Engaging Residents around Affordable Housing Development 

Dates: Oct 2020 - May 2020
My Role: UX Design Lead, Contract

In 2020, I joined the City of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), recently rebranded to the Mayor’s Office of Housing, as UX Design Lead on a capital-funded project to redesign the department’s community engagement platform.

Research & Discovery

Conducted over Zoom, we recruited and interviewed 20+ residents and community advocates. First, we did baseline user tests of the existing Building Housing platform (built five years previously by a third party software company). We then tested early prototypes of the new design, scheduling 4-5 interviews every two weeks.

Personas emerged as a really useful tool in engaging and informing internal stakeholders, and in directing our work and priorities on the team. Based on the initial 10 user interviews, quantititative data, and insights from stakeholder interviews, we created three personas that we used throughout the project.

Prototyping, Testing & Design

I used Figma to design and prototype and Maze.design, Zoom, and Grain to conduct regular user tests throughout the design process.

We prioritized mobile usability to ensure that all Bostonians could access the product. The previous version of the platform was build on third party servers; we transferred it to Boston.gov, improving its accessibility and discoverability, and used the Boston.gov design guidelines.

Open Prototype of homepage.

Open prototype of project page.

Service Design for Internal Users

A big part of the project was improving internal workflows so that Development Officers at DND were empowered and equipped to meet the needs of the public that we uncovered in the user interview process.

We conducted stakeholder interviews early on, and engaged a circle of key stakedholers in bi-weely design review sessions, where we presented our progress and got their feedback & ideas. 

The Real Estate Management Office’s process was really hands on: by visualizing it, we noticed inefficiencies and opportunities to streamline.

Final Design

The new Building Housing website went live in January 2021. You can explore the live website at boston.gov/buildinghousing.