UX/UI Design
React
Typescript

Digitising social housing applications to drive efficiency

Experience Design
Software Engineering

Replace legacy manual processes with an automated social housing application journey, so users can enquire on properties directly.

Idea to launch in
6
months

Home Group, one of the UK's largest providers of housing, health, and social care, struggled with a manual social housing allocations process that was no longer fit for purpose. The current experience not only negatively impacted users and colleagues, but also limited Home Group's management of customer allocations, leading to operational challenges. Recognising the need for digital transformation, Home Group enlisted the expertise of Parallax and our team of service design experts. The goal was to deliver an end-to-end digital application form with the ability to advertise these specific properties on their website.

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This was an incredibly successful project launch delivered in a short period of time at Home Group, the end solution has improved our operational efficiency and the customer experience. Working in collaboration with Parallax has been key to the projects success.
Phil Muirhead
Lead Product Owner

Our approach to the project began with a comprehensive service design blueprint phase. We engaged Home Group colleagues, ensured compliance with legal regulations, and collected valuable feedback from various stakeholders through collaborative workshops. By documenting the existing journey, we identified key areas for improvement, pain points and established a vision for the final product. Recognising the importance of digitising the applications process, we drew inspiration from functional and user-friendly experiences that we encounter daily, aiming to leverage existing best practices.

We focused on two primary issues; showcasing available housing and simplifying the application process, helping their customers find and apply for housing.Β 

The existing method of accepting housing applications involved an inconvenient and over-complicated number of steps such as printing, signing, and mailing physical forms or PDFs. The process was extremely time consuming and error prone, requiring lots of back-and-forth and support from Home Group colleagues so that applicants could get through the whole process. The reliance on manual data entry into the Capita Open Housing system once the information was collected also added further complexities and risk of errors.

To streamline the user experience, we implemented a single-column, question-by-question user interface, ensuring applicants were not overwhelmed and could easily detect errors, while providing accurate information one step at a time. Due to the lengthy process, we introduced progress bars, tooltips, validation and a 'save your progress' function, along with clear labelling of sections and subsections, to enhance usability and ease of navigation.

A key milestone in our approach was the rapid creation of a low-fidelity prototype. This enabled us to validate the structure, input fields, field labels, calls to action, and feedback for both single and joint applications. Given the substantial amount of information to collect, we established well-defined rules and logic for each question set.

We wanted to strike a balance between simplicity and effectiveness, ensuring a more efficient application process for Home Group and once we had a better understanding of these requirements, we built the prototype.

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Advertising properties

Customers had been struggling to find properties so our first point of call was to improve the user experience design for finding a new home. We developed a custom property search map/list with detailed pages and included a register interest form for users. Using Laravel Nova as the backend, we created a user-friendly CMS for Home Group. This allowed them to efficiently create and manage properties within their existing website.

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Application form

We simplified the extensive application data from a 16-page PDF into five simpler sections, catering to both single and joint applications. We catered to both single and joint applications with separate forms. To address any potential challenges users may face, such as providing supporting documents and address history, we implemented returning applications. Users could conveniently revisit the form on any device, aided by a unique reference number, validated against their date of birth. By building a user-friendly multi-step form with clear progress indication, we improved the completion rate.
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We addressed the complexity of joint applications by developing a split view interface, simplifying input for applicants. To ensure seamless updates, we employed automated tests using Playwright across various routes, browsers, and devices.

Implementation on existing systems

Rolling out the solution to the existing website involved implementing a reverse-proxy at the CDN level in Azure. This enabled easy deployment alongside existing pages while retaining SEO visibility. The application form was developed as a React Single Page Application (SPA) in TypeScript. Data was stored offline using Local Storage and synchronised with the server. A BI dashboard with robust charting and exportable reports empowered operational teams to monitor application trends effectively. Validation was implemented using the Yup library, providing a comprehensive validation schema. Users could securely upload supporting documentation, and form fields were dynamically generated using react-hook-form.
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Our solution integrated innovative technologies and streamlined workflows, delivering a transformative digital experience for Home Group and their customers. The property management and application process were significantly improved, providing a user-friendly and efficient way to apply for social housing.

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