Creating emotional connection that adds value

Project Summary

Renthia is a Swedish based matchmaking platform between young professional expats and long term living accommodations all across Europe. Renthia came to us with a seemingly simple wish; How can we create an emotional connection between our platform and users? In turn generating value by increasing the time spent with their platform.

We focused on reimagining what a rental platform could be, how it communicates and nurtures a relationship with users. By exploring all frontiers, including the psychology of found behaviours.

We were able to create an prototype of an improved personalised space within the service. Taking the profile further than  just a cluster of information. Now we're able to explore, learn and get to know Renthia all in one place that the users will want to revisit.



Renthia's main paint point was that once a tenant signs a contract and moves into their home, there is limited engagement between users and the Renthia, except when they’re paying their monthly invoices.


there was a need for explorative thinking to tackle this brief, it was up to team itself to figure out the best approach, tools and deliverable for this project. With the trust built between client and my team we got almost no restrictions on how far we could take this.


From the users perspective, we had to confidently know what's actually valuable to tenants during their rental period. In order to make a truly engaging journey for tenants while also helping users create a stronger emotional connection to Renthia.

The Solution

With having 5 full weeks dedicated towards research, we knew that we had to be diligent. We wanted in this case to separate the research and the ideation processes to take our research abilities to a new level. By holding off from early solution searching we could enable ourselves to leave no stone unturned.

To be sure that we knew were our team's own biases were at the time of starting. We had to know with what eyes we were interpreting the brief in the first place. We did this by creating word association maps. These were categorised in two different maps called: "What does 'Feels like home' mean?", "Renthia AB".

With the collected insights we could then with much more ease come to our client with precise and aligned questions and insights. From here we were more capable to create our research plan document where we would outline the target group, potential interview questions and schedule of all the planned artefacts.

Competitive analysis

With our heads now focused in on the world of expats and rental platforms, we decided to move forward with a competitive analysis. We made this analysis based on what Renthia itself had describes their biggest competitors to be, and some companies that we complemented with ourselves.

The insights we gained at this stage were transformed into an artefact in and of itself where we categorised them into three levels of urgency.

The intent at this stage was to very clearly and concisely communicate what actions would need/should/could be implemented in order to compete directly with their competitors. Though the design process as a whole  brought us to a place where Renthia would compete in a league of their own, This part of the process was this vital to understand some core functionalities we would be able to explore that were smaller in scale that we wouldn't develop further in our prototype. Simply exploring the quality of life within the platform.

Surveys & interviews

Staying true to our research plan we continued on by finding our 6 interviews. We had to gain understanding of both the main target group which was described as;

- 25-35 years old
- Expat - young professional

But we also needed to find out more about the second largest users;

- 25-35 years old
- Looking for long-term rentals outside of business and/or travel reasons

As we started to analyse our findings, it became clear to us that while Renthia has been confident in being able to communicate with and serve their main target group. The second group seemed to get caught in the cross-fire and felt unhappy and confused about the service. Some reported being shocked when learning that they would be living in business travel apartments, designed for the first target group's need and not their own expectations.

Empathy map

Using all gathered data we combined the most useful insights that could help us broaden our minds going forward. By being able to refer back to this artefact we could make sure we could quickly take the second largest user group in to consideration. And as research opened more and more doors this became a reliable point to find the core pains and gains.

User journey map

Knowing we had to design for emotional connection, and learning through our Interviews that emotions don't start were we expect them to and neither do they end where we expect them to. How we relate to a service and experience it is a constant evolving process. And thankfully through our interviews where we had a chance to both interview potential, past and present users. We got direct sources of how the emotional rollercoaster of moving apartments can be. This became mapped out into our customer journey where through iterations it would serve as the main inspiration for our solution.

Now we could combine individual key insights from our interviews and compare them to the created journey. From here we were able to craft small and concise  summaries of the integral needs of the three phases of moving apartments. These together with our key words would serve as the basis for many design decisions to come.

Clearer expectations

- Renthia as a company, is a matchmaker between the tenants and the landlord, yet refers to the apartments as Renthia apartments. This creates confusion from the tenants side. For example, when should they contact Renthia or the landlord if any issue appears with the apartment during their stay.
- Being clear and up-front with users from the beginning about what they should expect when working with Renthia as a company is key for creating a great experience.
- This helps minimise the unexpected and creates a more flexible relationship.

To feel involved

- Involved in process build a stronger recognition for what they do, ultimately builds trust both ways
- Research showed a need for direct communication & a more thoughtful and exciting way for the user to operate.
- It comes down to safety, so two important keys for the user to get into their hands is User Overview & Control over their own journeys & interactions


And here we are, time to create. We ended up, thanks to our plentiful research, coming in to this stage with a decided hypothesis we wanted to investigate.

"If we create an informative visual representation of their journey that users can interact with throughout their rental experience. Then the user will learn about the process in a fun way with a minimal effort, that helps the user know what step to take next."

Using ideation methods to enable the whole team to brainstorm we could quickly identify areas of interest that we would sketch and discuss. Within the said Hypothesis we decided upon three core elements that would in turn align our goal.


Having explored so many visions of what the journey could look like from many different sources. We knew that it would be best if we could supply Renthia with a more in-depth picture of their users. Especially their said target group, at this stage mostly served a marketing purpose on a face value-level. We created Low-attachment Lucas in order to both give further context to our journey and supply our client with easy to read and understandable artefacts.

By combining our persona and our customer journey we created an element of story telling that would serve as a last step before starting the design process. In this story we could more easily make the scenario more human and truly feel like we are able to design around the human behaviour that we wished to explore. We finally arrived at our 3 core insights that would guide the final prototype into creation.

Understand product

- From our research we discovered a disconnect between the tenants, landlords and Renthia
- Why this disconnection occurs is that the landlord, tenant and Renthia are, at times, operating in silos, leading to important stages of communication
- The user needs to know who, what and when, at all times during their journey.
- If not; this would lead to more opportunities for disappointment or a feeling of confusion.

1. Number/quantifiable representation and feedback
2. Visual representation and feedback
3. Design framework and information architecture

To kickstart we made rough outlines of our envisioned  navigation journey. Here we could visualise quickly the system in which we are working, making it even easier to jump to sketching

With our wishes to make the users feel more involved and as an active participant in their own journey that they were steering themselves, we started creating the lo-fi sketches that would encapsulate this re-imagination with our new ideas around the utilisation of small-scale gamification.

Outcome and prototyping

The team was able to quickly start getting tons of ideas out there. Through this phase of the process we we’re able to narrow down and align on the scope of the gamification aspects as well. We didn’t want them to be intrusive or take away from the main goal of the apartment searching journey. We built our sketches and low-mid prototypes based on the current page layouts that existed. Making decisions of what needed to be changed within the navigation, without being disruptive.

We ended up creating a journey with tasks to complete, which gives the users recognition. Each of the tasks where carefully created based on our user journey and storytelling. This told us what information is needed at different critical steps before, during and after your rental experience. The tasks were intergrated to the level of feeling like second nature, with the difference being, seeing the real-time feedback and effects of the users time being spend on the platform.

Through testing we saw that there was a need to make it clearer to the users what step they were on, what was completed and what is the next step. And that each step needed to have clear and concise instructions that anyone could understand. From the tests we also added much more direction and links to the correct places to look in order to complete tasks.

We added the mid-milestone check-in’s as a way for Renthia to have an easier way to to monitor their users experience during their stay, and in order to not only rely on


After multiple iterations created through user tests and alignment, we created the final version of the mobile app UI. Within this final prototype Renthia could find everything we created to ensure that the new Renthia experience is a connected and open one. Taking all the feedback and behaviours we learnt to use, and ensure that there is something for every type of user and their individual needs.

Journey, milestones, information, system clarity, direct communication and unbeatable sleek UI layout. This is what makes the new Renthia UI feel like home, and builds an emotional bond with the users.

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