Designing an end-to-end second-hand marketplace app
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.
Designing an end-to-end application
2 weeks / 80 hours
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?
Task flow/user flow
Sketches & wireframes
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
Identify the greatest frustrations users have when shopping for a gift for another person
Consider how Nifty Gifty might be able to stand out from the other e-commerce marketplace apps
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Listing an item
Brand Logo & Style Tile
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.
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.
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.
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.
Propose a trade
Listing an item
Propose a trade 2
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.
List an item available for sale/exchange
Propose a trade with another user
I interviewed 4 participants via moderated usability testing and had them undertake the above whilst sharing and recording their screens.
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