Tami Buckman


Neighborhood Networks

The Background

People can live close to each other and yet not be close. Neighborhoods with a collaborative network share resources and foster healthy families and individuals.

Problem Statement

How might we create a positive online space for users to connect with others in their neighborhood?

The Team

UX Researchers & Designers

Jenn Pinkos

Francesca Narvaez

Tami Buckman




Figma, Figjam


Google Docs & Forms

Google Jamboard




8 weeks

Research Methodology

Competitive Research

Online Surveys

User Interviews

Affinity Mapping

Competitive Research


Well-known, private social network for neighborhoods founded in 2008. Homeowners in every state: 275,000 neighborhoods globally. Nearly 1 in 3 U.S. households.

What they do well

Require a joining code from postcard mailed to residence.

Opportunities for Improvement

Default geographic scope is too broad: social events and safety concerns for surrounding neighborhoods. Users express frustration with moderators.

Facebook Groups

Although not specifically for neighborhood connections, this popular social connection tool is used by many groups including neighborhoods. Facebook offered the ability to create groups in 2019.

What they do well

Facebook has a huge engaged global user base.

Offering a way to connect with groups in an app where so many users already connect to friends is a differentiator.

Opportunities for Improvement

Not yet well known is that in 2021 Facebook created Facebook Neighborhoods: a section of the Facebook app dedicated to your neighborhood; an alternative to Nextdoor.

Neighbors by Ring

Know what is going on within a 5 mile radius of your house in order to be safe. Do not need to own a Ring Doorbell.

What they do well

Know what is going on within a 5 mile radius of your house in order to be safe. Do not need to own a Ring Doorbell.

Opportunities for Improvement

People that do not own a Ring doorbell are probably not aware that you do not need one to use this app.

Key Learnings from Competitive Analysis

Even though Nextdoor is well known and has a lot of users, there were several areas where it is falling short. Its reputation got a bit of a bumpy start due to scammers and inappropriate posts. They have since introduced moderators which are causing a different level of user frustration. Users also expressed that they see too much content for surrounding areas: not for their particular neighborhood. Our app could be different with targeted, relevant content and a focus on creating a on safe, friendly environment for connection.

Google Survey

Research Questions

What do people with a great connection to their neighborhood have in common?

What platforms, if any, do people use to connect currently? What do they love/hate about these platforms?

Is this a product or service that is needed?

What needs are being neglected by the current products in the market?

What are the users’ motivations? What do people value about connecting with their neighborhood? What are the benefits for the user?

Who We Interviewed

Findings from Interviews

People need a place to go to find out about their neighborhood and connect with their neighbors. They want specific, relevant, useful and positive information. This further validates that an app like this is needed. People see their neighbors as an important resource to their lives. 

They want to choose the geographic scope of the neighborhood and who they want to create deeper connections with. This helps not only to keep things relevant but to really foster relationships. It’s hard to do that with hundreds of people at once.

Most people want to know their neighbors casually online but then want to continue some connections deeper offline.

Design Process

Product Name Ideas | Design Sprint: User Goals, Flows and Solution Sketches | Mood Boards | Branding

Information Architecture | Wireframes (Low, Mid, High) | Prototypes | Usability Testing

Design Sprint

Over the course of a few hours, the team worked together to sprint through several ideas and solutions in order to support the needs observed in interviews.

User Flow

Explore situations that potential users may find themselves in both on and off-line.

User Flow

Notes & Ideas

Designers individually thought through potential features and solutions.

Notes Figjam

Solution Sketches

Ideas were then quickly ideated on in order to think through notes more fully, which led directly into wireframes.

Solution Sketches



The Dutch word Gezellig means good vibes, the feeling or warmth you get when spending time with people you care about in a cozy environment.

Mood Board

Mood Board

Logo Ideas

logo ideas

Information Architecture

Information Architecture

While creating our wireframes, our team did a card sorting exercise to get a handle on the information architecture of the app. This was really helpful when creating different pages.

Content Strategy

  • Focus on what makes us different – our unique selling proposition
  • Differentiation – not just to have conversations, but facilitate in person conversations and relationships
  • Concentrate on giving users options: display name, what information they want to see, who exactly can view them and their activity
  • Tone: Civil, Helpful, Casual/Conversational, Warm

Our content strategy was informed by our user research. Neighbors want to connect in a safe, friendly environment. Our terms and conditions stated the desired tone for participation and addressed privacy and safety questions.

Form Design

The Account Set Up flow was divided into manageable sections and provides options for the user to specify their privacy preferences and geographic scope.

Low Fidelity Wireframes

Account Set Up Flow
Account Flow Low Fidelity
Helping Hands Flow
Helping Hands flow low fidelity

The Helping Hand feature gamifies the action of helping your neighbor by giving you a badge every time you help someone out.

Design System in Figma

Design System

Prototype Demo

Usability Testing

We created a test plan using Waze in order to send out our prototype to potential users. Using this platform gave us a visual representation of where users were having trouble as well as direct feedback from comments they made about the current direction of the design. 

Overall, the responses were very positive and the testers were eager to have more prototypes to click through and explore.

Moving forward, we want to continue to build out features and functionalities in order to send out for the next round of user testing. 

Maze screenshot