CoMAD Cohousing -Hello neighbor!
I think that at this point in life we have all faced some challenge or other in the world of Ux design, well this one I am going to tell you was one of mine. I don’t know if you have ever heard of Cohousing. It is a kind of “intentional” community composed of private houses with extensive community spaces, this community is planned and managed by their residents, who somehow seek interaction with their neighbors. Community spaces can vary but usually include a large kitchen with a dining room where residents take turns eating and cooking. Other common spaces may include a TV room, laundry room, nursery for children, offices, wifi network access, meeting room, workshop and gym among many other options. Because of its design converted into large spaces it facilitates the interaction between neighbors, many times they are focused on social and practical benefits, but there are also communities with economic and environmental benefits, everything depends on the ideology of each community. What do you think about the idea of Cohousing, it sounds good, doesn’t it?.
For this great challenge they ask me to design a mobile application that promotes community life among its residents. What should this app include?
- User registration.
- Daily schedule of activities, workshops, tasks…
- General “about us” information including (location, services, rules, residents community, etc…).
- Booking for activities.
- Forum (for barter or meetings).
As you know to start before anything else is good to organize step by step the whole work process, in a simple way I created this Framework.
Let’s see what each column includes.
Before launching myself to look for ideas to create my mobile application prototype I need to know more about the concept of cohousing as it generates some confusion with another term that circulates around, the coliving, if it is true that they are similar but also keep their differences, I think at this point of the research is necessary to have clear both concepts.
- A community that is built in a cooperative.
- It is a project that is implemented according to values and principles.
- Finally they look for land, financing, and design architecture.All according to their previously agreed ideas.
- The initiative comes from an external developer and its tenants normally live in rented accommodation.
- The architecture has to address the same social goals and is often more difficult because it does not work as a group from the beginning.
- The developer decides on the architectural design, land and financing.
Therefore and in view of this information I review the Briefing again and highlight a key point the members belong to a Cooperative.
In Spain the concept of Cohousing does exist, but it seems to be more focused on residences for the elderly, I want to clarify that it is a totally new concept of life in our country if there were some pioneers but it is not known with certainty in what year they started. This philosophy of life began back in the 60’s coming from our northern European neighbors and over the years we have been adapting to our traditional model of life. As I was saying this concept of life in our country falls more on the elderly population and also in recently retired men and women who choose to get a smaller and more comfortable house according to their needs in order to make a life more in society, sharing common spaces, tasks and activities with people of the same age. Some testimonies attribute this change of philosophy of life to the fact that their children are older and have become independent and the house in which they used to live is too big for them and they feel lonely, therefore it is not strange to find more information regarding residences for the elderly.
If we look for maps and directory in Cohousing Spain we can see in which areas there are communities already formed, which are under construction and which are in process and with a section where you can get in direct contact with them.
Applications in the digital market
We need to know what applications or platforms are currently working in this area and I can say that in Spain I have not found any that refers to this topic, so I expanded the search range and I highlight two of them because they summarize a bit the concept of management of a community of neighbors.
This application has several essential features that CoMAD would need (Chat for neighbors, program or calendar, mail and a janitor responsible for breakdowns within the community itself).
This application, in addition to displaying extensive information about the location and floor plan of the apartments for the members of the community, also has the function of scheduling activities and a weekly agenda where you can view each task or activity that comes up.
These two applications have a lot of information, but let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons:
Both Our Home and Ratak do not have a user registration, which CoMAD considers necessary for its application to be unique and exclusive for the members of the community, but we can see that both have a schedule of activities and tasks and a calendar where it points them out, but on the opposite if we can see that when it comes to bartering tasks both lack that feature.
At this point I need to know a little more in depth the relationship between the app and the user, the easiest way is through an approach of possible problems that can be given a solution. To do this I will develop a series of key questions that will help me to meet the objectives, needs and limitations that can be found in order to have a clearer view of the challenge.
What is the user looking for?
- Download the application to their cell phone.
- To have general information about the center: (rules, location, common areas…).
- To have access to a schedule of activities.
- Consult the daily schedule.
- Chat (a forum to communicate with members of the community).
Exchange of tasks or barter.
What difficulties does the user have?
- Problems when registering.
- Little information about the center.
- Not having a program of activities to sign up for.
- Not being able to exchange tasks.
- Not having communication through a forum to call meetings
- Not having a calendar with the tasks of the day.
0.1 User Person
Having all the previous information the next step is to define the type of user we are going to address at all times. In this case and guided by all the previous research I think Alvaro is the perfect candidate, a young architect of 42 years old who by his profession has lived in various parts of the world, accustomed to call home to a stay that often has not even lasted 6 months. At this stage of his life and with a great experience behind him, he is looking for a space where he can live together and continue socializing as he did before. He loves the concept of Cohousing lifestyle, he had already lived like this for a while in Berlin and now he wants it to be his permanent home.
42 years old, architect, nature and travel lover.
- Surround yourself with positive people with common thoughts and ideas.
- Always learning something, workshops, courses, trades, etc.
- Help, lend a hand and collaborate in any way he can.
- Not having time to do everything you want to do in a day.
- Thinking too much
- Being pessimistic and not achieving your goals
- Drawing and making handcrafted items.
- He is passionate about international cuisine.
- To do sport.
- To learn other languages.
Let’s take a look at Álvaro’s day by day life to know how he would function within the community. As every morning Alvaro gets up very early to take advantage of the coolness of the morning and its tranquility to do some Yoga and exercise, then he prepares a succulent breakfast and takes advantage of that time to read the mail and review some work that is passed to him. At mid-morning he schedules his Zoom meetings and leaves some time between 13:00 and 16:30 to eat and help with the tasks he is given. In the afternoons he continues with his work meetings connected with his colleagues and clients who live outside the GTM+1 schedule and he uses the end of the day to review work and plan for the next day. On weekends he is usually more available and takes the opportunity to sign up for workshops and spend time on his hobbies and spend time with members of the community.
0.3 Pain Points
We already know Alvaro and we see what a normal day is like for him. As we can see Alvaro is a person who spends many hours sitting in front of the computer in contact with his team and from meeting to meeting with clients. He has programmed himself a schedule to make it compatible with his tasks and activities within the community, but there are times when he has an inconvenience and cannot arrive on time and has to run from one place to another to ask a neighbor for a favor. On the other hand he misses a schedule with the activities that there are because if he has space during the week he would like to sign up for some, in the same way he would like to teach technical drawing to anyone who is interested, since the community is large and still does not know everyone, it would be nice to advertise somehow so that everyone can see it and if they are interested to contact him to arrange a meeting.
In view of all this the points to highlight are:
- Forum to chat with neighbors ( exchange tasks, ask for a favor…).
- Program of activities to sign up with their schedules.
- Possibility to offer a course.
0.4 Information architecture
If we collect all the information from our user plus the information requested at the beginning of our research we can recreate how would be the flow of the application in its different sections. Without going too far and taking as a reference some of the functions that we usually perform with our cell phone, I have put into practice how this application should behave.
Behavior of the home function, the user will be able to access the general information of the community and know its schedule of activities, tasks, location and spaces of the enclosure.
With the calendar, the user will be able to see every day which are his assigned tasks and which activities are available, he will be able to accept if he can fulfill the task or in the opposite case cancel it or make an exchange. As with the Google calendar, all the events that arrive through your email account will be automatically recorded in your calendar, as a novelty the user can simply access an exchange or cancellation. Therefore and in summary the user would not find any difficulty in its use.
The community allows the user to contact other members of the community to exchange tasks, chat and arrange meetings, among other things. On the other hand, in the tasks option, the user can check which tasks are done, which are pending and which have been cancelled.
Before we focus on how the design of our app will be, we should highlight what will be the basic functions of the application by compiling the information obtained during the research, benchmaking and the pain points highlighted by our protojourney Álvaro.
Simple and up-to-date interface.
- First-hand information about the center, brief explanation of its rules and a photographic display of the common areas, activities and possible tasks.
- Schedule or daily agenda with the activities and tasks to be carried out during the day.
- Forum to talk with neighbors, exchange tasks and call meetings.
In conclusion, this is how the idea of our wireframes would look like.
In conclusion, this is how the idea of our wireframes would look like.
The user would have to download the application on his mobile device. As we see in the image of these wireframes corresponds to the welcome and access where the user can register or log in directly.
Then in this second image as requested we will find all the information about the community (location, rules, philosophy, spaces, tasks …).
Color and typography
While I was designing the wireframes, I projected in my head a modern and current design that would attract the user’s attention, I wanted to give it that familiar and at the same time fun touch, wanting to send a subliminal message to the user. Being part of a community is great!!!.
So for this I used the following color palette. I was looking for a striking color that would catch the user’s attention but that would not be heavy, so this golden yellow is ideal to represent the application as such, it gives body to the image with a comic but at the same time elegant air. White as always will be present in all our designs and as always will be the perfect background for any frame, the other colors are small touches that will be fixed in some CTA and typography.
Following the style of the whole design, the typography had to be clear and legible, so I chose Nunito, the classic typography that keeps a rounded style and friendly to the eye. The user will feel comfortable while reading it.
- Design System
Some of the key pieces I designed for the application to work. The icons provided from the UI KIT package, the cards designed with illustrations from a Figma package and the buttons.
0.1 Say, hello CoMAD!!!
Here is born CoMAD, the new mobile application to be in contact with your neighbors. CoMAD is much more than a simple neighborhood community, you will not only become part of it but you will feel that you are part of it. With its cohousing philosophy, you will live in a social and collaborative environment, you will share common spaces, you will take responsibility for the tasks entrusted to you and you will enjoy activities within a familiar and ecological environment.
If you are not yet a member of CoMAD app, what are you waiting for? It is very easy, follow the steps below and start living your new adventure.
1- Access to the application
Once you have downloaded the application, CoMAD, receives you with a warm welcome, the simple fact of being so simple and pleasant makes the new user feel curious to discover and learn more about it. Are you up for it?
2. Home (getting to know CoMAD)
As a member of the community you will be informed at all times of what is happening in CoMAD.
- News, programming, meetings…
- Schedule changes.
- Task exchanges.
- You will find all this and much more in the CoMAD Home. What do you think? it’s easy, isn’t it?
3.Calendar, this is how CoMAD works.
Start your day at CoMAD, check your calendar, what tasks do you have for today? Maybe some of them you don’t have time to do and you want to change it?
As you can see it is not complicated and it keeps the aesthetics of the conventional calendar of your mobile device. Let’s see a little more.
4. Forum: we need to talk.
When you have decided to exchange a task this is your place, here you will get in touch with your neighbors and offer the famous barter, don’t worry there is always someone willing to accept your offer. The forum also serves for many other things, something as simple as asking for salt, a classic, isn’t it?
Always think that in CoMAD you are going to be like family, that’s what it’s all about.
And by the way, if you have any skills for the tasks that are advertised you can always offer yourself, everything adds up.
This is a summary of what our application would offer,
0.5 Futuribles and conclusions.
We already have a CoMAD application, but while I was doing all this process I thought that web design would be another good option. I thought that it could be accessible to the public as an advertisement with the idea that it can be known a little about the concept of CoMAD. On the other hand as in all the pages will have an access to users as more than one may decide to make use of it if you are at home.
Here I leave a small design of how the web would be:
Here is a small view of how the Landing would look like, using a grid of 10 to 12 columns.
People interested in this housing concept can visit our website, they will have access to information about the housing concept, location, photo gallery, our services and much more. They only have to contact us and we will arrange an appointment.
As I said at the beginning of this research, I did not know about Cohousing to such an extent and with this I want to say that I did not know that this type of communities were used in our country, it is true that I have visited ecovillages or what we popularly know in some regions of Spain as abandoned villages that are occupied by a group of people with a philosophy of life more in contact with nature and less with technology, where they themselves restore their homes and harvest their food.
I can emphasize that this type of organization between communities is a very interesting idea and I think that the simple fact of encouraging cooperation and socialization between people is very important. Seen from a more psychological point of view, it makes the human being never separate himself from society, but to know that he has a group of people and that he can contribute his bit.
I don’t know about you, but it seems to me an ideal concept of life, it’s not bad to grow old like that, you will always feel like in a family. My parents have loved the idea, and you guys?
See you in the next adventure.