Scrapp is a used goods donation assistant focused on ethics and making an impact that matters. Scrapp is focused on convenience too — find a drop-off point for your old stuff, or organize a pick up at a time that suits you. I co-managed this project with some brilliant design students at CUNY.
This project took place from December 2019 to February 2020 as part of a human centered design class project with other CUNY students. We started this project with a question:
How might we make it easier to donate clothes and inspire people to be more intentional about where they end up?
We used a Kanban task manager to keep things on track. This agile approach enabled us to manage work by balancing demands with available capacity, and by improving the handling of system-level bottlenecks. Work items are visualized to give the whole team a view of progress and process, from start to finish—via a Kanban board (below).
Ha-Brookshire and Hodges (2009) looked at social responsibility as a motivator for used clothing donations. They found that discarding used clothing was usually prompted by the need to make room for new clothes—not an altruistic want to “give back”. This critical insight was the first indication that we could not rely on altruism alone. Our product had to be convenient too.
Donation apps are not uncommon, but our comparative and competitive analysis showed that certain trends dominate. Many larger organizations have created apps to help schedule pickups or to direct donors to drop-off sites. Map-based apps help donors know where there are donation locations nearby. None of the apps focus directly on the ethics of the organizations. We also found it hard to know what was accepted at drop sites vis-a-vis existing apps.
We also began to grasp more about annoyances and followed up on motivations. The findings about social responsibility held up in our interviews too. People were mostly motivated by convenience.
This user is motivated purely by convenience. Their used clothes often go to a landfill because they are too busy juggling a young family and work to concern themselves with such things.
"I need a pickup service."
"Carrying bags on the subway takes energy and it's a lot to carry." "I'm incredibly busy. I just don't have time."
This user is most interested in avoiding waste to landfill. They want to recycle, upcycle, bicycle.. all of the cycles. They are motivated by reducing their carbon footprint. This user loves feeling like their donations go to a cause they support but they want to know where their donation will end up.
"I would like to know who needs what."
"I won't donate to any religious charities who promote an anti-lgbtqi+ agenda. I need other options and it needs to be clear."
"I struggle to find drop off locations" "No easy way to see the philosophy of a donation site."
Here is some insight into how we built our initial personas using the data we extrapolated and abstracted from our interviews.
Our trader persona was later dropped because although some of our users expressed a desire to sell or trade their used goods, we had to prioritize and narrow the scope of our project. Scrapp is really about donating and recycling. There are numerous trading apps out there for users wanting to capitalize on their goods.
Later, our social do-gooder type was combined with our environmentalist, eventually becoming “Doff”, our (drop it off) personality. Refining our personas enabled us to design for everyone, without it becoming too crowded.
Ethics and transparency are a bonus. Some users reacted positively to having a new sense of control but all were more interested in the convenience aspect. Another positive feature users talked about was iconography associated with listings showing who accepted what (e.g. does take clothes, does not take books).
Adam Inglis – UX Designer and Researcher based in New York.