Preparing the community together
With the number of climate related disasters and emergencies being on the rise, it’s more important than ever for people in disaster prone areas to be prepared. WeShare is a peer-to-peer website that facilitates people to share supplies within their communities under emergency situation and stay safe.
To understand people's mental modals on sharing things with strangers, we conducted 4 short interviews and asked people questions from both the borrowing and lending perspectives. We wanted to address two specific issues in mind.
On what occasions would people borrow stuffs from strangers?
What do people concern about when they lend out their stuffs?
1. Borrowing - I don't want to bother strangers unless I really need to
People's responses towards the idea of borrowing stuffs from strangers for emergency are conflicting. They try their utmost to avoid the awkwardness of asking strangers favors. However, they also acknowledge that sometimes borrowing is a better solution given certain circumstances.
Design implications -
We need to focus on these circumstances where borrowing an item is a better decision that purchasing the item. This means -
The items being shared should be the most essential ones under emergency, and are usually only needed temporarily.
The pickup should happen within very short time-frame to provide time value.
2. Lending - sure I want to lent it out to someone in need if there is no loss on my end.
Under the emergency situation, people are generally quite positive about sharing their idle items with someone in need. They don't necessarily want return or benefit from it but they need to be assured that at least they will not suffer loss.
Design implications -
How can motivate people to lease their idle items on our platform ?
We need to let the owner know there are pressing needs for the item and his/her contribution will be meaningful.
There should be a trust mechanism that shows reliability of the borrower and protect owners from loss.
A Peer-to-Peer Model
We created a service model to represent the basic value flow. We restrained the items to be lent/borrow to only emergency-related supplies so that the platform would not become a place fill with irrelevant or undesirable items.
Service Model, created by Sam.
From our research we chose to focus on what would facilitate the act of borrowing and lending between strangers and came up with a list of features. We drew them into storyboards and speed-dated them with people, which helped us validate our ideas as well as further refining our domains.
Have users exchange items following an emergency supplies checklist.
Lenders have the option of requiring deposits for expensive items.
Restrict the leasing term to only the time during the emergency.
Show the status of the borrowing/lending item to to remind users.
Based on the feedbacks we got from speed-dating our storyboards, we reshaped our high-level thinking for the product and our service model.
Pivot 1 - From 'for emergency only' to a versatile platform
During the speed-dating session, we saw that a platform that only served emergency situation would be hard to stand alone due to the lack of multiple touch points and user stickiness. What was more, we realized that borrowing items for one-time use and leasing idle household items was actually a daily need that we could leverage strategically to approach the original problem.
So instead of building an emergency prepping platform, we decided to create a more 'versatile' site. It encourages daily supplies sharing; but when disasters hit, it would feature on the supplies that are specific for tackling the emergency situation.
Pivot 2 - From a completely open platform to 'neighborhood-centered'
When reading the storyboards, users still seemed uncertain about sharing items with complete strangers. However, some hinted that even a distant connection with the other person would make them feel much more relatable to the person.
Leveraging weak social ties to foster the trust and facilitate the exchange, we narrowed down the sharing scope to neighborhood. This made it easier for people to find the common ground and also provided more convenience in terms of getting and retuning the items.
We started to vision how our user will interact with the platform and created a screen map to represent the user flow all the way from signing up, lending or borrowing the items, to what happen after returning the items.
I was in charged of designing for the web platform. After moving into mid-fi wire-framing, how to optimize the visual hierarchy of different items on one page to help users achieve their goals while providing good navigation became a challenge. I explored different layouts and representations for the following 4 sections -
Daily supplies available
Top sharers in the community
Navigation of the site
Exploring different layouts to optimize information hierarchy.
We made high-fidelity screen mockups for the most important touch-points of our service. While WeShare will be a responsive website, here we will demonstrate the borrow section on laptop devices and the lend section in mobile devices.
A place for daily needs & emergency reaction
For borrowers, WeShare contextually features a list of supplies based on what the community needs at the moment, while also showing daily items that people like to borrow.
It understand what's important for you and help you make fast decisions.
After borrower chooses or search a specific item type, they can browse through available items quickly to make decisions based on item conditions, proximity, deposit amount and other factors.
Request as you need.
If the item you need already run out on the platform, make a request to let your community knows. People are always glad to help.
Borrow with trust
and treat with care.
Item details page is simple and clean, designed for borrowers to read carefully. We also display the lender profile in this page to enhance the connection between lenders and borrowers and foster a sense of belonging to the community.
Lend out what your community needs.
On the Lend page, each item is ranked in order of what is most requested. This allows user to understand what item can have maximum impact in the community.
Decide whom you are lending to.
Lenders will get notified who wants to borrow from them and be able to review the borrower's past track records. It helps lender make an informed decision to accept or reject the request .
Manage and track your items.
Users can easily manage and track the items that they least out or borrow on WeShare. They can send a simple reminder to the borrowers about the due date without being impolite.