Paris Habitat

Paris Habitat is a social landlord for the city of Paris. To leverage the enormous amount of data they own, they organised a short competition for innovations. Our participation’s result to this competition is a website for social housing applicants to gain visibility over their application.

Company

Paris Habitat

Year

2018

Time

2 days

Role

UX Designer

Context

Two days and an heterogenous set of data, those were the contraints of the competition. The selection criteria for the jury were the use of existing data of Paris Habitat, the ability to implement the proposal right-away and the problems it solves for both users of social housing and Paris Habitat employees.

Challenge

We focused on the process of social housing application, with the current and futur applicants as main target users. Known from our own experience to be opaque and ridiculously long (17 years as the maximum !), it is a very frustrating process for the applicants, but also for Paris Habitat employees. That’s why we asked ourselves :

How might we bring transparency to this process, so that applicants can understand and follow their application ?

Paris Habitat social housing application tool

Solution


Using the data available in Paris Habitat, we have actual information on the social housing market in Paris in realtime. Thanks to that, our solution displays an indicative waiting time for a given request of social house.

The benefits for the applicant are :

  • instant estimation of waiting time
  • recommendation of similar request with less waiting time
  • free and anonymous

The benefits for Paris Habitat are :

  • call center less overwhelmed
  • positive impact on the company image
  • better turnover of the social housing stock
  • no integration needed with governmental websites

Approach


01. A morning workshop to find our teammates

Participants of the competition attended a mandatory workshop morning to kickoff the event. We were three groups of about twenty people from various background, and the workshop was led by a professional UX Designer. Although I found it frustrating to postpone the start the « actual » work, this workshop turned out to be a very good starting point. In particular, we did a brainstorming session, a stakeholder mapping, a group focus, and an affinity mapping. Afterward small groups were formed based on their affinity towards the topic revealed during the morning workshop. I advocated for the process of social housing application and was joined by two other participants to form our final team of three.

Paris Habitat social housing application tool
1/3 social housing offers were refused in 2017 : among them 31 % due to the lack of answer from the applicant, 9 % due to a too high rent, 8 % due to a wrong housing typology and 5 % due to neighborhood issues.

02. Informal discussion and experience sharing

We casually asked a few questions to the Paris Habitat Director and to the IT Manager, in order to uncover their feedback and expert knowledge. As a result, we understood that the social housing application is not a unified process across landlords in Paris : there is a unique entry point online, and a unique list of applicants for all social landlords, but the decision of attribution depends on the social landlord and seems to be kept secret.

Besides, this discussion uncovered non-obvious insights like the fact that the Paris Habitat call center is overwhelmed by applicants looking for updates, sometimes calling everyday.

03. Journey mapping of an extreme user

As an extreme case, we took a user experiencing family changes over the years. We showcased how Paris Habitat could be an helpful companion instead of a frustrating blocker in this person’s life.

We drafted a journey map of an extreme user, at the scale of a lifetime.

Paris Habitat social housing application tool
Paris Habitat social housing application tool

After a lot of simplifications and feedback gathering, we ended up with this journey, voluntarily minimalist for the sake of our 7min pitch in front of the jury.

04. Night prototyping

We spend the night prototyping a few screens and tested them with some participants. Our solution created enthusiasm among other participants, which I must say relieved us a bit of the stress of the final pitch. I designed an interactive prototype, and my co-worker a functional prototype. In one night we proudly managed to get two complementary prototypes.

Again, a quick sketch to agree on a basic flow between the screens.

Paris Habitat social housing application tool
Paris Habitat social housing application tool

A landing page to explain with simple words the purpose of the tool, sorry it’s in French !

We called it Locaboost.

Prototype Screens


Paris Habitat social housing application tool

Screen 1 – Applicant Situation

The user is asked to give informations about his household : revenu, composition, type of request.

Paris Habitat social housing application tool

Screen 2 : Request Parameters

The user can select the type of house he wishes, the location and other parameters.

Paris Habitat social housing application tool

Screen 3 : Estimation

Given the input, the tool is able to display immediately an estimation of the waiting time. Recommendations are made for similar combinations of parameters that lead to a diminished waiting time estimation.

Paris Habitat social housing application tool

Accomplishments & Learnings


We received the third prize, over 13 projects. We also received a « Coup de Coeur » special prize from a member of the jury. We received positive critics, and were the only group presenting a prototype.

I discovered that UX methods worked well under the pressure of short deadlines. Our process allowed us to dedicate time to prototyping, unlike other teams.

We were maybe too confident about our project and didn’t noticed the others were focused first on Paris Habitat pain points. Being third despite that is a success for us three !

We keep good memories of this event and I will surely try again this type of challenge !