Duration: 3 weeks
Platform: Mobile app
Skills: UI/UX design, IXD design
Deliverables: Style tiles, High-fidelity mockups, Prototype, Style guide, UI kit
Tools: Sketch, InVision
Cleancio is a fast-growing and innovative Chicago-based startup helping Airbnb hosts maintain excellent guest reviews by providing an on-demand cleaning service. Since 2016, Cleancio has assisted rental property managers and owners improve the guest experience with prompt, punctual housekeeping services that meet industry-specific hospitality standards.
Rocio Lane, the company’s CEO and founder, reached out to Designation seeking help to reduce the complexity and extended learning curve of its platform. My team, which also included two designers, collaborated with Lane to analyze visual competitors, create design principles, conduct desirability and usability testing, and build individual design solutions that align to her brand and goals. The result: a mobile application that facilitates clear, efficient communication between managers and Cleancio’s housekeepers.
Cleancio used a third-party platform called Podio to manage the communication between housekeepers and managers. Unfortunately, it lacked the visual stimulation Cleancio customers craved. In addition, integrating Podio with the Cleancio platform created usability issues such as information redundancy and time inefficiency during assignments. With these three pain points in mind, our team evaluated wireframes provided by Cleancio. Extensive research, concepting and testing further guided our ultimate design solutions.
Service in unit Podio's user flow. Redundancy of information is highly noticeable in every screen, information isn't straightforward.
Wireframe key screens of cleaning service in unit.
We started our kick-off meeting with a 20-second gut test. We defined the project scope and some insights of what Rocio’s team wanted in the next 3 sprints. Some of their considerations regarding the test included:
Cleancio’s team approved these design guidelines and felt that they accurately aligned with their brand goals. With a better understanding, our team dove into domain research to gain inspiration from a wide assortment of relevant competitors that have similar conventions. We examined the direct competitors Care.com, Handy and Properly, which provide cleaning services similar to Cleancio.
On the other hand, we also looked at Airbnb, Skyscanner, TaskRabbit, indirect competitors that aren’t in the cleaning industry but have similar features such as schedules, communication between parties, and maps. We wanted to find visual ideas that approached one or more of our design principles.
I explored the combination of a dark background with light cards. Rounded yellow and white cards warm the design, giving it a friendly vibe. I used filled-in icons to keep the same contrast between the colors and background.
When Cleancio reviewed the tiles, they had a strong affinity for the first style. The color combination was harmonious. They liked the modern vibe this style conveyed and felt the layout was approachable and clean. Cleancio’s biggest critique was that the icons were too small and not intuitive enough. They also felt the typography was too friendly and rounded. Following their feedback, I combined elements from all the tiles to make the icons more obvious and the typography more professional.
We designed our three individual initial mockups, then conducted a round of desirability and a round of usability testing to understand if our designs aligned with our design principles. Although we knew we faced a language barrier, we significantly underestimated how many of our users were Spanish speakers with only a slight level of English comprehension. Since I’m bilingual, I conducted all the usability testing in addition to moderating and translating conversations to my team.
My biggest takeaway from this round of testing was the language barrier of our users. The final app requires more simplified language in addition to photos and visuals to supplement the text and make it clear. I also realized I need to be more deliberate with the use of color and iconography, using the contrast of color and filled or linear icons to clarify their use as clickable or simply informational.
My design solutions focused on the end user, Cleancio’s housekeepers, who needed an operational platform to monitor cleaning basics with simple communication and reporting. I laid out content using negative space, a clear hierarchy, intuitive calls to action, and a modern style.
Cleancio responded very positively to my designs, thanks to foundation of the initial wireframes and good communication with Cleancio’s team, who described the designs as “crisp,” “colorful,” “modern,” “easy” and “useful.” Rocio was happy to see all her ideas translated to reality, and I was happy to leave the company with a good set of designed screens. In our final meeting, Rocio commented that she wanted to work on more projects with Designation again.
Having a background in systems engineering, I can easily identify systems everywhere—even in design. For me, it’s important to design elements that matter in a creative and systematically way. For that reason, as part of delivering high-fidelity mockups I created a detailed UI Kit and style guide to use as a guideline in development. I paid attention to the use of color, CTAs, typography, grids, layouts and more. I’m glad I can build designs that matter, collaborating and working along with engineers and designers to clarify my designs throughout the lifecycle of a product.
Although I enjoyed working with Cleancio, I can easily identify some areas of improvement if I had more time to work on the project. Knowing the majority of housekeepers don’t speak English, I suggest developing a Spanish version. Cleancio might also consider an Android version of the app.
Additionally, because my designs were focused on the wireframes and improving the basic functionality of the app, we ignored some important extra features like messaging. I would like to conduct some other usability tests to tackle this function.
Finally, we focused on Cleancio’s housekeepers as the main users. However, more tests to study how managers and homeowners interact with the app will further improve the design flow and theme integration, encouraging them to continue return to Cleancio for their housekeeping needs.
During my time at Designation, I worked with teams in an agile environment, refining my design process in each iteration quickly and effectively. The variety of clients gave me the ability to be flexible with my designs and always align them with clients’ brands.
Building a connection with Cleancio’s team from the very first meeting made me feel comfortable opening up and speaking frankly. Learning about their personalities and needs enabled me to transform their product using effective designs that reached my client’s expectations. I feel very proud that Rocio was amazed how, in only three weeks, I understood their needs and included features that made their tasks more efficient. I learned to connect bridges between Rocio and her workers through my work and tests.
Through my creative director’s feedback, I learned how to think about color in a systematic way, build a design system where every color matters, and understand how color can be integrated into multiple levels of functions.
Most surprisingly, working with Cleancio showed me that my bilingual skills are an asset that make me more prepared to work and communicate with different stakeholders. This experience, my final client project at Designation, has taught me that I can value myself to take control of a situation in a way others can’t.
Our design team with Rocio, Norma and Brittne from Cleancio after the final meeting. They were astonished with the results we presented in only three weeks.Next Project