Every semester, college students need to buy textbooks for their classes. At the end of the semester, they often no longer need the books and can get rid of them. How can we make this exchange easier and make sure that students can get the most out of it? We decide to create a central place for students to buy and sell all their textbooks that is convenient and offers fair prices.
Scope & duration: a semester-long group project (3 group members)
Role: I worked alongside with my teammates, Andrew Dildy and Jiachen Li, on the entire UI/UX design process, from user research and ideation to implementation and user testing.
During the user research phase, we mainly focused on finding out what problems students have with the current textbook exchange options on the market. There are three widely used solutions to this problem, but based on our interview results, they fail as a comprehensive solution for all of a student’s needs:
The first is textbook rental. Although rentals through Amazon or the student bookstore can be convenient, not all textbooks are available for rental.
The second is textbook buyback programs. Although very convenient, buybacks severely undervalue textbooks and will often refuse books in usable but imperfect condition.
The third is selling the textbook independently. Although this extracts maximum value for textbooks, it’s extremely inconvenient -- it involves personal meet-ups and sketchy transactions.
Based on the feedback we collected from user interviews and market research, we focused on ideating for a mobile application that enables simple and convenient textbook transaction between students. We created journey map to map out the current process of buying and selling textbooks on an online platform in order to find pain-points that users experienced. We also started making sketches and identified the major functionalities of our application.
— bCourses integration
We decided to integrate our application into the existing bCourses system, the system used by UC Berkeley students to access course information. To sign in to our app, the user simply needs to log into their CalNet account, which ensures that our user population is restricted to Cal students.
— personal library to hold textbooks that the user is currently using and can potentially sell in the future
Through "My Library", students can view and manage the textbooks that they possess and use for their current classes. These books can be added by simply scanning the barcode of the book. At the end of the semester, students can directly post these books to the marketplace after adding a few other pieces of information, such as condition and price. This function aims to help students keep track of their textbook possession and make listing textbooks just a few edits away.
— in-app messenger to allow easy communication
Communication is the key to a successful transaction. A lot of the failure in FB exchange groups comes from the lack of and the delay in prompt communication between sellers and buyers.
— barcode scan to prevent typo when entering details about the book
During the realization phase, we aimed to make our user flows as simple and intuitive as possible, and the criteria we use to evaluate the success of our design is the number of clicks the user needs to make to complete a certain task. For the current prototype, the user can list a textbook for sale with five clicks and find a specific book with four clicks.