Strengthening neighbors' communication

This one is my experience of designing "E-Komsu" -a web app for neighborhoods to become more communicative.


Sole contributor

What I did?

User research, created personas, wireframes, flows, produced high-fidelity mockups.

Project Duration

6 months

It all was the cloud of dust.

In the last year of my university life, I wanted to work on a project that I can be more familiar with "the design thinking process" and worked on this project.

Who are the people in your neighborhood?

In my country, Turkey, neighborhoods used to be places where people socialized and discussed their daily happenings. But now this tradition seems to have disappeared in big cities. People who live in the same building, street, or neighborhood don’t even know each other, and this situation has some challenges.

So my goal for this project was to take advantage of technology to strengthen communication in neighborhoods.
And the oscar goes to our target users?

First of all, to empathize with people to understand their experiences and motivations, I started the user research with contextual interviews with random 30 people of all ages between 20-75 to find out what people think about the current existence of neighborliness and the way of their living in neighborhood.

Do people have strong ties with their neighbours than before in big cities?

While some people stated that neighborhood relations in big cities are not as strong as before, some of them said that this fact depends on where they live.

Well, for them, what are the reasons for this decrease?

I divided all the answers into three groups in the fishbone diagram. (You can see it below).

Do they care about the neighborhood culture?

According to the answers given, people in their 50s or older have communication with their neighbors and they still attach great importance to the sense of neighborliness. But, 30 % of the other people I interviewed think in a more individual way like "why I have to keep in touch with people just because they're living in my apartment?", while the other 70% of them want to communicate with neighbors but don't make an effort for that.

What are my observations?
"Positive changes in the socio-economic terms lead to the weakening of neighborhood culture."

I think we should focus on two different terms when we need to describe the current existence of neighborliness.

  • Age
  • Income

If we speak about income, positive changes in the socio-economic terms lead to the weakening of neighborhood culture. People with high income expect from neighbors to not share their private life. In the rush of work-life, since the house becomes a place to rest, it is unnecessary to communicate with neighbors for them while they have already family and friends.

Who are they? What do they need?

After finished informative interviews and observations, to get these impressions out, I used personas to help me do that.

Through the analysis of my research data, to place people in different corners, and to be able to create personas according to the differences, I identified three different labels:

  • Communication with neighbors
  • Social life
  • Local commitment

Then with the benefit of using these labels, I defined four different personas that I used to simplify the understanding of user goals, needs, limitations.

(I mainly focused on supporting the goals of primary personas, then secondary personas.)

Defining the problem

What do I want to achive?

To set out the specific challenges I will address, I defined a clear problem statement for primary and secondary personas in a goal-oriented manner.

Questions that open up to ideation session

Using how might we technique

After I'd defined problem statements, I started asking “How Might We?” questions to make throwing all ideas out there easy.

Generating ideas

Taking all ideas out of my mind and organize them was my first job at this stage. To achieve that, I've personally chose "mind mapping technique". First of all, I wrote down problem statements then solutions and ideas that comes to my mind.

Examining ideas with value-added analysis method

To choose all the ideas that actually add value to the lives of the users, I've decided to use "value-added analysis technique".

Value-added analysis is a method to identify ideas to eliminate unnecessary ones and enhance the impact of the product for users. I extracted every idea in the mind map and classified them into one of three categories, namely:

Value-adding ideas

Produces value or satisfaction for the user. When determining whether or not a idea is value-adding, I asked the following questions:

  • Would the user agree that this idea is neccesary to achieve their goals?
  • If this idea is removed, would the user perceive that the product is less valuable?

Product value-adding ideas

For this ideas, the criteria is:

  • Would the product (potentially)suffer in the long term if this idea was removed?
  • Is this idea required in order to improve the product?

Non-value adding ideas

Everything else besides value-adding ideas and product value-adding ideas.

"Identifying and classifying the ideas as shown above showed me the possible way for the product feature roadmap."
Designing pathways

Documenting the process needed to achieve user goals and defining how execute the ideas identified through mind mapping was my goal when I started to create user flow diagrams.

I outlined the steps that the user has to take for different scenarios. And below, you can see some of all the diagrams I created.

-Please click on pictures to zoom.-

Creating the structure and the direction

To understand and show the visual representation of the navigation features and hierarchy I created a sitemap.

After creating sitemap, I started to sketch how the content will be shown on each screen. Because of time pressure, I jumped straight from sketching to prototyping.

Have to choose your street, sir!

The project narrows users' networks to people who live in their street, not the other people living in other areas. So they must choose the street they live on.

But, as a negative point, improving the user registration process for users' security and privacy is an important thing in the project to consider for the future.

Focusing on their social life

There are three pages for their social activites.

  • Events
  • For sale
  • Recommendations

With the for sale page, users can buy or sell items but can’t take payments through the app, they can just contact the seller through messages for details like price, etc. Also for the recommendations page, there're 4 subcategories: cafe, shop, hospital, and pharmacy.

Public servants

While researching Serdivan Municipality's services, I saw that there is a veterinary service for stray animals.

After notifications sent by phone, petition, or e-mail, collecting stray animals, transporting them to the rehabilitation center, neutering, and vaccinating then taking them back where they were collected is what they're doing during the process.

Using this application to connect with people would be easier for municipal employees since there would be no multiple notifications channels like e-mail, phone to follow. So I included this veterinary service into the project along with other public servants like police to connect with citizens more closely and directly.

First slide
First slide
Report your loss and safety issues

When we lost an item or are a victim of theft and that kind of safety problems, it's important to take action quickly.

So to check and share security alerts, lost pets, and items quickly, there should be a page for these kinds of issues in the project.

Thinking about the work I've done here

When studying information systems engineering but want to switch to a design career, this project was a great opportunity for me to be able to experience the design thinking processes within six months. But because of time pressure, I didn't do usability testing from early development until the last part.

Also, it was too easy for me to get caught in the trap of focusing on “making it beautiful” without attaching importance to the actual purpose of the design. I hope I've kept a balance between both sides.

In the end, the learning process is still going on for me.