We partnered up with SpaceiShare (SiS), a relatively new online peer-to-peer marketplace matching those who have extra space with those who need space for storage, parking, or events. The platform currently is only through their website, and my team and I designed a mobile app for them.
Through secondary research, we found that the self-storage industry is booming and continues to grow, and so is a general acceptance of the sharing economy as an alternative to common services. Despite this, a lot of people are still hesitant to use a service like SiS because they don’t feel safe or trust their belongings with strangers. The design solution was focused around how to build trust through proxy of building a strong community with an app in order to grow the platform—because a sharing economy only works with members in it. We were inspired by other popular sharing economy platforms like AirBnB, Uber, and Couchsurfing. In the end, we had a mobile app that not only improves on SiS’s current weaknesses, but builds in trust/community through more social network integration (reviews, references, mutual friends), friendly language, easier communication and payment amongst members.
Role: I was the team contact with the client. I researched the landscape of the self-storage industry and the sharing economy; designed and implemented an online survey, conducted informal interviews, persona development, site mapping, lo- and mid-fi wireframing (Sketch), prototyping (InVision) usability testing, and report writing.
Timeline: 3 weeks
Team: 4 UX Designers + 1 UI Designer
Deliverable: High-fidelity clickable prototype for mobile app
We approached the app in two ways:
1) addressing the current platform’s strengths and weaknesses by surveying their current customers;
2) looking at it as its own product by conducting a general survey/market research.
We found through the research that despite the a boom in demand for commercial rental spaces and more mainstream acceptance of the sharing economy, there is still great hesitation for people to trust their belongings with strangers. In our survey, while over 80% thought SiS offers a useful service, over half were “very unlikely” or “unlikely” to use SiS themselves. Respondents cited feeling uneasy and uncomfortable with leaving their belongings in a stranger’s home.
So, how can we grow this space-sharing platform via the app if people are hesitant to use it?!
While we initially looked at things like third-party ID verification, or increasing insurance coverage, these things are not only costly and unrealistic for a young company, but the design solution should be one that can stand on its own.
We had to dig deeper into what made sharing economy platforms like AirBnB, UBER, or Couchsurfing successful, and we found that it wasn’t so much about building trust amongst users, because, let’s face it, it’s natural for us to not trust those we don’t know (Darwinism?). An app ultimately wouldn’t be able to make people trust each other. However, we pivoted it around something we can control and that is building trust towards SiS as a brand and platform. When you use AirBnB, it’s not that you necessarily trust “Bob in Chicago” — but you trust AirBnB as a trustworthy platform.
We looked at various other sharing economies, marketplaces, and other reputable apps and looked at what made people trust certain platforms: by establishing trust towards the brand and therefore its members, by proxy of being a part of their community.
We took inspiration from the above and other apps to look at how they built community and established trust and security.
With these features, we built them into our app. Below are some of my lo-fi sketches, and its progress to mid- and then hi-fi.
Onboarding/Member Profile screens:
- more user-friendly by splitting the screens up more
- adding pagination so it’s clear where someone is at in the process
- adding in phone and e-mail verification so there’s accountability
- social media integration so it’s easy for signup
- social media integration also shows mutual friends, reviews, references for members
- having more personal profiles where (face) photos are mandatory, and a more complete profile including how long one’s been a part of SiS, why they’re there, and a bit more about them
We created a MVP product that fosters trust by building community amongst members and of SpaceiShare as a brand. We did this through various features including social network integration (i.e., Facebook), a references and review feature, more friendly language and imagery, proxy identity verification, and a more streamlined communication and payment process. The intention is for a space sharing platform that is pleasant, comfortable, and easy to use.
Our clients were really pleased with the result and felt that we also did a great job in capturing their personalities (existing customers praise them for their excellent customer service and how approachable they are)!
Click on image below to see the clickable hi-fi prototype.
This is what Karen Wang, Co-Founder and COO of SpaceiShare said:
I had the pleasure of working with Vivian while she was at Red Academy. Vivian and her team were in charge of building an app prototype for my business and I was super impressed with the results! I enjoyed working with Vivian because she was communicative, organized and extremely committed to the project. Vivian is smart, hardworking, curious and very personable…an ideal person to have on a team. Vivian is definitely someone I will hire for future projects.