Settle Service & UX Design
The things in our lives holds a lot of meaning. Through them, we construct an identity, a lifestyle. When going through a transition between phases of our lives, we experience significant emotional upheaval as we acquire and shed a large amount of stuff. We found that exiting online marketplaces for used stuff treat valued items as mere commodities.
Settle is an online marketplace that tries to relieve the mental and emotional stresses of major life-phase transitions by providing support to both the buyer and selling for exchanging items as customised sets that tell a story.
Team: Hannah Rosenfeld, Lisa Otto, Chris Feng
Contributions: Design research, wireframing and prototyping, visual design, service blueprinting
Advisor: Molly Steenson
Defining the Problem Space
In our research we found that people face the most challenges when buying and selling items around significant changes in their life, for example having a baby.
We found that there seems to be a gap between what buyers and sellers need and want during these times. Existing services are geared to fulfill the needs of either the buyer or the seller. But not both. For example, sellers have to hack existing marketplaces to upload multiple items.
Life transitions are often periods of great stress and upheaval. And the complex process of buying and selling used goods adds to this stress.
We set out to create a service that would meet the needs of both buyers and sellers during life transitions.
Daniel, veteran father of two
- Kids no longer use a lot of their stuff, so would like to clear it out to make room for a gym
- overwhelmed by the complexity of the process
- doesn’t want to spend time clicking and uploading photos or fielding emails from several different posts
Sophie, a first time expecting mother
- Overwhelmed by baby prep
- Has searched extensively through secondhand marketplaces but only found a few items from different people
- Isn’t able to arrange for transport of large items
Settle facilitates the exchange of used goods during life transitions by streamlining sale for sellers and providing context for buyers
As a busy father of two children, Daniel doesn’t have time to create an individual listing for everything he needs to sell. Settle’s ability to streamline upload and manage listings are some of its key benefits for him.
A first-time expecting mother, Sophie is looking to buy second-hand goods, but doesn’t know exactly what she’ll need. With Settle, she can see how experienced parents use the items she’s seen advertised and then pick what will work best for her.
Settle recognizes that during life transitions, time is at a premium. Initially, we had hoped that building a connection between parties would incentivize use, but it became clear that the stress of the situation would be prohibitive to building relationships for most people. Instead, Settle supports in-app negotiation and free delivery (for a minimum sale price) to alleviate the hassle of multiple meet-ups.
In addition to developing key screens, we also developed a service blueprint that laid out the elements that would be involved in the service, including possible areas of growth from the initial proposal such as:
- Customizing orders from multiple sellers
- Partnerships with existing delivery services
- Facilitating community engagement through FAQs
- Building social connection between people at similar life phases
This project started as an exploration into alternatives to furniture disposal. To get a better grasp of the problem space, we visited local initiatives that, and interviewed four people who had recently gone through the downsizing process. Our conversations revealed that small, sentimental items proved most difficult to part with, rather than the large pieces of furniture as we had imagined.
People did not tend to mention logistics as a problem, but rather found parting with emotionally valuable items to be the hardest part.
We developed a series of provocations that captured key elements of our service such as geolocation for furniture items, couples therapy for moving, and a realtor acting as an organizer. We used these provocations in speed dating exercises, which we conducted with established homeowners with older children.
From there, we narrowed down on two significant life transitions to test with— having a child, and college seniors graduating and moving to a new city.
We then conducted a generative service-building workshop with these participants to identify the features they cared about most.
Though we wanted to push connection, we learned that convenience was more important. Once we made the features around convenience more concrete, it became clear that, for this user group, streamlining logistics was critical.
To better understand the service ecosystem around the exchange of second-hand goods, as well as to understand where our solution fit within this ecosystem, we mapped the relationships (both direct and indirect) involved in the service.
Prototyping and Evaluation
We then used InVision prototypes to test usefulness, rather than usability, of features. These prototypes served as conversation starters with two parents with young children, and revealed thata public FAQ might be helpful in creating a community around the sharing of information.