I completed this project as a part of my courses for the Google UX Design certificate program.
Product: Thrifter is a shopping app that allows users to generate a list of item characteristics that Thrifter then uses to scour the internet for items with matching characteristics. Once a specified number of items are found, Thrifter notifies the user of all purchasing details.
Project Duration: January 2022 - March 2022
The Problem: Users are spending too much time searching through thrift stores and websites and not finding what they want.
The Goal: Thrifter will notify users of requested items to reduce unnecessary searching while maintaining the thrift store culture of unique, vintage, and rare finds with low prices.
My Role: Lead UX Designer, UX Researcher
Responsibilities: Conducted interviews, created paper and digital wireframes, designed low and high fidelity prototypes, conducted usability studies and iterated on designs.
Tools Used: Figma, pen and paper
I conducted interviews over the phone with intentions of learning what draws people to thrift stores, why people use shopping apps, and what challenges there are with shopping at thrift stores and using shopping apps. I interviewed four people in my network with diverse backgrounds and age ranges to help me answer some of these questions.
A primary user group identified was young professionals who don’t want to spend time browsing through thrift stores but still want to find those unique, vintage pieces that thrift stores are known for.
The user group confirmed initial assumptions about thrift store shoppers who want good deals, unique finds but don’t have time to spend browsing for those special finds. Research also revealed that being notified of certain product arrivals would limit the amount of browsing needed.
User Pain Points
Once the interviews had been conducted, I created four pain points that I wanted to focus on and felt addressed the main issues that users felt while using other shopping apps and while shopping in thrift stores.
"A lot of the back buttons are terrible, going back home instead of to the previous page, I get annoyed and frustrated. Every time it happens I just stop using the app, that's why I don't use shopping apps much."
"Thrift shopping you have to go in with an open mind, you don't know what they will have, you may be looking for something specific and not find it, expected to be grossed out, you don't go to goodwill and not expect to wish your hands after."
I then analyzed and synthesized all the information from the interviews, which I used to developed two personas that I felt encapsulated the general users goals and frustrations with using shopping apps and shopping at thrift stores.
After learning from the interviews, discovering pain points and creating personas I was ready to conduct a competitive audit and see how the competition addresses user pain points. I looked at three companies: two of the companies are direct competitors, Depop and Vinted, the third company, Flyp, is an indirect competitor. I gained valuable insight into, not only these companies business models and strategies, but I took notes of their app layouts, navigation, features, and user offerings. Please click on the link to see the analysis of each.
Pen and Paper Sketches
The first part of the low fidelity design process was drafting paper wireframes which allowed for multiple iterations and to ensure the digital wireframe would properly address user pain points. For the home screen, I wanted the users to be able to create a list of wanted items quickly but also giving the user options to browse or discover what’s new.
Stars were used to indicate which elements I wanted to incorporate into digital wireframes.
With the initial designs, I tried to incorporate the findings and feedback from user research, as well as, noted what competing apps do well and could improve upon to create an enticing app experience. Easy navigation with logical user flow was a pain point for users that I tried to address by adding consistent navigation buttons throughout the app.
The Low-Fidelity prototype can be enjoyed here.
Once the low-fidelity prototype type was completed, it was time to test the prototype with real users which led me to conduct two rounds of semi-moderated usability studies. Each usability study was completed over the phone, while participants completed the tasks on their respective computers or phones. Overall the participants found the app easy to use, navigate, and complete the assigned tasks. Findings from the first round helped guide the designs from wireframes to mockups. The second study used a high-fidelity prototype which revealed further insights into the overall app experience.
Affinity Board from the first round of usability studies
The first round of usability studies provided many helpful insights and valuable feedback. A main insight and theme from the first usability study was the “create” button was hard to find and ambiguous. I added a new intuitive button to the top of the homepage as well one on the bottom navigation bar.
The “Submit” button on the Edit page was found to be confusing and users wanted a way to know which list they were editing.
I changed “Submit” to “Finished Editing” and added a subtle red dot to denote the current list being edited.
The final Thrifter High-fidelity prototype provides users with an intuitive, fun to use app that adds a unique take on the traditional shopping app.
The High-Fidelity prototype can be enjoyed here.
Connection nodes for High-fidelity prototype
What I learned
Participants were excited by the idea of Thrifter, once a list of characteristics was created, Thrifter would search the web for items matching the listed characteristics. "Good concept, if it goes out and searches. I like to buy obscure items and this is a good way to find them."
I learned an incredible amount about the design process and enjoyed stepping into the life of a designer. The process of sketching ideas on pen and paper, to creating wireframes, to low-fidelity prototypes, to mockups and finally high-fidelity prototypes was extremely valuable in teaching me the importance of just materializing ideas on paper. Once I had those first couple sketches on paper, it felt so much easier to create more sketches and generate excitement towards the project.
Next steps for this project would be to continue the iteration process to better communicate the purpose of the app through the app layout. Adding design subtleties to the app would further refine the aesthetic of the app. Usability study participants still showed some initial signs of confusion about what they are supposed to do when first navigating the app. Adding a guide through the app for first time users would help mitigate user confusion.
Conducting more interviews and usability studies would help clarify where confusion was coming from and to narrow in on the overall focus.
If this project peaked your interest and you want to learn more, or just chat, feel free to contact me.