Mobile Application  - Purple Panda Rentals

Project Duration:

December 2023 (2 mo)


Purple Panda Rentals


Figma, Miro, Maze


Mobile Application


Product Designer


Purple Panda Rentals is a rental listing platform specifically for college students. The website launched December of 2023 and I wanted to provide a mobile application to increase the accessibility of our platform to users. Along with saving money, students benefit from the independence and housing flexibility that off-campus housing provides. As the founder of Purple Panda, my vision has always been to give college students the power to discover their off-campus experience.


Finding off-campus housing is a hectic and time-consuming task for students. In addition, students often feel lost with no mainstream platform that facilitates off-campus listings with features tailored for the college experience.


The goal is to determine how students find off-campus housing and the successes and frustrations in this space. Deliverables for this study are to create a new mobile iOS application for Purple Panda Rentals.


The process for this project includes the following:


User Interviews and findings

Competitive Analysis



Use Cases

User Persona

High Level Design Goals


Site Map

Task Flow


UI Kit

Hi-Fidelity Screens


Usability Test

Affinity Map


Final Prototype



To further understand the problem space, I went into a research phase focused on three methodologies: user interviews, competitive analysis, and surveys. First, user interviews were conducted to gain further insight into college students' leasing and searching habits and to identify essential features to include in the mobile application. I recruited four former college students for the interview process.

Interview Findings


  • To find a place to live for the year or semester.
  • To save money from expensive on-campus dorming.
  • To have your own  room or “quiet place.”
  • To be close to campus in a safe area.
  • Have  flexibility of where to live.

Pain Points

  • Taking a long time to find a place to live.
  • Not enough listings.
  • Non-responsive landlords.
  • Not being in a safe area.
  • Having maintenance issues with rental.
  • Calculating the total cost of the rental with living expenses.

Primary Goals

  • To do well in all their classes.
  • Find a place to live off-campus.
  • To save money.
  • To be close to their campus.
  • Save time when looking for a place to live.
  • Have options of rentals when searching.
  • Meet new people and make friends.
  • Relax and wind down in there own space.

Competitive Analysis:

Many direct competitors have explored this specific space in real estate. However, none are as mainstream or frequently used as the indirect competitors. Therefore, I began comparing my direct and indirect competitors to audit features from which my platform might benefit. I also used the more established companies in the RaaS (Real Estate as a service) market as a benchmark to build off of.


This competitive analysis concluded that there is a need for a platform that marries Zillow's ease of use and rental space value with College Pads-specific student features and tools.



I conducted a nationwide survey to cast a significant net of students to validate my assumptions. This survey was conducted anonymously with a total of 270 college students, 48% male, and 52% Female.

While this survey validated many of my assumptions and research, it also brought out some insightful data.

What are your first steps when looking for off-campus housing?

What's important to you in a off-campus house or apartment?


  • 76% currently live off-campus.
  • 53% use Zillow to find there home/apartment.
  • 25% use Google or local ads.
  • 57% proximity to campus was the most important  factor when looking for a place to live.
  • 51% said the rental price was the most important factor when looking for a place to live.


  • 81% prefer to stay in one apartment for multiple semesters.
  • 15% calculating cost between rent, utilities, and living is frustrating when sorting rentals.
  • 42% finding a student to sublease their apartment was frustrating between semesters.
  • 34% students had maintenance and landlord issues in the past.


Insights from my research concluded that students want a place to stay off-campus that is affordable, close to campus, has a reputable and responsive landlord, and is in a safe and decent area. I will use the insight to build out and include specific features on the Purple Panda Mobile application.



I developed a user persona to represent all the voices heard during the research phase. This persona will help me stay aligned with my user goals and motivations and remind me of the problems I must solve for users.

Next, defining how a user will interact with this application was essential and what features to include. For example, what screens are most important to student renters? What makes sense and is the most helpful to students using this app?



I conducted a card sorting exercise to understand how my users would group critical information on this application. Then, I used this information to build out a site map. It was essential to keep the familiarity found with other real estate services applications while including the unique features that Purple Panda Rentals offers to the market.


When building this app architecture, I was challenged on what features to include and leave out. I knew I wanted to have the subleases section or roommate matcher on this application. I ultimately decided to include the sublease section over the roommate feature. Based on the students I researched, a sublease section prioritized finding a roommate. This finding surprised me. However, this is not to say that having a roommate matcher would be unutilized. All students had positive feedback when hearing about this tool, which I noted for future designs.

Assessing the flow

User Task Flow Chart

I wanted to showcase the process for new and current users to open, view, and favorite a listing for this user flow. Like Zillow, I decided to include onboarding questions for new users because it helps set preferences for their new profile. Below you can also see that users can view listings on either a map or list view.


Brand persona and design

The goal and brand alignments of Purple Panda Rentals were to create a  fun, bright, and easy-going message while being professional and educational. Besides helping college students find off-campus housing, I wanted to create a place where college students can learn, grow and connect.


Note that the brand logo, colors, and typography were pre-existing. Therefore, it was critical to keep our website's design, tone, and message into our mobile design.

ui kit



HI-FIDELity Screens

I created high-fidelity mockups in Figma to develop an interactive prototype.

Onboarding Screens

Searching, Filtering and Favoriting

Sublease and message


usability Testing

I created three high-fidelity prototypes using Figma to test these designs and conducted usability tests using Maze. Finally, I devised three tasks representing three use cases of the app and documented the results. 17 users participated in this test.


I chose to use a self-proctored usability test over a proctored test to eliminate any tester leaning or bias while conducting the test. I also wanted to get a broader range of participants.

I chose maze because it allowed me to receive more data when testing, such as direct and indirect success rates, heatmaps, and misclicks.

Task 1: Creating an Account

Task instructions

You just downloaded the Purple Panda application. Please open it, create an account and complete all the onboarding questions so you can start searching.

testing notes

All users successfully created new accounts and completed all onboarding questions. The onboarding questions were appropriate for the testers, who could complete their signup in an adequate timeframe.

Task completion rate


Task 2: Searching and Favoriting

Task instructions

After creating your account, you start searching for your next off-campus rental. Your search criteria are Baylor University, max rent $1,000 a month, two bedrooms, two bathrooms, house type: apartment, dog-friendly, and dishwasher and dryer. After narrowing down your search, select a listing and add it to your favorites.

testing notes

There were high misclicks in the filter screen as some users were not selecting the appropriate filters in the set order or selecting the text over the toggle switch due to the limitation of the prototype. However, there were also accessibility issues, with some users unable to make out the heart icon.

Task completion rate


Task 3: Subleases and Messaging

Task instructions

Find a sublease near Baylor University that fits your budget of $1,000 per month. Once you locate the listing, message the student. Finally, find and locate your new message in your inbox.

testing notes

Out of all three tasks, this was the most difficult for users. The main point is not being able to navigate back to the inbox page. Again this was partially due to the limitations of the prototype. Besides the protoype limitations, some testers struggled to see the back arrow to navigate back to the inbox page.

Task completion rate




The feedback from the user testing was synthesized using an affinity map to guide design decisions.
Next, defining how a user will interact with this application was essential and what features to include. For example, what screens are most important to student renters? What makes sense and is the most helpful to students using this app?


After my first usability testing and satisfying a direct success rate of 85% for the second task and 63% for the third task, I reiterated my design and functionality of the prototype.

Task 3: Subleases and Messaging

Functionality of nav menu and pop-up modals

  • Some testers had difficulty pressing on the sublease button on the nav menu.
  • Similar to the filter menu testers where clicking on the text on the pop up modal instead of the button.
  • Functionality of on the filter screen with some testers clicking on the text instead of the button.

Task 2: Searching and Favoriting

Navigation menu, header layout, functionality of filter menu

  • The navigation and top header seemed to bare and not matching the style of the company.
  • Heart icon and back arrow was hard for some participants to see.
  • Functionality of on the filter screen with some testers clicking on the text instead of the button.

final screens

Task 2: Searching and favoriting
Task 3: SUbleases and messaging


Upon the second iteration of the usability test, there was a 100% direct success rate for both tasks. However, there are areas to be improved on the subleasing page. For example, security and trust were questioned by testers as critical deciding factors when subleasing from a stranger. In future designs, I will build out possible verified student profiles or review sections to create more trust and reputation for prospecting student subleases.

For the next steps of this project, I would like to build out the property publisher screens completing the application design.

There are many possibilities for the coming future of the company. As the founder, I am very excited to see and hear from users when the website goes live. Then, I can have a user base to go off of and create a product envisioned in my mind and the user.