Neighborly gave users a quick and easy way to connect with one’s immediate neighbors and giveaway unneeded items – a trusted platform that supported localized giveaways.
As the design co-founder I worked with the CEO/Co-founder of Neighborly to define product and design strategy.
Free cycle was a closed system and people who wanted to give items away could not easily gain access. People were less trusting of craigslist, and there was no sense of community.
We learnt through customer interviews and developing deep customer empathy that people cared about where the items they gave away went or how they were being treated. People also wanted to support their neighborhoods, and finding a new home for unneeded items was one way of supporting the community they lived in.
RESEARCH AND DESIGN PROCESS
Led co-creation sessions via brainstorming and sketching with the co-founder in an iterative manner to arrive at a thorough understanding of product functionality and then created user stories to dive deeper into the design process.
Analyzed competitor feature set – to review best practices for chat, private messages, emails and the flow for listing items - Next Door, Craigslist, Facebook Groups. Also reviewed airbnb, eBay, zillow for listing and transaction flows.
Item listing – We went through several iterations to create an optimal item listing screen, as it was important that the experience be quick.
Rating and reviews – Giving users the ability to rate and review was an important feature we iterated rapidly on to create a simple feedback process, but one that built confidence and trust in the community.
Key learnings from research
- We were unsure if users would select their neighborhood during sign-up due to privacy concerns, but learned that users were not hesitant to pick their neighborhood
- Most users were comfortable with the idea of someone coming to their house to pick up an item. Some said they would meet at a neutral location.
- Due to privacy concerns we tested in-app chat as a feature that could be unlocked only once the person giving away the item gave permission. Testing proved this wasn’t necessary. Both parties were fine with instant in-app chat if there was interest for an item.
- Users said the app was easy to use. One user said that it felt like Christmas as she received items for free.
Overall learnings – Follow build-meaure-learn loop (The Lean Startup book), resist the temptation to build out features, contemplated introducing pricing for items but given that we were attempting to build out a system more robust and open than free cycle, we didn't move in that direction.