Nifty Gifty
 
Designing an end-to-end second-hand marketplace app
May/June 2021
Defining the problem
 

The culture of gift-giving is broken. In 2019 alone, survey results showed that in the UK, participants spend over £50 on presents they know their loved ones won't appreciate. If the recipient ends up keeping these gifts, they only end up gathering dust in the corner of the room and getting no use at all.

An ambitious startup called Nifty Gifty aims to help alleviate this problem by creating a second-hand marketplace app where gift recipients can list these items for prospective buyers. The item in question goes to good use and the seller is able to get rid of household clutter.

As the sole designer, I set about researching this problem and designing an effective end-to-end marketplace app that would meet the startup's requirements.

Scope

Designing an end-to-end application

Role

UX Researcher

UX/UI Designer

Tools

Figma

Whimsical

InVision

Duration

2 weeks / 80 hours

Note

This is a project I completed for Designlab’s UX Academy. Nifty Gifty is not a real company. However, the research is organic and the design is based on real user voices, in combination with mentor and fellow student feedback 🤙

"How might we offer a buy and sell process that is seamless and encourages the user to return?
Image by César Couto
1.
Research
  • Competitor analysis
  • User Interviews
2.
Define
  • My solution
  • Feature wishlist
  • Task flow/user flow
3.
Design
  • Sketches & wireframes
  • Brand logo
  • Style tile
  • Ui designs
4.
Test
  • Usability tests
  • Affinity map
1.
Research
 
Research Goals
  1. Understand how many of my interview participants have unwanted items lying around the house and discover if/how they intend to get rid of these items

  2. Identify the greatest frustrations users have when shopping for a gift for another person

  3. Consider how Nifty Gifty might be able to stand out from the other e-commerce marketplace apps

Competitor Analysis
I approached friends and family members as well as Slack communities to find out if there are any particular apps they use to list these items.

The most frequenly mentioned were 
eBay, Gumtree and Shpock. Considering the time constraints of this project therefore, I decided to focus my efforts on these apps.

Regarding the buying and selling process, I noted that whilst all 3 apps had auto-fill search functions,
eBay's auto-fill search function was the most effective, coming up with lightning-fast and intuitive suggestions to the terms I entered.

I also noted that Shpock didn't have an onboarding process – something I thought was strange considering I was a brand-new user. My initial confusion here led me to believe that effective onboarding would have given me a greater context into what this app actually does and what I could expect from it.
Interviews
Following my competitor analysis, I began drafting a script for my user interviews. This deliverable has in the past been arguably the most beneficial in the entire design process and the insights gained here framed the direction of the rest of the project.

I decided to focus on 20-40 year-olds who have purchased/received gifts in the last 6 months and have some experience of using second-hand marketplace apps.

My plan was to lead in with general gift-giving questions before zoning in on their personal experiences and asking follow-up questions to gain a clear picture of their goals and frustrations when using marketplace apps.
Key findings
Goals
Needs
Frustrations
Motivations
2.
Define
 
My Solution
Having synthesised my research findings, I noted the following:
  • Competitor Analysis – eBay, Gumtree & Shpock are all focused on the buying and selling processes. There wasn't a clear USP that really defined any of them 
  • User Interviews – Unwanted items don't just come from the gift-giving process. They also come from my users accruing general clutter over the years that they now have no use for
  • User Interviews – Users were keen to avoid the laborious process of mailing the item they had sold
From the beginning of this project, I was conscious of the need to identify a USP to differentiate Nifty Gifty from the competition.
 
I realised then that if Nifty Gifty could incorporate an exchange-of-items feature in addition to the buy/sell feature, and if they could bypass the mailing process by allowing users to exchange items in person, this unusual idea could meet my user needs and create a clear USP.
Feature Wishlist
Reviewing the findings from my competitor analysis and user interviews, I began noting down the key features that Nifty Gifty would need, ordering in order of importance from Must-have (P1) to Surprising and delightful (P3).
Task Flow/User Flow
Having prioritised my app's core features, I decided to next focus on a task flow. But which task to focus on?

Well, a USP of Nifty Gifty mentioned in 'my solution' is the process of exchanging goods. With my competitor analysis having confirmed my assumption of this being a highly unusual concept, I figured there'd be no better task to focus on in this deliverable than the exchanging process.

Identifying any frustrations the user might encounter would allow me to design a solution that I could then test amongst my usability test participants.
3.
Design
 
Sketches & Wireframes
Having researched the problem and identified a solution, I reviewed my screenshots from my competitor analysis and thought about which elements I found most useful when testing their apps. I also browsed Dribbble and Behance for inspiration.

I took inspiration from Gumtree's login screen,
adding a heading and copy below the logo to remind the user as to why they downloaded the app and what they could expect to accomplish on Nifty Gifty.

I had also noted that
visual tiles through e-commerce apps, particularly on homepages with carousel wheels was a common and effective design pattern, showing the user a snippet of the following product. Not wanting to reinvent the wheel therefore, I incorporated this design patterns into my sketches.
At times, I had trouble hitting the right button when navigating through Gumtree. So, to ensure usability and to communicate a modern design for the 20-40 year-old market, I made the buttons chunkier and increased their radius/curvature throughout my wireframes.

Garnering feedback on my sketches,
I received positive feedback on my tiles, so I placed these tiles in varying sizes throughout my wireframes.

I also
loved the simplicity of Shpock's homepage with their buy/sell tab and the ease of being able to navigate to either function without having to open the sidebar, so I incorporated this into my homepage design.

To speed up the wireframing process, I used a useful kit provided by Figma's community members.
Login
Listed item
Onboarding
Listing an item
Homepage
Instant chat
Brand Logo & Style Tile
Logo
 
From the outset, I'd had an idea in mind of using a classic-looking serif font with artistic swirls and that had an almost handwritten appearance. So I settled on Lobster.
 
Typeface
 
With my 20-40 year-old market in mind, I was very keen to find a modern-looking typeface that would resonate with this age group.

I looked to different major brands for inspiration before settling on Apple's beautiful SF Pro Display due to its 
readability with a variety of font weights.
 
Colour Palette
 
I believed that an effective use of bold and saturated colours would help Nifty Gifty to visually stand out.

However, I didn't want to overwhelm the user with too many bright colours, so I opted for
midnight as my primary colour against a neutral smoke background and with a pink/red punch as my accent colour.

I had several other tertiary colours but used them very rarely.
UI Designs
Having garnered feedback on my wireframes, I began placing elements of my colour palette throughout my designs, using drop shadow to help my buttons and dropdown menus stand out on white backgrounds.  

Referring back to my 'How might we' statement, I brainstormed this question again and came up with an extension of my initial in-person exchange idea.

I call this 
'safe swap locations' – public places in London such as cafes and libraries where users could agree to meet and exchange their items (see 'Propose a trade 2' below). The issue of personal safety is one that had been highlighted to me in a previous case study, so I felt like it couldn't be overlooked.  
Login
Confirmed listing
Onboarding
Create wishlist
Home screen
Propose a trade
Listing an item
Propose a trade 2
4.
Test
 
Preparing the Prototype
With the UI screens completed, I was keen to discover how participants would behave when coming across an app they had never used before and one that offers a novel feaure like proposing an exchange of goods.
Test Objectives
  1. List an item available for sale/exchange
  2. Propose a trade with another user
 
Methodology

I interviewed 4 participants via moderated usability testing and had them undertake the above whilst sharing and recording their screens.
Test results
Participants:
  • 4
  • Ages 23-32
  • All have either given or received a gift in the last 6 months
Outcome (listing an item):
  • 100% completion rate
  • 100% error-free rate
Outcome (proposing a trade):
  • 75% completion rate
  • 75% error-free rate
Pros
Cons
Affinity Map
Whilst listening back to my participants' usability tests, I noted down their observations in an affinity map.

I then used this to prioritise my final iterations, and sticky notes that I placed on top of each other meant that more than one participant had made the same observation.

I include a snapshot of my findings below as well as a link to the entire map.
 
Conclusions
Designing a second-hand marketplace app was a very broad challenge. There were certainly times when I questioned the validity of the task I had set myself. However, conversations during the usability testing confirmed that whilst the exchange feature is an unusual one, many found it highly interesting and participants enjoyed seeing the direction I had taken the app in. One even mentioned how she wished an app like Nifty Gifty was around during her college days!

I did make some mistakes, such as not considering creating a site map to catalogue the app's features and not leaving as much time as I would have liked for the UI screens.

However, findings from a previous case study on Hinge showed how serious the issue of safety amongst users is (particularly women) when using social/e-commerce apps. Had I not had this insight from my previous case study, I might never have thought to implement 'safe swap' locations throughout London to help Nifty Gifty's users feel safe.


On a personal note, the fact that I selected a project in an industry that is a personal interest means that I wasn't discouraged even when obstacles were encountered.
 
Next Steps
I was really intrigued when a usability test participant mentioned that she thought this app would be a good idea for college students.

With this potential target market, I'd want to create a more in-depth prototype with further screens to document the exchange process before a second round of usability testing, namely with the college student market.

If this research and testing were a success, perhaps this could open up a unique market for Nifty Gifty.
Any questions? Fancy working together? Hit the button and let's chat.