Building Buddy

Lending a helping hand to our neighbors

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Problem Statement: Elderly residents need help with small tasks that younger people in the apartment complex would gladly help out with -
if only they knew about them.


All stages of the UX Design process, from foundational research to the UI of the final interactive prototypes


I used the UX Design Process: Understand, Analyze, Ideate, Validate, Iterate.


A native mobile app that works with a responsive website which facilitates meaningful connections between people who live in the same apartment building or complex.


January to May 2022

Building Buddy

L: Splashpage of the mobile app
R: Homescreen of the elderly's Requestors side


Hypothesis: So many older people don't know who to ask when they have a small task they need help with. An app, designed specifically for the elderly, that connects them with younger people who live in the same apartment building or complex would help them feel supported and would create meaningful connections among neighbors.

Business Opportunity: Everyone I spoke with about this project, including potential Helpers, Requestors, and the custodian of my building, said they would use it. The custodian loved the idea because it would free him up from handling every single request so he could deal with more pressing issues.

Some of the metrics of success that could be applied to this product are the number of requests that are facilitated through the app, and how many of them were handled among residents without involvement from the custodian.


Competitive Analysis: I audited 6 competitors to understand how various organizations connect people who need help with people who want to help.

User Interviews: I interviewed 6 people, ages 45-85 who might use the app as a Helper, Requestor or Custodian.

The Helpers were asked what kinds of tasks they would be willing and unwilling to help out with. The Requestors were asked what features had to be in the app for them to use it and what kinds of small tasks they might want help with. And the custodian was asked what features he would like to see in the app.


The Foundational Research yielded these artifacts:

Competitive Audit

Competitive Audit Report


User Stories

User Journey Maps

Problem Statements

and these Pain Points:

Who to ask?

Elderly people need help with small tasks around the house (especially with the phone) but don’t know who to ask

Who to help?

Young people are happy to lend a hand but don’t have a way to connect to the people who need help

Need oversight

Custodians would like a way to oversee the helping interactions between residents and have a way to keep track of tools he has loaned

Desire to connect

Residents would like to create more connections between their neighbors


To try different stylistic directions before nailing down the design, I did a storyboard, several Crazy 8 exercises, and drew dozens of pages of paper wireframes

I did this process twice: once for the mobile app and again for the website.

Design Considerations


Because my neighbors and test subjects do not speak English, I had to make two sets of all the digital wireframes - in English and Italian.

Essential design

To make things as simple as possible for the elderly users, the mobile app would require no typing at all. The interface must have large, colorful buttons and use voice messages.


Because the elderly typically have low-end, small-screened phones and don't always know how to scroll, I designed the mobile app for a small android phone, without the need to scroll.


The wireframes had to be designed all the way out because the elderly tend not to have mental models with which to navigate new digital experiences.

Building Buddy

Wireframe of the home screen of the webapp on a mobile

Digital Wireframes

Digital wireframe prototypes were created for the two sides of the mobile app as well as all three screen sizes for the responsive website. Click here to see the wireframe prototype of the website on the mobile. Click here to see the wireframe prototype of the mobile app.


Usability Tests

I did three rounds of testing.

After writing the Research Study Plan, I conducted a round of Usability Testing for the dedicated mobile app with two elderly Requestors and a Helper to discover the weaknesses in the design. After integrating the feedback and completing the design, I did a second round of usability testing.

For the webapp, I did a single round of testing at the wireframe stage.

Building Buddy

An Affinity Map was created with the results of each cycle of testing.


Building Buddy

Final Designs

This screen shows the two-column approach I took for the tablet and desktop versions of the responsive website,

Building Buddy

From the Requests page, the custodian can see statistics about the requests and information about specific requests.

Building Buddy

Details of a request is shown to a Helper so they can choose whether to help or not. The request is voice-recorded and transcribed by the app.

UI Design

The native mobile app

There are two sides to the mobile app: one for the Requestors, the other for the Helpers.

The side for the Requestors was designed for the elderly, while the side for the Helpers was designed in Light and Dark Modes.

The responsive website

The website was designed with the custodian in mind. It allows them to oversee the use of the mobile app, provides access to the details and messages of every user, alerts him to requests that remain open, and keeps track of the tools he has loaned out.


  • I really enjoyed designing specifically for the elderly! The constraints force one to be creative. Icons aren't necessarily understood; gestures, like scrolling, aren't necessarily understood; buttons have to be large and typing has to be minimized. On-boarding and tutorials have to be extremely concise. Their tech also has to be taken into consideration as they are often on hand-me-down telephones with small screens.

  • I did a lot of experimentation with drop shadows vs. stroke for emphasis for this project. I also designed the UI several times, playing with color combinations that gave greater or less contrast.

  • For my previous project the responsive website was designed from the larger screen size to the smallest. That process was very smooth and didn't require going back over the initial designs to adjust them. For this project, the task was to design the website from the smaller screen to the larger. I have yet to see the benefit to designing this way, but the experience was important.

Click in the top right corner of the frame to see the prototype full size.

The whole story

Please get in touch if you would like to see all the steps I took and the research that informed my design decisions. I'd love to share it.

Thank you for looking.