Aunti: Your Thrift Store Companion

UX Design Sprint
Project Overview
Shopping at thrift stores and antiques stores can be confusing, particularly in the way things are priced. How do you know you're getting the best price? Aunti is there for you by bringing together price history from the web and other Aunti users so you can know when you're getting a deal.

This was a great challenge, and I was excited to have the opportunity to apply much more user research and testing with this project than other projects in the past. Even the breifest testing at every step saved me from wasting my time I was able to stay on scope and deliver a minimum viable product that users enjoyed. I was able to experiment with some simple animations to add user delight and was excited to make a product to solve a problem that I personally have.
Roles + Responsiblities
Roles: UX Design, UI Design, UX Research
Tools Used: Figma, Adobe Xd, Illustrator, Usability Hub, Zoom
Deliverables: Target Audience Report, User Personas, User Flows, Sketches, Wireframes, Paper Prototype, Clickable Prototype, User Testing Summary, Summary of Findings
Jump to Section:
Problem/SolutionResearch/Discovery
Information Architecture
Branding
User Testing
Next Steps
Clickable Protoype
5 iphone screens showing the different pages of an application.
Problem: Second hand shopping can be confusing, especially pricing. Some items have no price, others have prices that seem almost random (and at a lot of thrift stores, they are.) How can we get shoppers the information they need to make smart decisions?
Solution: Aunti (think aunti-ques) is an app that lets a user look up the price of an item at a second hand store and get a range of prices that item typically sells for. With Aunti a user can look up the price of an item with text or camera based visual search based on the Google Vision API(great for an item that you may not know the name of) and receive prices from online reselling platforms (eBay, Etsy, etc) as well as user reported prices.
Problem + Solution
Apr 2015 — Mar 2016
Apr 2015 — Mar 2016

Part 1: Research & Discovery

User Survey:

After the competitive analysis, I ran a user survey for 3 days and was able to find 59 participants. The survey was a Google form I shared in various secondhand shopping groups on social media. The screener questions were simple, participants just needed to be over 18 and have shopped second hand at least once in the past year

Research Highlights:

23%

Shop at thrift/antique stores weekly

48%

Beleive items are overpriced

73%

Shop second-hand to save money

User Interviews:

I had the opportunity to interview five of the survey participants and we met via Zoom for 30-45 minute sessions. We discussed shopping habits and preferences, technical preferences, and the information they need to feel comfortable about making a purchase. Some highlights from my discussions:

Competitive Analysis

Results from the user survey and interviews as well as market research allowed me to determine our three main competitors. Studying these other apps would allow me to gain insight into the user’s mental model of a transit app as well as see which features we should emulate, as well as those which were missing.

Screen Shop

Logo for the mobile app Screen Shop. It is 3 hollow circles on a dark background.
Strengths:

Camera search technology
Users can also upload photos/screenshots
Quick/optional onboarding
Wide range of search results
High success rate for finding similar items in both types of search
Gives user choice in which type of search option to pursue

Weaknesses:

Clothing only
App crashes often
Unrelated sponsored content in search results
UI so minimal that it looks like something may not have loaded correctly

Depop

The Depop app logo. It is a lowercase d on a bright red background.
Strengths:

Designed for use with one hand
Robust social aspects
Customizable to user’s interests
Groups similar images into collections/types for easier browsing
AI suggested items based on search/browsing history

Weaknesses:

UI seems small at times, cluttered, and possibly inaccessible
Lengthy account creation process
Disorienting videos on splash screen that clash with colors of buttons and hinder accessiblity

Mercari

The logo for the mobile app Mercari. It is an upper case M on a blue background.
Strengths:

Users can list more than clothes
Massive user base
Money back guarantee on purchases
Fast check-out flow
Personalized recommendations
History/likes readily accessible
AI driven suggestions

Weaknesses:

Global as opposed to local
Small images/cramped UI
No way to compare prices
Search feed shows unavailable/sold items, especially in sorted searches
Lenghty onboarding process before you can even search for items
Many notifications after creating an account

User Personas

After my user survey and interviews, I funneled that information into these user personas, representing the target audience

An image for the user persona deliverable. Tim is a man with dark hair and a slight grin.

Tim

42 year old decorator
Motivations:

Daniel is a designer that loves using vintage pieces in his interiors for his clients. This expertise gives him an edge and helps him stand out from other designers who have to rely on contemporary items. He is also an avid collector of antiques and records.

Goals:

Find/rescue unique items.

Frustrations

Sometimes sellers think items are more valuable than they are because they have no experience with them.

An image for a user persona. This is an image of Natasha, a smiling nonbinary black person with earrings.

Natasha

23 year old student
Motivations:

Natasha is an art student who shops second-hand not just to protect their budget, but also to find interesting materials for their art projects. Thrifting lets them find materials that would be too expensive new, and helps their work stand out.

Goals:

Get what they need under budget.

Frustrations:

Hard to tell if something is a deal.


This is an image for a user persona. Dana is a smiling white woman with dark curly hair.

Dana

33 year old event organizer
Motivations:

Dana is a busy mother who loves her family. They are often doing DIY projects together and love to garden and cook organic foods. Dana loves to second-hand shop to reduce waste and fit in with her family’s green lifestyle.

Goals:

Get as close to a zero waste household as possible.

Frustrations:

Sometimes Dana has to go to several stores to find an item she needs.

Part 2: Information Architecture

User Stories

In order to stay within the scope of the MVP, I generated these User Stories, which prioritize important features for the app that align with the users' goals.

Chart of an app user's important tasks to complete

User Flows

A user flow begins the process of converting our research into actionable screens. I separated these flows into specific actions that users would undertake to reach their goals.

A diagram showing a user flow for a mobile app.A diagram showing a user flow for a mobile app.

Sketches/Paper Prototype

I created some rough sketches based on the user flow diagram which allowed me to test the flow and experiment with some basic layout choices. Using this template was perfect for keeping my sketches in proportion and also allowed me to make a rough paper prototype for a basic usability test before I even digitized the wireframes.

Rough sketches of the layout of a mobile app

Wireframes

Sketches were used inform the creation of wireframes in Figma. These wireframes serve as the foundation for the future UI and allowed me to conduct some user testing on key features early on, which saved me a lot of work in future iterations.

The onboarding that was a part of the wireframes was moved into a new flow that made it a function of wanting to save an item or add an item to the database. User testing indicated that users wanted to be able to see exactly what this app could do for them without having to go through a sign up process. Once the app was able to help the user, that trust would encourage them to sign up and contribute.

The loading screen for an app.A log in screen for an app.The home page for an app.The camera interface on a mobile application.The search results page of an app.Search results page for a mobile app.Page on an app for adding an item to a database.Page on an app for adding an item to a database.Page on an app for adding an item to a database.

Part 3: Branding

I envisioned the app being as legible and accessible as possible, aiming for a very clean interface that would allow the constantly shifting data to shine through, especially in the chaos of the thrift store.

Mood Board:

I created a moodboard based on the environment of secondhand shops coupled with ideas of reuse and sustainability. Primary colors with darker tints give the app a vintage but friendly feel. These colors were cross checked against WEBAIM color standards for accessibility.

A mood board. There are several images in a grid of people at antiques stores as well as some images of clocks, organized clothes, and people working on a lamp.

Color, Type, & Logo

I ran preference testing for two moodboards with participants from my survey and they overwhelmingly chose the style tile below.

This is a style tile. It is showing how the app will look, with color swatches, typography samples, and icons and buttons.

Since the UI features so much rich photographic content, I went with a simple text based logo featuring a fun, vintage inspired font that is bold enough to stand out without distracting from the content.

For the loading screens I created a simple animation based on some of my illustrations of items research participants mentioned searching for.

Loading animation for an app. There are illustrations and the text Aunti, the name of the app.Loading animation for an app. There are illustrations and the text Aunti, the name of the app.Loading animation for an app. There are illustrations and the text Aunti, the name of the app.Loading animation for an app. There are illustrations and the text Aunti, the name of the app.
Illustration of a cameo pinIllustration of a pig shaped cookie jar Illustration of a record playerIllustration of an enameled cast iron pot.Illustration of a teapotIllustration of roller skatesIllustration of a ball cap with a smily face on it.Illustration of a cowboy boot with spurs.Illustration of an arm chairIllustration of a purse with fruit on it.Illustration of a pair of high heeled shoes.Illustration of a lamp shaped like a poodleIllustration of a champagne coupeIllustration of a blenderIllustration of a bundt cake panIllustration of a Polaroid cameraIllustration of a pepper grinder Illustration of some corningware

Part 4: User Testing + MVP

Image of 3 phones with screens from the app Aunti
Cllickable Prototype

User Testing

User testing was done via Zoom and with Xd'x prototyping feature. I was most interested in ensuring users could easily complete the following tasks:

Overall my test subjects were able to complete these tasks due to familiarty with similar products, but other aspects of the prototype needed to be addressed.

Search Features & Navigation

The initial search bar combined the text and visual search functions into one element, reminiscent of the Google search bar. With these features separated, not only was the UI on the homepage cleaner, but users were able to see that they had two search options. 

Testing also alerted me to change the way the footer navigation worked on scrolling pages. Before it was at the bottom of the screen at the end of the scroll. For ease of navigation, it was made sticky at the bottom of the screen independent of the scrolling, which was particularly successful in the search results pages.

Before view of a homepage

Working Prototype

This prototype is an embedded Xd file and is clickable. This is the same version used for user testing.

Part 5: Takeaways & Next Steps

Loading screen of an app on an iphone on a blue background

What I learned:

This was a great challenge, and I was excited to have the opportunity to apply much more user research and testing with this project than other projects in the past. Even the breifest testing at every step saved me from wasting my time I was able to stay on scope and deliver a minimum viable product that users enjoyed. I was able to experiment with some simple animations to add user delight and was excited to make a product to solve a problem that I personally have.

I also learned I had a bit of trouble applying the color schemes from my mood board into the final product. Negotiating between the mood board and style tile which are static, and the UI of this app which will feature so many random images was very challenging. Lucky for me that design is such an iterative process.

Next Steps:

For the next version of this app, I would want to readjust some of the color scheme as well as perform some A/B testing to test for more than just functionality. In future iterations I want to do more research on ALT text best practices and other ways to make the app as accessible as possible.

See Next Project
Buster: A Bus Tracking App for the City of Detroit

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