This project is personal to me, because I became a member of the Buy Nothing Project while researching ways to reduce my own carbon footprint.
I knew the basics:
Too many greenhouse gasses = bad, that climate change was caused by greenhouse gas pollution, and that in reality big corporations have the power to make the real change. But I also knew that we participate in a linear economy and a capitalist society that encourages hyper-consumerism, and that companies react to the demand of the people.
Currently, we live in a society that encourages hyper-consumerism, and a linear economy. In this kind of economy we take virgin materials, produce goods from them, consume them, and then discard them causing a lot of waste in our landfills.
However, the Buy Nothing Project encourages a circular economy. In a circular economy, markets are given incentives to reuse products, rather than discarding them and having to extract new resources. This way of life is ultimately what will bring the change we need.
I created a survey that had answers from over 40 survey takers. This survey helped confirm my assumption that my target audience was Generation Z (18-24) and Millennials (25-40). That's not to exclude other generations, however these generations would be most interested in my end product.
Other questions on my survey included how users felt about their status of environmental consciousness, whether they considered themselves budget conscious, and their feelings of community.
Feeling overwhelmed when scrolling through their group and wishing that items were organized.
Wishing the group was educating users on how to become more environmentally conscious.
Users worrying about their safety, and ensuring those they were meeting up with were legit.
Major takeaways from my interviews included:
A User Persona and Empathy Map were created as a result from survey findings and interviews. Major takeaways included that our user didn’t care to be a part of Facebook anymore, and they really wished that other users of the Buy Nothing Project were aware of how big of an environmental impact they were making, and if there was a way for users to care more about the environment.
By creating a Journey Map , it’s clear that the process of becoming a member is overwhelming and confusing, which could deter potential users. This process has a lot of unnecessary steps that could definitely be simplified.
Starting with low fidelity paper prototypes allowed me to thoroughly test and reconsider my user flow while easing the pressure from my users.
Moving on to wireframes and making it interactive made it easier for my users to envision how things will look digitally.
The updated Journey Map shows how the flow to sign up has removed redundancies, and allows the user to jump into the project quickly.
In interviews, I uncovered that several users were concerned about their safety, and wanted to make sure that the people they were meeting up with were trustworthy. This inspired the feature of requiring identity verification to ensure the safety of all users.
Several users mentioned they wish that the content on the Buy Nothing Project was organized better, and wished they had a way to search through items. To help out my users, I created a way to search and filter through items.
I created a visual cue between Gives and Asks by assigning them a specific color. Based on a user suggestion, to reduce redundancies, I implemented a feature that would alert the user when a similar item that they were asking for was already in the feed.
The Profile section shows how your contributions to the Buy Nothing Project make a positive impact on the environment, which was a huge request from my users. This also reinforces the Buy Nothing Project’s mission by including features that show they care about relieving financial stress, creating a sense of community, and allowing users to care for the environment by encouraging a sustainable lifestyle.
Users in interviews mentioned that they felt the sense of community that the current Buy Nothing Project encourages, feels forced. Considering the users, and inspired by a user who offered a free little library on their property, I created a feature that would show how neighbors nearby are contributing to their community.
Adding animations to the final design helps to create a layer of delight and fun for the user, keeping the experience of using the app inviting and exciting.
“You are not your user” holds so much truth. Even though this project started because of my personal qualms with the Buy Nothing Project, so many features and the overall flow of this app came from involving my users from beginning to end, as well as listening to and understanding their struggles and goals with this project.
I would do more research on finding an actual way to track your carbon footprint, and perhaps partner up with another non profit organization that does just that to help make the Buy Nothing Project more legitimate and ease the minds of the users.