Portfolio > TreasureHunter
Date: August 2008 - April 2009
Teammates: Sang Koh, Amy Kuo, Noah Liebman, Andrea McVittie
Awards: 1st place, CHI 2009 Student Design Competition (Read our paper)
1st place Social Computing Award, SI expoSItion poster session
My role: Most group work was done collaboratively; however I did lead the contextual inquiry and usability testing phases, wrote and edited much of our CHI paper, and gave our final presentation at CHI.
The challenge of the CHI 2009 Student Design Competition was to design an object, interface, system, or service that encourages the use of local resources versus global resources, in a sustainable and environmentally efficient manner.
Due to some very illuminating interviews during our initial contextual inquiry, my team decided to focus our project on thrift stores. As we learned, buying items used from thrift stores is one way to keep unwanted goods out of landfills and support the local community. However, thrift stores are still underutilized by large parts of the population. Our goal was to find out why, and if we could address this problem with our design.
Above left: The team, brainstorming. Above right: Checking out the merchandise at local thrift stores.
We began our project by using fieldwork and contextual inquiry to gather data both from employees at thrift stores as well as consumers who shopped there. We collected the notes from all our interviews and created an affinity diagram (see right), which made it clear to us that shopping at thrift stores was challenging and time-consuming for many consumers, because they never knew what they would find. Thus, consumers in need of a specific item would buy it from a store with known inventory instead.
We began brainstorming ways to solve this problem, and continued to iteratively prototype and refine our ideas (see sketch below) as we learned more about our users and their needs through return visits to the Ann Arbor thrift stores. It was then that we realized that the persona of the 'treasure hunter' that we had discovered earlier could help us. 'Treasure hunters' are those who shop at thrift stores often and love the thrill of the hunt. If given proper incentives, then we realized they could be used to help find items for others who lack the time or inclination to hunt for an item themselves.
This realization turned into our final solution: an online community that connects these two user groups: the busy consumers who want to buy used, and the treasure hunters who help them find the items they desire. We created a mobile version of our system so that treasure hunters could look for items and answer requests while at a thrift store.
We created high-fidelity prototypes of our system using Axure for the web interface, and Omnigraffle for the iPhone prototype. We then did usability testing of both interfaces. Testing of the mobile prototype was conducted in situ at a local thrift store. Our results and feedback indicate that we have successfully identified and met an important need for our users, as our users were very enthusiastic about the concept and wish to see it implemented. We hope to one day make this happen!
Click one of the images to go to the prototype itself.
(iPhone prototype is a QuickTime movie of the prototype)