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OCT 2020 - MAY 2021

Zaar: designing an online thrift store for college students



User Research

Visual Design

Interaction design

UX Design



This is my startup story 😄

6 weeks to to MVP


Zaar is the online thrift store for college students to easily and safely exchange used goods.

The Idea

My co-founder and I came up with the idea for Zaar while seniors at Brown University. While moving into our respective apartments, we were frustrated by the process of trying to buy and sell items from other students on campus. People our age used FB groups or Instagram accounts to list things they were selling. This made it difficult to find what we wanted, because we had to scroll through FB posts and spend a ton of time making pretty Google slides if we wanted to sell something. My role as co-founder was to spearhead the entire product design process, from research to execution. In the end, we were invited to interview for YC's Winter 2020 batch.

We envisioned a platform that made it super easy to buy and sell on campus.

Research 📚


Understanding how current students approached the buying/selling process.


I wanted a thorough understanding of how competing platforms approached the secondhand buying/selling process. Students I interviewed never used Craigslist due to fears of transacting with strangers, rarely used eBay and Facebook marketplace, sometimes used apps like Depop and Poshmark, and mostly used Facebook groups to sell their used items online. Therefore, I focused my competitor analysis on Facebook groups and platforms like Depop and Poshmark. However, students didn't like to pay for shipping on these platforms and complained about the lack of search and filter features within Facebook groups. Depop was by far the most popular non-Facebook secondhand marketplace app. Students felt confident that they could find "cool" items on the app, and they liked how easy it was to scroll through items using Depop's Instagram-esque interface. 

User Interviews 😄


Insights gathered from talking to students

"In a Facebook group, I know who I'm buying from. I would definitely trust students from my college over strangers on Craigslist."

Students value buying and selling with people they trust


Students aged 18-24 - especially female students - feel very uncomfortable transacting online with strangers. Therefore, they rarely if ever use platforms like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace, because these platforms are populated by people they don't know. Students I interviewed gravitated more towards "young" and "cool" apps like Depop for buying and selling, although they didn't like the costs associated with shipping on those types of platforms. Instead, most students made Facebook groups or used Instagram accounts to sell items exclusively within their college community or trusted group of friends. 

"Getting something on Facebook is fast because it's usually local. Picking up things I bought on Facebook is easy because they're nearby."

Ease and efficiency are high priorities for students when buying/selling


Students really like the speed and speed that comes with buying from people who live nearby. Those I interviewed said that they didn't mind walking to pick up an item they had bought online, as long as they had bought it from another student or friend and therefore felt reasonably comfortable going to the seller's house.

"On FB, I couldn't search for a couch. I had to scroll through and open a bunch of Google slides presentations to eventually find a couch, but when I messaged the seller she said it was already sold. It was super annoying."

Facebook is hard to use for buying and selling because it lacks key features


Students I interviewed wanted to search through social media to find what they're looking to buy, but Facebook groups and Instagram don't let users search. Students expressed annoyance at having to scroll endlessly to find a specific thing they were looking for or having to wait for someone to upload the specific thing they wanted.

"Why would I waste a bunch of money on something I'm going to leave behind in a year? I'd rather just get it from someone else."

Students prefer to shop secondhand because it's significantly cheaper.


Students really want to shop secondhand online because they are cost-conscious and highly transitory. Because they usually have to move every year, they either have to pay lots of money to store their things over the summer or find other students who want them. Otherwise, their unwanted items end up in the dumpster.

User Personas ✌️


Developing user personas to more concretely empathize with Zaar's two key user types and pinpoint their goals 

Sitemap 📐


Developing a simple sitemap for the Zaar MVP, so we could build fast and test

Frame 1.png

Wireframes 🖌


Creating a basic wireframe on paper before building a prototype in Figma

Untitled_Artwork 66.png

Final Design ✨

MacBook - 91.png
Final Design
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