Virginia Oaks is a second-chance apartment community in McKinney, Texas. As part of my involvement with the Design at UCSB club during the summer of 2020, I volunteered with a group of five other designers to re-brand and re-design the Virginia Oaks website.
The original website was difficult to navigate, aesthetically unappealing, and challenging to find through a Google search. We addressed these concerns by conducting user research, defining pain points, brainstorming solutions, prototyping, and testing our designs.
The old website greeted the user with a brick wall, dreary imagery, poor contrast between text and background, and confusing navigation.
The new website features completely re-organized navigation and an accessible, modern, and intuitive interface.
To inform our design decisions and address user needs, we conducted Zoom interviews with five people who had used apartment websites to pay rent and seek information.
We found that most interviewees wanted to see information about the surrounding area, so we added a Community page.
After deciding on the site's organization, we used Adobe XD to make wireframes. Below are some of my designs.
Working closely with the apartment's manager, I was in charge of designing the Virginia Oaks logo and website illustrations. I incorporated the letters 'V' and 'O' into a nature scene including an oak tree, which best captures the rural landscape of McKinney, Texas.
Some of my initial sketches and color palette planning:
From our user research, we determined that tenants valued the ability to pay rent on their mobile devices. Also, Virginia Oaks caters to low-income groups, so we designed a simplified mobile experience that functions seamlessly on both new and old devices.
This project was my first glimpse into the world of UX/UI design, and I learned firsthand the importance of designing with the user in mind, rather than making assumptions based on "what looks good." Throughout the process, we brought our findings to the apartment manager and persuaded him that the site's new organization was based on real user preferences. We saw a dramatic improvement to site analytics within a month of the site's launch. Visits to the website over the past year have remained relatively consistent, as shown by the graph below.