Online Community Marketplace


Designing an Online Marketplace

I was brought in as the interaction designer for an online marketplace where users can exchange favors, offer their skills and experience, and request help.

I was responsible for designing a proof of concept and specifications to define the approximate scope and development estimates.

The team included myself, an account manager, and a 3rd party development team.

Goals & Methods Overview

Designing a Complex System

Understand the Client Vision

I needed to understand the client’s vision for the product.

Method: Client Interviews

I interviewed the client and created a “1 pager” containing a product description, ultimate vision, challenges, and revenue options.

Design for the Same People

I needed to make sure the client and my team had the same set of users in mind.

Method: Persona Creation

Through YouTube videos and online articles, as well as interviews with the client, we were able to create a basic understanding of our primary audience.

Ensure Useful & Usable Software

I needed our flows to be useful and patterns to be familiar.

Method: Competition Research, Demos, Internal Testing, Feedback Sessions

I did first hand research on 2 popular web apps that achieve functionally similar results and documented the findings.

Development Handoff

I needed to ensure we produced the information necessary to produce development estimates.

Method: Regular Development Discussion

I worked regularly with the developers to forward updated information, respond to their latest questions, and document the necessary information.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the work

Define & Ideate

Client Interviews

In the initial client interview, we discussed the concept and its origin story.

Origin stories are really important for brand development and culture building, but they can also provide useful cues and insight into the heart of the original problem and intended audience.

After interviewing the client, I produced a “1-pager” and an initial set of user-stories.


Persona Creation

After reviewing the client interview notes, YouTube videos, and articles.


Big Picture Flows

We needed to instantiate the vision into a concrete system that didn’t contain pernicious loopholes.

I started with how Task Rabbit and UpWork executed a few key flows

  • How users registered
  • How users posted jobs
  • How users found jobs
  • How job details were negotiated and finalized

I recorded a video as I performed these, then enumerated and described details of each step.

enumeration of steps and description

Example: Creating Job Posts

I turned the observations into a minimized version that we could use.

Meanwhile, I considered how we might further reduce the work involved in creating tasks. I returned to this particular topic towards the end of the project and created a 3rd option. Essentially, this concept connected a to-do list (the task creation) to a job board.

The details of the project would be hashed out in a stream with a few custom functions for sharing additional details as needed, as well as setting time/date and cost.

competitor flow

System Diagram

Having checked out the flows from competitors, I was able to define some of the system logic in greater depth. I used this to help create the prototype, to make sure I was not omitting critical logic.

I also noted possible issues, database interactions, and user notifications.

system flow diagram

Protyping & Validating

Making Experiences out of Diagrams

From the system flow diagram, I was able to get a sense of the input requirements at each step, and approximate back-end processes that would need to take place.

These informed the core of the functional elements which would appear on a page.

I used this to design the wireframes and prototype that we’d eventually build upon internally and test with client stakeholders.