How might we help young people customize their living space for comfort when they are at the start of their careers?
Aery is an end-to-end home customization service based on both pre-owned and brand new furniture and items. It makes home customization easier for constantly moving young adults, enabling them to focus on living their best life at home.
The platform’s AI recommends combos of pre-owned or brand new items that fit users’ needs and limitations. Users can make changes to and visualize the combos in a 3D playground, and then place orders from the platform. When moving out, one can simply sell the items back to the Aery to save the troubles of getting rid of them in other ways.
This project was for Strategic Innovation in Product/Service Design, a course that's part of the SVA MFA Interaction Design program.
Millennials and Gen Z aren’t buying homes at nearly the rate of previous generations.
What are their true aspirations and obstacles to home ownership? What might help them achieve their ambitions?
To have a quantified understanding of this phenomenon:
“The homeownership rate among millennials ages 25 to 34 is 8 percentage points lower than baby boomers and 8.4 percentage points lower than Gen Xers in the same age group”**Millennial Homeownership - Why Is It So Low, and How Can We Increase It?
Among the interviews with 16 renters and homeowners, we noticed some recurring topics that resonate with our desk research. We grouped some of our findings under 4 categories:
When choosing a place to live at, young people values proximity to work location, personal space, being able to work at home, and being close to their community.
People do want to customize.
Homeowners have more advantages on this point. But maintenance is a hassle.
For renters, moving furniture is troublesome.
Besides, People are into IoT facilities. High-tech is a trend.
The young generation has distinct and independent personalities.
They are not settled. They plan on moving around to follow career opportunities.
Having a family can impact their decision to buy a home.
Most of them are still renting.
Their financial situations prevent them from getting a home. They might get support from their family.
Most just have a vague plan on saving up for a house.
Buying a house is seen as an investment.
However, the home buying process is a pain.
Our target group does want to enjoy a personalized home.
What is stopping them?
We found the root in the traits of the life stage they are at:
young professionals lack money and time, and are too mobile.
We then combined those ideas to come up with one single user flow:
To not limit ourselves, we made 3 different sets of wireframes separately to explore the best structure and medium of the solution.
We showed 10 people the wireframes to get some feedback. There are 3 key takeaways:
The current features meet people's needs. They thought this would be a useful tool to decorate their new living space according to their needs and preferences.
The web platform is preferred over a mobile app. This is also backed up by statistic evidence (US shoppers save big-ticket online purchases for desktop).
The users think the onboarding process is too long. We wanted to capture different aspects of the user' needs altogether in the original design, but it might bore the user before they finally gets to start using the product. We hence decided to shorten this stage, and gradually learn more about the user laster on as they uses the service.
While we were shaping our solution, we looked at other home-related services in the market, and compared our solution with a few main competitors.
We believe our product has great competitiveness in personalization, while also maintaining advantages in other aspects. Our price would not be the cheapest, but is still within an acceptable range; this also enables us to keep higher levels of product and service quality.