Estamos a Bazar
Online Garage Sale
In order to be able to quickly and efficiently dispose of the contents of our house (furniture and appliances) I created a simple website to display all the items and sell them to local people, leveraging the power of social networks.
Visual and Interaction Design, Photography, Copy and Development
Although moving is an exciting moment in life, it can also become a headache and a source of anxiety. Moving to another continent can make this process even more stressful: you have to deal with the logistics of traveling, finding a new home and try to figure out what to do with your current belongings. In 2013 me my wife and our 9 months old son were moving to the US and we had no idea what to do with our furniture, appliances. So we decided we needed to find a way to give them away or sell them.
I shared our “dilemma” with some friends and the majority suggested that we put them on sale on classified lists. There was no Craigslist in Portugal at the time and Ebay was just too complicated because we needed to ship things to addresses and we were not in a place that we could afford sending couches and furniture to people across the country. The prices were symbolic and shipping costs would 90% of the time be higher than the actual price of the item. We soon realized that none of those solutions would be optimal.
We needed a way to centralize all the content, attract people in and provide a simple but yet fun buying experience.
After weighing in on different alternatives it became clear that we needed to create our own solution. We could craft a beautifully designed email, but it would be hard to track. So I thought we could create a simple website, with a clear message while providing a personalized buying experience:
- We advertise through social media and word-of-mouth
- People access the website
- Tell us they’re interested in X item
- We reply with time and location for pick-up
- People pick-up the item
By leveraging email, facebook and word-of-mouth we could guarantee visits, then because prices were symbolic we believed that we would get buyers. Bonus points for the fact that portuguese people are generally speaking extremely social which would play an important part on the success of this project.
Here’s how the service map would roughly look like:
Sketches and Wireframes
As always, I started sketching ideas way before we came up with this particular one, but here’s some of them. I wanted the IA and content to be extremely simple and to the point. There would be three main content areas that I corresponded to basic needs:
- The product listing: Should be clear and simple to navigate. Because we didn’t have that many items we didn’t need any categorization or filtering. Just a plain old listing.
- The about page: Obviously we wanted to contextualize the user, give them some background of what this website was about and also give us a chance to tell our story.
- The contact from: A simple form that allowed visitors to connect with us. We knew that we were proposing a somewhat unconventional buying experience and for this we wanted to provide a quick and easy way to answer all possible questions that users could have.
As I said before, I wanted to provide a fun yet painless experience for both ends of the sale. I wanted to create something that felt personal, friendly and approachable.
For that I made heavy use of illustration along with an extremely casual language, sometimes even slang. That would attract young and adventurous people that could potentially relate to our story.
I started researching visual elements that I could use as the glue to this story and so I explored things like moving boxes, boxing tape, and simple geometric illustration.
Color and Typography
I used a simple color palette of grays and a yellow accent color as a reminiscence of the boxing tape.
Simple monochrome illustrations for our family and the items.
I made use of close framed photo compositions and natural light. I used a Canon EOS 60D with 45mm and 18-135mm lenses
For the website I used a very simple 12 column layout. On mobile it changes to a 4 column.
Technically, this project would be easily executed using database and some server-side to read and display the items. On the other hand I also needed an inexpensive way to manage sending emails as people requested items.
I’ve always been somewhat comfortable with PHP so it was an easy technology choice. I also used MySQL fo the database.
At this time I had been exploring rapid prototyping with different front-end frameworks. Both Bootstrap and Foundation were good choices. I ended up using Foundation mainly because that was the one I had been using more frequently (support for CSS SASS) and so it made it easier to get some quick prototypes and then evolve into a final product.
“Estamos a Bazar” was a very good example of using design thinking to solve a particular life challenge. This project had as much of a social experiment as it had of simple, accessible platform with a clear language and interaction workflow. It was a three weeks process that got us the result we pretended.
It actually went way beyond my expectations. It was surprising to realize how people engage in these kinds of initiatives. We got so much engagement that we sold every single item within the first two days. Regardless, we had an amazing experience meeting new people, singles, couples just excited as us about this project; curious to know where we were going on our new adventure.