UI/UX • Interaction Design
Consuum is a design for a mobile app and website that provides college students with a trusted online community for buying, selling, and borrowing items or services.
This was a collaborative project with fellow industrial design student Ingrid Lange. The class involved identifying a market, defining a target customer, and creating a business plan to implement our product idea.
Our target group is college students. We think that the pre-existing community of a college campus is ideal for creating an online platform for sharing and selling.
Specifically, our customers are college students who are in transition: transitioning into a new home or starting on a new project that causes them to need to buy, sell, or lend items or services.
College students already use several tools to share items and skills online, but the current products don’t offer an experience tailored to fit all of their specific needs.
Facebook and Craigslist are the most common websites that students use, but each of these products has problems.
The first thing we looked at was how students are currently fulfilling their need for exchanging goods and services. Campuses commonly use Facebook for this purpose already. RISD, for example, has a Facebook page called Free and For Sale, which acts as a marketplace that builds upon the pre-existing network of Facebook to pull users from. Other campuses have similar pages, which are usually informal student-created and managed pages.
Another common website students use for buying and selling goods and services is Craigslist. While both of these pages are used often by college students, they have their problems. It is difficult to find specific items efficiently on the Facebook groups and many college students don’t feel safe using Craigslist due to the anonymous nature of the product.
Facebook pages are great since they are made up of a pre-existing network that feels safe and secure. However, facebook pages are not searchable or organized.
Craigslist is great because it’s easy to find what you’re looking for. The downside is the anonymity and lack of community, which creates a creepy environment for college students.
One of the biggest insights we gained from our research and testing was that users want a platform that lets them easily search for the things they want. Facebook groups are not easily searchable, and therefore users must constantly check the page for fear of missing out on deals, a feature that works to Facebook’s advantage.
Many conversations we had indicated that customers didn’t necessarily care who they were buying or selling from, as long as the transaction went through. We decided that in order to preserve the strong community that is present with Facebook, students would sign up with their .edu email or through their university Facebook page.
Our high fidelity wireframes represent refinements on the thinking that we explored previously in our initial wireframes. After the sign-up process of entering a .edu email, our customers are greeted with a searchable, sortable listing of items and services that are for sale and requests that have been made. In addition to the interactions of posting and requesting items or services, users can monitor a dashboard of items they are selling, and keep track of their messages with other sellers and buyers.
As part of the entrepreneurship portion of the class, we also developed a marketing and financial study that involved the creation of a 5-year plan, financial projections, and a strategy for reaching users.
One important technique we plan to use is to partner with key local organizations surrounding college campuses. This will include university-sponsored organizations such as the campus Center for Student Involvement or equivalent as well as relevant local businesses that also target the college audience.
Another important technique we will use to expand the user base is to tap into the existing network of Facebook by using the hashtag #consuum. This will enable one post to appear across the two platforms simultaneously, incentivizing people to use Consuum.
The growth and financial assumptions below are based on regional growth starting at Rhode Island School of Design and Brown University. These two schools, which are in close proximity to each other, will be an ideal place for us to valudate our idea through starting with a local market before expanding. Taking into accound the 13 million full-time undergraduate students in the US, we believe that there is a lot of potential for growth, especially in dense urban areas and college towns like Boston where there are tens of thousands of students in close proximity to each other.
These revenue assumptions were based on the 5 year projections for growth above and combined with revenue from a 2% credit card transaction and advertising. The 2% commission covers the 1.5% fee charged by credit card companies, and the advertising revenue was based on comparable industry competitors. Instagram made $600 million in revenue in 2014, and with 300 million registered users, that translates to $2 per customer per year in advertising revenue.