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An exploration of behaviours of people moving to a new city or area 

A case study for Hemnet
Time

5 weeks

Responsibility

UX research

Methods
  • In-depth interviews

  • Empathy map

  • Personas

  • User Journey Map

  • Usability testing

About Hemnet

Hemnet is one of Swedens most popular sites for browsing property to buy. They have millions of monthly visits, and people use it not only for buying property but also for inspiration and a way to let yourself dream of a different life.

Project Background

This project was done as a part of my UX design education at Nackademin and was course-specific to qualitative research. In this course, we were evaluated on how well we were able to execute qualitative research methods as well as the methods we used to analyse the insights from our study

Goal

Our goal was to gather insights in problem areas that users might have and that Hemnet could in some way solve. Our final research goal ended up being: Make Hemnet better for people who buy property in a new city/area.  

My Role

I was part of a group of four UX designers. Responsibility of interviewing, documentation and analysis was shared equally.

PROCESS

We held three iterations of in-depth interviews, totalling twelve interviews with eleven participants. When we had finished all the iterations of interviews, we compiled the interview data that we had gathered and then continued with analysing this data using various methods. We started by colour-coding separately in the team and then discussed our individual decisions together as a group. The collected colour-coded material was then further analysed and separated into different themes, the themes we established from the interviews were for example; “living prerequisites”, “reasons not to buy a house” and “how do you get to know a new area”. Using these themes as headers, we added quotes from the interviews that supported each theme.

empathy map.png

KEY INSIGHTS

We identified patterns in our analysis of the “empathy map” that we could use together with our colour-coded interview data. Using this knowledge, we were able to create two personas “The Explorer” and “The Safe and Sound Searcher”, user journeys and a basis for our usability tests. 

 

Our goal was to discern how users looked for information about an area that was unfamiliar to them. The users got the following scenario and task from us: 

“You have been offered a new job in a city that is unfamiliar to you. How would you get on with your moving plans and finding a property in the right area? What criteria would be of importance to you?”

 

Based on our research, we found that people who have moved to an area that they have no previous knowledge of found it challenging to attain information about the places they were interested in or that could be of potential interest for our respondents. The users wanted to be close to public transportations, schools, nature or water, and as of this study, that information was difficult to find on Hemnet. There are several standard filters, but no further help in getting to know a new, unfamiliar city/area and the personal settings of the personal account are limited.

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Some of the users we interviewed found it challenging to understand the purpose of using a registered account and most did not even know it existed. From our understanding, the purpose of the current account service is to create and save favourite searches and objects, rather than allowing any extra services such as customised filters like “schools”, “restaurants”, “public transport” that could personalise the search results on the map more clearly. Which we noted that the users were expecting.

CONCLUSION

Our conclusions from the usability tests validated our findings from the interviews in that instead of users utilising Hemnet’s native map to get an understanding of the neighbourhood the users used maps on Hitta.se and street views on Google Maps to investigate how the area of interest look like in real life. Hemnet’s website on mobile and desktop currently do not have a function on their map view that provides you with the same information that Google Maps or Hitta.se have. 

Several people from our research selection also do not have Swedish as their native language, and that makes it difficult for them to browse and use Hemnet’s services. All of Hemnet’s content is only available in Swedish, and so the user can’t change the language into English or any other language. Having this restriction means that Hemnet overlooks a substantial amount of potential customers that may have the desire to buy a property. 

Research shows that users found it challenging to move to a new area. Four respondents had no idea where to live and ended up looking for houses in the area they felt most familiar. Users mostly used the map when exploring a new place. They want to see the property of interest together with information about transportation, schools or nature. 

 “Hemnet doesn't tell you anything about the area or the schools nearby.”

From user interview, translated from Swedish

RECOMMENDATION

We recommend a filter that enables the user to customise the map in regards to what they want to see more clearly on the map. 
 

There’s a need for improvements of the account service and “my profile” where individual settings would be beneficial. It could customise searches to fit better with your family needs so that the map also shows schools nearby a property, maybe even reviews or how long you have to be on the waiting list.

 

Another insight was that the majority of respondents did not know if they had an account, nor did they see the benefits of having one. To encourage people to sign up for an account, they need to personalise the settings and make the benefits clearer. 

 

Furthermore an “explore function” could accommodate the need of users that want to explore the areas they are looking for housing in, as well as give a positive addition to knowledgeable users open for new possibilities. For instance, digital content produced to present “family-friendly” or “trendy areas”.