Date: Summer 2015
Stakeholder: DePaul University
Focus: Complete UX (Research, Usability, Design, and Guidelines)
Project Duration: 8 weeks

UX End-to-End

My final graduate project gave me the opportunity to conduct an complete UX methodology for a mobile application. Our app concept, Neighborly was designed by myself and two other students. Neighborly took its inspiration from the Buy Nothing Project, a non-profit social group that organizes members into groups, living within a 5 mile radius of each other. Through the organized groups, members give away their used items they no longer want. Through these groups, Buy Nothing promotes reuse and community connectedness.

Neighborly Concept App
Neighborly Concept App

Buy Nothing gives its users a pattern and a set of guidelines to help them organize their neighborhoods into Buy Nothing groups. These groups often organize themselves using Facebook and the groups are heavily monitored and moderated.

Effectively, group members post items, within the group, that they no longer want. Other members ask to be considered for the item and are chosen by the "giver" to receive the item. Once a recipient is chosen, the two members organize a time and place to pick up the item.

As the team lead, I created a comprehensive project plan and scheduled weekly sprints to ensure we met our goals. We actually ended up ahead of schedule, which allowed us to conduct some deeper research within the problem space.

I also lead the visual and interaction design and helped the group by creating UI patterns that were based on Google Material guidelines. This gave us the structure we needed to create a UI framework that was based on established and tested patterns.

Research-Lead Design

Our research broke down into four key areas:

While we didn't get conclusive data that suggested there was an overwhelming need for an app like Neighborly, we did discover some interesting indicators:

Survey results showing that 47% of participants marked Yes, 48% of participants marked No, and 5% of participants marked Not sure
Survey Results from Market Opportunity Research

There were, however some indicators that suggested that respondents did not find value in giving away their used items to neighbors:

This could indicate that potential users do not desire to give their used items to neighbors or that they have already solved this problem by donating their used goods to nonprofits. The case could be made, however, that participants would consider giving items away to neighbors if they had a meaningful way to do so.

Iterative Design

After we had a relatively solid understanding of the Buy Nothing space, we set out to focus on three core interactions: giving and item, requesting and item, and picking up a gift.

I started out by sketching some early concepts, trying to settle on the core interaction patterns. I then reviewed the Google Material guidelines to see their patterns for common interactions. By combining what the users needed with the established Google design patterns, I was able to achieve a workable interaction, that tested well with users, right from the beginning.

From there, each team member focused on their assigned user scenarios and refined them based on user feedback.