Laptop Lender

The project addresses a lack of accessible laptop options for college students and the e-waste problem on campus. We developed Laptop Lender, a mobile and a kiosk for students to sell, buy, and lend second-hand laptops.

Product designer
UX researcher

Contextual Inquiry
Usability testing
Data analysis

4 HCI master students @ Gatech

15 weeks

Ⅰ. Overview

Problem Space

We discovered an increased number of unwanted laptops disposed at Georgia Tech, which raised an e-waste problem. It led to the questions of how to promote a laptop circular economy on campus to minimize e-waste by facilitating students to sell, lend, and buy not-in-use laptops.
(Below is images of Kendeda Building loading deck which is an on-campus spot to drop-off and recycle e-waste.)


We designed a mobile app and a kiosk for students to sell, buy, and lend used laptops within the Georgia Tech community. It offers a affordable, convenient, and personalized solution to fulfill students’ specialized educational and technological needs while addressing the environmental concern.

Finding affordable laptop options

Students can easily search for laptops with a filter and buy and lend a laptop. Users receive a QR code and an order number for picking up and returning the device.

Giving unwanted laptops a second life

The selling and lending out process is a linear design that empowers sellers to provide sufficient device information to buyers, and sell or lend out their devices quickly.

No-contact laptop drop-off and pick-up

Users can browse new laptops and drop off or pick up devices by scanning a QR code on their mobile device or typing an order number manually at the kiosk.

Ⅱ. Research

User Research

We were surprised by a hill of e-waste at Georgia Tech and started thinking about how to reduce electronics disposal to build a more sustainable campus.

To get an insight into laptop recycling services available for students, how students recycle, and why they do not recycle their laptops, we conducted 3 user research methodsexploratory research, survey, and interview.
(Click the bars to check the research details)

Market Research

To better understand the problem space and its history, our preliminary research focused on electronics circular economy and how it facilitated the circulation of electronic devices from the past to the present. Below is 5 existing system that we found.
Small Business

Survey Process

Based on the preliminary research, we decided to narrow the problem space down to laptop instead of a variety of electronics, because, compared to mobile devices, there were not many programs offered to students to recycle laptops. We saw a gap between a large demand to recycle laptop and a lack of accessible laptop recycling options.

To quickly get a clear image of students’ attitudes and behavior toward recycling, repairing, and reusing laptops and approach to a large number of potential audience, we designed a 18-questions survey and handed it to Georgia Tech students on Qualtrics. This way also helped recruit potential interview participants to learn about their stories in-depth.

Results & Findings

We received over 60 responses from the students in 2 weeks and analyzed the survey data with Tableau. Here are the results:
91% owned at least 2 personal laptops throughout their life.
80% replaced their laptops once every 3+ years.
63% stored unused laptops in a private residency
70% found the recycle process foreign for those who never recycle laptops.
Laptop Specification
is the most important
factor when considering buying new laptops.
Outdated laptop models prevents people
from selling
their laptops.

Interviews with Target Users

We found 4 Georgia Tech students from the survey poll and conducted 30-mins semi-structured interviews on Zoom and asked 25+ questions to delve into their incentives of recycling, reselling, and reusing laptops or what prevented them from doing so.  

Interviews with Stakeholders

We also wanted to understand the available options for students to handle unwanted laptops in the area, so we conducted 4 unstructured interviews with stakeholders and visited their workplaces in-person to learn about how they trade-in, repair, and recycle laptop.
Office of Information
Technology at GT
Best Buy
in Atlanta, GA
Ecycle Atlanta in
College Park, GA
Micro Center
in Duluth, GA

Interview Data Analysis

We collected 148 pieces of interview notes and mapped the data in an affinity diagram on Miro. We discovered 12 higher-level summarized ideas that helped understand user behavior and interests and define the common themes for ideation in the next step.

Task Analysis

With all the collected user research data, we wanted to understand what roles students perform and their rationale behind each decision in the laptop circular economy, so we mapped how students complete tasks to achieve their goals in a task-analysis diagram. The diagram allows us to explore design opportunities in the current system.

Key Research Findings

We synthesized all the research data and got so many different research findings. I prioritized 6 key research findings: invisibility, disincentive, inaccessibility, specification, inflexibility, and untrustworthy that helped develop our design requirements and informed some design choices in the next phase.

Ⅲ. Design

Design Requirements

Based on the 6 key research findings, we defined 6 design requirements: visibility, incentive, accessibility, capability, flexibility, and reliability to address users’ major pain points. They served as a guideline for the design process.


We used Crazy 8’s, a core Design Sprint method where everyone brainstorms 8 distinct design ideas, to evoke creativity. In total, we generated 32 design ideas, and compared and grouped the similar stickies into 10 big categories.
Then, we created 10 sketches to visualize these big design ideas for us to compare and pick the best design ideas that are capable of fulfilling the design requirements. Below is the selection of drawings that we made collectively.  


We sat together and voted on the 2 optimal design ideas that best address the design requirements from the 10 sketches. Then, we turned them into 2 storyboards to generate a storytelling narrative of how Georgia Tech students may interact with the products.  

Jacket Listings(left) depicts a student selling their unwanted laptop and another searching for a new laptop to replace the damaged one on this online second-hand laptop marketplace. They find each other and trade the computer in person.  

GT Lending Library(right) tells a story of a student lending a more powerful laptop to support their academic needs. The protagonist finds the device on the GT Lending Library website, lends the computer, and picks it up at the kiosk, where it stores not-in-use laptops for rent.

Ⅳ. Prototype

Design solution

We combined the product features from the 2 storyboards because we perceived that this way effectively addresses all 6 design requirements that we proposed previously. We envisioned a mobile app and a kiosk that offer second-hand laptop selling, lending, and buying services. We decided to use Figma to design 3 levels of fidelity prototype: low, mid, and high, where we could collaborate and do high-level brainstorming.

Low-fi Prototype

We did parallel prototypes, where we created multiple alternative designs simultaneously, so we had the freedom to design our own versions of the product and later combined the best and most creative design features into a low-fidelity prototype.

Mid-fi Prototype

After confirming the main features and the workflows, we turned a hand-drawing low-fi into a mid-fidelity prototype on Figma to clarify the main design, elementary layouts, and roadmaps of the product and build a clear path to a hi-fi prototype.

High-fi Prototype

With the preparation of the low-fi and mid-fi prototypes, we were ready to make a hi-fi prototype on Figma by applying the design system and integrating the interactive elements. The hi-fi prototype also prepares for usability testing and product iteration in the next step

I am responsible for designing onboarding, lending and selling process, search function, and account setting page. Another designer in the team worked on the rest of the features.

Design System

We created moodboards to define a visual language for our design. We believe that the UI should give users a friendly, approachable, inviting, sustainable, and futuristic impression, so we carefully selected the below colors, icons, and fonts for the finished product to express the design theme.


Building a trustworthy laptop circular community (my design)

Lending a Laptop

Lending laptops to students for flexible uses (my design)

Listing a Not-in-use Laptop

Incentivizing students to resell, lend out, and recycle unwanted laptops

Searching for a Laptop

Quickly finding a laptop with demanded specifications  (my design)

Checking Laptop Status

Making laptop reusing options visible (my design)

Dropping off and Picking up Laptops at the Kiosk

Providing accessible Kiosk locations for students to drop-off and pick-up laptops

Ⅴ. Testing

Usability Testing

To test whether the prototype meets our design requirements and discover hidden design problems, we conducted 2-hours task-based evaluations with 4 Georgia Tech students.

User Tasks & Question

Based on the 6 design requirements that we established previously, we selected the most important 2 design requirements for evaluation: 1) providing information about accessible options for recycling and reselling and 2) meaningfully and accurately describing device capabilities.

We designed 6 tasks and 8 follow-up Likert scale questions to survey whether our digital solution fulfills the design requirements.

The 4 participants were asked to think aloud and share their thinking processes and reactions while performing the tasks on Figma prototype and answer evaluation questions afterward.
(click the image on the right for task and question details)

Outcome & Analysis

We organized the task completion data and the Likert scale responses into a histogram to analyze the result and discovered that the overall design is informative and easy to use, but minor changes can be made to optimize the user experience.
100% task completion rate and the high satisfaction level indicated that the task flows and the design are straightforward, and the main features, selling, buying, and lending, are intuitive for users to navigate. It meets our design requirements by giving students information about what to do with inactive laptops and providing reliable information about available devices for purchase and rental.


Based on the feedback we received from the participants, there are 4 areas that we considered to improve for future systems.

Ⅵ. Reflection

Lesson Learned

Evidence-Based Design

The project is a prominent demonstration of research-driven design, in which every design decision was carefully made based on research findings that we discovered. It made me realize the significance of conducting user research and usability testing because understanding your users is the key to enhancing user experience.

Optimization of Technology Implementation

We discovered that many software programs could help optimize the research, prototype, and testing process. Effectively using these technologies could save time and improve the research and design experience.

Learn from the Communities

In addition to the common user research methods, visiting the local communities and talking to the people there are also effective ways to supplement the user research.