In any house I’m sure you will find, 10, 20, 30 items that haven't been used in the last 5 years, and someone out there could be looking for that very thing you have under that N64 in the back of your wardrobe. Not only could someone be getting use out of these items but you could be getting something back in return…something you actually want.
Sites like eBay and Gumtree have become so massive and convoluted that items you upload are lost in the abyss and just sit there doing the same thing they have been doing in your wardrobe, further more they charge for this luxury, there was time for something new.
We want the users to have their very own market place, a catalog of their unwanted items, with their profile as the shop window and putting items on display is as easy as taking a photo. Then all these “shops windows” come together on a searchable feed for all to trade, give or sell items with each other.
We started with the construction of the brand, to identify the traits that we wanted to associate ourselves with, then using these as consistent pillars to build the app upon (hopefully you are a fan of construction analogies).
We were determined that Paperclip was to be built on trust and reliability, in order to create connections between the people using the app but also to the app/brand itself.
The logo symbol is a play on the 'trade up' or 'add' concept of the app, with a paperclip shape (due to the name) being bent into the shape of a '+'. It’s a strong mark that over time can be used as I stand alone symbol.
The logotype is a unique, customised typeface which gives a bold (reliable, trustworthy) feel with friendliness (from geometric shapes, lowercase letters) and personality (from the slated letter finials), whilst remaining professional/direct/precise (from straight lines produces from the letter stems, ascenders, descenders).
Finally, to achieve consistency, the friendly new logo was partnered with the introduction of brand guidelines, assuring consistent colour, imagery and typography across all channels.
Searching, filtering and categorising items would help the user find what they were looking for, but keeping the strict essentials in mind it was ascertained that Paperclip couldn’t offer delivery of items in the beginning, meaning the users had to meet-up to complete the transaction in person.
This prioritised the need to see how close the items were to the user. ‘Map view’ was born, not only did this solve the problem of knowing how close surrounding items are but also, knowing where the item/user is from, most likely from your own community, builds a connection and the element of trust, in the sometimes scary scenario of meeting up with someone you may never have met before.
Early discussion brought to light the desire to assimilate the feeling for being at a local market, where users can seamlessly trade, give away, or negotiate the best deal for themselves and the seller.
Like any trade scenario, we needed to provide context; who made the offer, when it was made and most important of all what they are offering. Then providing feedback of the user’s actions was crucial, showing them the results, and update them on the progress of their trade.
Other benefits of taking the tech approach, over an actual market, is its ability to “Undo” and “Redo” actions, which would be made highly visible and easy to trigger in the app. This is also to encourage future interactions and exploration.
Now begins the process of converting all of that planning into lo-fi digital versions that will help form the skeleton of the app so it can be prototyped and tested.
The main objective of the design was to maximise the area in which the user gets to interact with the items on display and to make all interactions as easy to understand as possible. To do this we had to constantly ask ourselves if a feature was really necessary. Although painful at times, feature-cutting and creative thinking allowed us to create something truly simple.
Example of the early UX map:
Thoroughly thought out interaction design makes the product understandable and easy to use. But as we have learnt from seeing any child read a book, a visual layer delights and helps keeps us engaged.
Changes evolved from taking a very critical look at what we had already created, together with user feedback.
We were very thoughtful to this stage in the process. Paperclip was meticulously designed with beautiful, easy to understand, and engaging graphics (a little more on this below) that draw people into the app with the intention of making the simplest task rewarding.
The intention was for the app to feel; fast, inviting, and responsive to user input. We wanted the app to feel like a friendly environment, much less intimidating than being in an real-life market place and for users to openly interact and share items with others.
Custom “pixel perfect” icons were created for use throughout the app.
Time and many iterations were given to the construction of the icons. Due to their multifunctional and comprehensive importance to the app (and any other app), they are interactive, clarifying, decorative and entertaining. Additionally, icons successfully combine the functions of navigation, being the aesthetic element of the visual representation of the app, while supporting the general style and having their own character.
The next step involved linking the designs into a prototype - the most effective way to gain meaningful feedback from the team. These click-thru demos, designed to simulate use of the app, were used for internal reviews, with the board of investors, and for invaluable user group testing.
Once everyone (majority) is satisfied, everything is handed over to the development team, where they turn the all planning, sketches, wireframes, designs, prototypes, coffees into the product you download in the app/play store.
Design still stays involved after hand over to carry out QA (Quality Assurance) checks at various milestones just to make sure the designs are being fulfilled to their requirements and to provide final refinements.
The party doesn’t stop there
As Paperclip continued to grow, a new version of the app was required to refine, adapt, improve and introduce new features to streamline the ever-evolving demands and behaviours of users.
During a series of student focus groups and surveys, it quickly became apparent that students only wanted to trade with other students who are in their halls, campus or society.This lead to further in-depth research that found this was in fact a wider issue that stretched beyond students. It was discovered that 38% of people indicated that they were unwilling to try a peer-to-peer marketplace due to the fact that they don’t trust the other users.
Further more, a potential user was 85% more likely to trade with another user if they knew more about them. One of the most proven ways to build trust is by find a shared interest that you have in common with someone else e.g. a hobby, a location, or an institution.
Rather than creating an individual marketplace to cater to each of these interests Paperclip groups were introduced. Paperclip groups enables users to make their own marketplace based upon who they want to trade with. Through groups, users can now trade in confidence with other likeminded people who have a shared common interest, goal, grand parent…
Introducing version 2
The main new features of Paperclip V2 other than a refreshed look, is the introduction of a totally new groups section and a new trade center, for an optimised way to interact with your buying and selling of items. Another key data-driven enhancement was to remove the item price. It’s too early to tell if this has had a positive effect, but this new feature is to encourage more users to make offers and to enable sellers to get a fair price, rather than being constantly low balled.
Thanks for taking a look
I’m afraid this case study is just about over. But if you are still hungry for more, here are a few more for you. I'm kind like that.