by sketching out some possible scenarios and creating some storyboards for possible solutions. 

Analyzing designs through value comparisons

My interviews were not very robust, so I decided to a value analysis to determine if there were any assumptions that I was making and help me be aware of potential issues. One of the largest values I hold that differ from my community would be the emphasis on technology and the role they play in our lives. As UX designers, we are naturally drawn towards technological solutions. However, not all problems can be fixed with an app. In particular, there are significant cultural, social, and cognitive barriers when attempting a technological solution for low income neighborhoods. Even if they have access to smartphones, barriers like consistent access to data could be an issue. Another assumptions is about community cohension. I am assuming a geographical identity for the community, and that people are willing to work together and help other members in the community. 


Using my initial sketches to help with the interviews, I discovered that people valued products that were credible, stable, and reliable. Based on their feedback, I decided that my scope was too large and that people preferred simple ideas that worked well.Based on their feedback, I will focus the tasks I provide to only handyman work. Eventually, I will expand into more tasks like chores and cooking, but this will be my focus.


The final deliverable was an interactive prototype that was built using Invision and Illustrator. Due to time constraints, I wasn't able to conduct robust research with users. Instead, I mapped out the core functions that were needed for any app that focused on tasks. Namely - login, posting a job, then having users connect. I decided to focus on handyman jobs because the majority of posts from others task creation sites were for cleaning and repairs. Since a cleaning app that used immediate neighborhood connections already existed, I decided to create FixIt - an app that connects amateurs repairperson with local homeowners. 

learning lessons

design with a strategic purpose

While I am a big believer in user centered design, and typically prefer research (regardless of how robust), I wasn't able to get in touch with the right users in this case. My preliminary research did not yield any insights, so I designed with development in mind in this case. I approached the prototyping by first designing the flow of data and how the underlying structure would work. This gave me a basic foundation to create a task app. If we could not attract enough users with home repairs, the underlying code could be salvaged and repurposed since the main tasks - registering, creating a post, connecting users, tracking a job, and facilitating payments - still remained the same.