Neighbours | Bringing collaboration back to the big city arena
On the path to bid for new projects and collaborations, freelancers can be asked to present their views on different types of challenges as well as their way of approaching them. I often feel these pieces of work end up forgotten in a folder somewhere in the Cloud, so I decided to give them a breath of fresh air.
Having applied to join Toptal, a large network pool of freelancers, I was asked to design an onboarding user flow for a C2C marketplace. The briefing specified the need of introducing users to the benefits of becoming a seller while guiding them through setting up the profile and any added functionalities that could be useful to the personas.
Having a look at companies with similar activities seemed like a good place to start - a “Competitive Research”, as every book on UX Strategy will define. Remember, this was a rough test executed in a short amount of time, but it should look similar to this:
KEY MARKET INSIGHTS
This benchmark analysis gave me a few insights:
- C2C platforms are very much part of our society and there are all sorts of categories, products and services being sold and exchanged online.
- Buyers like to read as much information they can about a product they’re purchasing, but also about the seller. Profiles should give a good overview of people involved on the transaction.
- Most online platforms facilitate the registration process, helping users to set up a profile as quick as possible, so they can start buying or selling straight away.
- Reviews and complaints should always be visible. They have a direct and heavy influence on the final purchase decision.
- Most platforms involve a paid service - full asked price or bids.
- The sharing economy is growing and there could be a market opportunity to exchange services.
So I thought:
- Busy professionals in urban centres lack time to accomplish domestic tasks. People on career transition / unemployed could use a few hours of the day to offer a hand or exchange services.
- Why not bring back the collaboration between neighbours to the big city arena?
- People could use their time more efficiently by doing tasks they’re comfortable with and exchanging it with the ones they can’t bother doing or have no time at all.
It was about time to meet real people to help me understand current behaviours and validate if my assumption could lead me to a latent need and a potential solution. It seemed I could investigate through a broad audience of 18-60 year old, men and women. For the purpose of this project I have selected 5 neighbours living in the southwest area of London who have used C2C platforms to buy and sell products or services. I wanted to find out:
- What do they like / dislike about their experiences on C2C platforms?
- What information they like to see from peers selling a product / service to feel secure?
- How much information do they feel comfortable giving away when selling online?
- Which domestic activities do they like to perform? Which ones they don’t?
- Would they be willing to exchange services with their neighbours?
- Would they pay a neighbour to help them with tasks such as ironing, dog walking, cleaning…?
According to Nielsen Norman Group, “the best results come from testing no more than 5 users and running as many small tests as you can afford.” So, even on my hypothetical project, I should be in a good place to understand and frame my problem statement. Having run quick 1x1 interviews enabled me to identify the following patterns and common pain points:
- People are used to purchase items / services from other peers online and trust platforms like eBay and Amazon.
- They’re comfortable sharing basic contact information, social media profile and location to be trusted by other peers. They seek as many details as possible about the seller and the product they’re purchasing to ensure it’s trustworthy.
- Reviews and complaints are highly valued in this kind of platform.
- Busy professionals value their free time to rest and would be willing to have someone else to perform some of their basic domestic tasks.
- Sharing tasks with neighbours would allow people to use their spare time to do something they’re comfortable with and exchange it by something they’re less likely to do or have no time at all.
- Exchanging tasks with neighbours could add value to a community and create trust among people living in the same area. If you’re not available to wait for a plumber to visit your flat a full afternoon, your neighbour might be able to help.
- Common tasks people would be willing to exchange: dog walking, watering plants, waiting for contractors, babysitting, cooking.
WHO SHOULD WE BE LOOKING AT TO SOLVE THE PROBLEM?
Angela | 27 years old
Waitress and bartender working mostly evening shifts.
“I get home tired after work and rather enjoy some rest than cleaning or looking after my flat.”
Has a different routine from her friends, sleeping during the morning and having a few hours of day time to carry out personal and domestic tasks. Usually her days off are on week days and she likes to practice sports, go shopping or just chill. She wouldn’t mind taking her neighbour’s dog for a walk a few afternoons if she could get a little hand to keep her flat tidy when she’s super busy working on the weekends.
As a professional working varied shifts during weekdays and weekends, I would like to exchange domestic tasks with someone I trust so that I can get a hand with things I can’t bother doing, while offering help with tasks I’m comfortable performing.
What if we could match the needs of a neighbour with the skills and availability of another?
Matt | 35 years old
Paralegal, in a relationship.
“I would definitely pay someone to cook or iron for me. I simply have no time for it and rather spend free time with my girlfriend.”
Wakes up super early every week day and works long hours at a law firm in the City. Has to wear suit to work everyday, which requires hours of ironing to look spotless. During the weekends he likes to relax and don’t really want to bother with domestic tasks. He would be willing to pay a neighbour to iron his shirts for him, instead of having to pay extra and wait for the laundry collection.
As a professional working long hours in London, I would like to have someone nearby to give me a hand with a few domestic tasks so that I can make a better use of my free time.
What if we could connect this busy professional with a neighbour who has a few spare hours to help him out with domestic tasks his unable to complete?
A storyboard is a great way to visualise different moments in time when the personas could be involved with the issue and can lead to innovative solutions. It should serve as a mean to tell a story and communicate an idea, so the form is the less important aspect of it.
PROTOTYPE AND TEST
Based on the learnings and the storyboard above, I have prepared a paper prototype to test a proposed user flow with the users.
These exchanges helped me learn quickly what could work and gave me clues on possible iterations. I have then presented to Toptal a low-fidelity user flow for the mobile app onboarding, with a step-by-step overview of the proposed solution.
Have a play with the Marvel prototype and let me know your thoughts :)