Our final assignment in Design for Service was to design a service to “fix what’s broken.” Purposefully open-ended, we were given nine weeks to narrow down to a properly scoped problem space, conduct exploratory research, test provocations with users, create prototypes of our touchpoints, design representative diagrams like service blueprints, define a service proposition, and present both a pitch and a case study on our project. Over the course of these nine weeks, our team hit multiple roadblocks and took seemingly endless pivots to design our final service of Split It: a service that rents refurbished household items to young adults sharing temporary living spaces.
Split It addresses potential conflicts before they truly emerge. What can be seen as small differences in lifestyle can end up being what destroys a roommate relationship. We hope that the presentation of everyday habits through individually selected items will help roommates become aware of and talk through these differences. Because each item is split equally among the housemates, they will share equally in accountability and ownership. While we expect college students to buy into our service because of the cheap cost and ability to get money back, guarantee of quality for the year, and the convenience of delivery and pickup, our values of roommate conversations and an ecology of reuse are effects that we expect to emerge from the housemates’ interaction with the service itself.
Values: conversations, shared items, ecology of reuse
In addition to providing shared items for a group of housemates, Split It aims to start conversations about living preferences and standards as well as promote an ecology of reuse for these household items.
How It Works
Once one housemate signs up for Split It, they create a house account and invite the rest of the housemates. Each of the housemates creates their own individual shopping cart.
Creating an account and individual carts
The shared cart interface shows who's chosen what and provides a video chat platform if the housemates are unable to sit down in person (our service requires that each person be signed in to indicate that decisions are being made together). After they decide on items to share (the price of each will be split between all the housemates evenly), each housemate approves the shared shopping cart and enters payment information. They then decide on a delivery date and receive all the items in a Split It pod, which will be removed after move-in.
Shared cart and confirmation
Each item is guaranteed for the year-long lease. Maintenance of items during the lease can take various pathways depending on the situation, varying from in-house repair to free replacement to purchasing a new item to split.
As the school year comes to an end or the pre-set move-out date approaches, the housemates can set a date for the repacked pod to be collected. They will receive a checklist and an empty pod. The housemates pack up the pod with all the shared items in addition to any other items in decent condition that they want to get rid of. This helps prevent the end-of-year roadside waste that happens every May. Behind the scenes, the items are inspected and restored to full working condition if possible. Customers can receive up to half their money back at the end of the lease if all their items are returned in good working condition.
As college students make the move from dorms to off-campus living, they're often not well-prepared for the transition. They do not understand the pains of moving, especially when moving in with friends who may not share the same lifestyles and everyday values. They may not be aware of the supplies needed, and problems often arise when it comes to shared spaces and expectations of cleanliness levels. There are also a lot of pain points around shared items and end-of-year waste.
Photos from a house near campus, whose housemates do not communicate
From our storyboarded provocations, we learned that it would be important to keep the two main reasons for moving off-campus in mind: to keep costs down and to gain more independence. Therefore, we stepped away from directly intervening in roommate relationships to creating a service that would start conversations and provide clear, concrete value for the students. In addition to providing shared items for a group of housemates, Split It aims to start conversations about living preferences and standards as well as promote an ecology of reuse for these household items.
To understand if our service's individual/shared shopping cart workflows would encourage the conversations we hoped to spark, we prototyped a workshop with a few potential users. Before they met their "new housemates", they each filled out a Google survey akin to the individual shopping cart. We fed their responses into a spreadsheet that showed each person's preferences as well as different views and calculations of split prices that we wanted to test. We brought the participants together and showed them the spreadsheet. In the conversations that followed, we heard about everything from brand loyalty in certain items to cultural differences in cooking and cleaning preferences. We were pleasantly surprised by the content and depth of these conversations and hope that our service would foster these discussions in real life.
Participants discussing the shared cart view
To communicate clearly about what we've designed, we created a blueprint that captures the main customer journey, how they interact with the service, and the supporting work that needs to go into it.
We also made a value flow diagram that highlights the relationships and exchanges that happen within the service.
Designing the Website
Based on the key moments we wanted to present in our pitch, we designed a website wireframe flow.
We then fleshed some of the wireframes out into high-resolution first iteration UIs.
If we had more time to spend on this project, we'd love to continue iterating on our concept and bringing more feedback into the design process via service prototyping with potential users. We'd also focus on the design of the website, which is only in its first iteration of hi-res screens (for desktop) for the key moments presented in the service blueprint. It would be essential to consider other journeys besides the main one in the blueprint as well.