Chicag0 Housing Trust Website
Client Introduction

The Chicago Housing Trust, formerly known as The Chicago Community Land Trust  helps working individuals and families purchase homes and put down roots in their community when they might not have the means to do so otherwise. The Trust offers long-term security and stability to their network of homeowners, aiding them through the process of ownership to ensure their ongoing success.
Ten week collaborative project through DePaul University with a community client.
The Team:
Evelyn Binter, User Experience Design Senior
Ross Dillon, User Experience Design Senior
Edith Drupka, User Experience Design Junior
Nicholas Seda, User Experience Design Senior
The Problem
Chicago Housing Trust website users are unable to easily find equitable housing units, resources, and information online. The current website isn’t displaying available units and is not up to date, which is a problem because it is causing a lot of emails and a messy backend for CHT. 

How might we assist CHT to increase information accessibility for new and existing homeowners within their network? By designing a WordPress website, we hope to not only improve CHT’s digital presence, but also to enhance the experience of homeownership for their user base.

Client Wants:
(1) Ability to maintain and update the website in-house.
(2) Automated sign-up capabilities for prospective homebuyers (note: the current process involves lots of back-and-forth emails).
(3) A real-time list of available units for prospective homebuyers to browse.
(4) The opportunity to support other kinds of users beyond homeowners, such as developers and philanthropic partners.
The intended audience is defined as:
-Low- to moderate-income legacy Chicagoans seeking first-time homeownership
-People applying to the program
-Existing homeowners within the network seeking support
-Land developers seeking partnership with Chicago Housing Trust
-Philanthropists wishing to donate
Personas
User Stories
As a home buyer, I want to be able to easily find information about what units are available and additional information on them so that I can make an educated decision about purchasing a home.

Acceptance criteria: 
-A home buyer can easily navigate to where units are displayed on the site.
-A home buyer is able to see a map or list of units, and make educated decisions about the best housing option. 
-A home buyer is able to find information such as pricing, location, and any additional amenities.
-A home buyer is able to apply to purchase the home they desire.
As a family home buyer,  I want to find an affordable home for me and my family. As well as being informed on all the units available and the process to apply for housing.
 
Acceptance Criteria:
-A family home buyer is able to browse through all the units available to see his options.
-A family home buyer is able to view how to apply for housing.
-A family home buyer is able to view a map of all available houses in the community. 
As a prospective home buyer, I want to be able to find a home I love that’s affordable, in my ideal area, where the people helping me with this process are people that I can trust.

Acceptance Criteria:
-A prospective home buyer can see visually where an array of possible homes are located, on a map, possibly with a short description of the area
-A prospective home buyer is able to understand the process of buying a home (all the ins-and-outs) clearly
-A prospective home buyer is able to conceptualize that the Trust is a reliable and reputable option in the house-hunting and purchasing process. 
As a philanthropic partner, I want a streamlined way to donate and know how my donation will be used by the Trust.

Acceptance Criteria: 
-A philanthropic partner is able to easily see a breakdown of how their donation might be utilized.
-A philanthropic partner is motivated to make a donation.
Functional & Non-functional Requirements

Homeowner Application Form
This application should have a way to ensure that all required documentation is submitted alongside the application. This limits back-and-forth emails between the Trust and applicants and creates a more organized, streamlined application process.

List of Currently Available Units
The client would like to list currently available units on their website. These listings should appear in a grid view and include photos. When clicking on a unit, a user can read details about the listing and see the location on a map.

Events Calendar
On their present website, Trust has a calendar of events using Google Calendar. They would like to keep this feature in their new website. We can easily embed their existing calendar using the Wordpress.com Google Calendar Block.

Mailing List Registration
The client frequently uses their mailing list to keep in contact with their network. Currently, they use a Constant Contact form to register users to their mailing list. There are several options for implementing this feature on the new website. 

Visual Appeal/Aesthetic & Color Scheme
The color scheme of the website will simply stay consistent with Chicago Housing Trust’s current main colors, their signature light-orange (peach) and light-green. However, the website’s overall aesthetic will be clean, with a white background. Additionally, the Trust wishes that the new website is more visual-oriented (and visually appealing in doing so) when presenting information on their listings. What this could look like is having an organized grid of high-to-good quality images of their properties for the website visitors to browse from. 

Website Security
Security of the website-to-be-made is something that is very important to Chicago Housing Trust, and something that we’ll be prioritizing with the creation of the new WordPress site. Majority of the reason for this is because, given a big goal of this new site is to have people submit applications and other important documentation on the website, we want to make sure that any sensitive information on the Trust side or homeowner side is protected & safeguarded.

User-Friendly & “People-Oriented”
Chicago Housing Trust’s vision, brand, and mission statement really hits on the idea of equity for the people of Chicago, in regards to homeownership. Given this and the wishes of the Trust, we want to make this website as user-friendly and “people-oriented” as possible. This means showcasing testimonials, narratives, and stories of those that work/have worked with or alongside thee Trust. This idea came about to make the website more personable and to really see the positive impact that the Trust has on everyday Chicagoans. 
Information Architecture
Wireframe
Remotely the team got together and each drafted one of the main pages of the website.
Apply Now, Home (Landing page), Programs, & About.
Website - Desktop
Website - Mobile
User Testing & Results
12 User Tests administered using usertesting.com.

Example task, filtering listing based on income, where participants had different paths. 
Followed by a question about visual appeal of website, with suggestions.
Recommendations 

-Replace lorem ipsum and other placeholders with real content before promoting the new website.
-“CHT Homeowners” is not a clear page title, and could be changed to something that more accurately describes the page’s content. “Current Homeowners” is a possible suggestion.
-Make testimonials more visually interesting, possibly with photos or emphasized quotes.
-Including a "Contact Us" form to the contact us page.
-Make AMI filtering and filtering organization easier to find and navigate visually.
Reflection

Problems
-We set our project scope a bit too big.
-We had a lot of ideas and a big vision when it came to approaching how to design this website and functionality we could add.
-How to present content and implement specific features.
-We’re all pretty new to WordPress, so it took some time to learn about what functions are built into WordPress and what we needed to find plug-ins for.
-Staying flexible.
-The organization was going through a rebranding, from Chicago Community Land Trust to Chicago Housing Trust. Because of this, some content was not ready with the new branding elements.
Solutions
-We found solutions where we could, and we were honest with our client when we did not have time to implement something to the originally desired extent.
-We went through a lot of trial and error, and we researched solutions whenever we were unsure of an answer.
-For some areas, we used the Chicago Community Land Trust content. For others, we left placeholders. We will provide the organization with instructions for updating the content as it is ready.
Collaborated and hypothesized a plan based on ideas & input / feedback.
The group really came together throughout the project to brainstorm the best ideas & determine the most strategic plan based on the input & feedback we received from our community partner. When we would receive information & feedback from the community partner on what’s desired for the website, the four of us would come together to decipher the best way to get that specific idea completed in the best way for the website. 

Kept in contact
When going through this process and through any setbacks we had, we made sure to stay-in-touch with each other and our community partner to ensure that any obstacles we had were overcome & that our ideas were implemented correctly. Whenever we needed anything from each other or the community partner, we made sure to clearly communicate 

Consistency & division-of-work
With any task that had to get addressed, we stayed consistent with how it got done, and we consistently divided up the work in our group to address what needed to get done. This meant dividing & conquering, checking in with the group regularly/consistent communication, keeping consistent processes, and triple checking each other’s work.

Overall the client and initial user feedback proved the website to be a successful solution to the problem.

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