Laptop Lender

A 15-week product design project aims to address the e-waste problem at Georgia Tech by providing accessible laptop options for college students and promoting the laptop circular economy. As a result, we developed Laptop Lender, a mobile and a kiosk for students to sell, buy, and lend second-hand laptops.

Role:
Product designer
UX researcher

Team:
4 HCI master's students @ Gatech

Methods:
Contextual inquiry
Prototyping
Usability testing
Data analysis

Tools:
Figma
Qualtrics
Tableau
Miro

01. Overview

Problem Space

Spotlight the e-waste problem on campus

We discovered an increased number of unwanted laptops disposed at Georgia Tech, which raised an e-waste problem. It led to the questions of reducing e-waste by facilitating students to sell, lend, and buy not-in-use laptops.

Problem Statement

"How might promote a circular economy for laptops on college campuses, facilitating reuse of laptops and minimizing e-waste?"

Solutions

Design a mobile app and a kiosk for students to sell, buy, and lend used laptops within the Georgia Tech community

Finding affordable laptop options

Students can easily search for desired laptop for purchase and lending with a filter and receive a QR code 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 sell or lend out their devices quickly while providing sufficient device information to buyers.

No-contact laptop drop-off and pick-up

Students can browse new laptops, drop off and pick up devices by scanning QR or typing an order number manually at the kiosk.

02. 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 methods: exploratory research, survey, and interview.  

Task Analysis

Map what roles students perform and their rationale behind each decision in the laptop circular economy

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

01.
Invisibility

Recycling and trade-in programs are invisible to the majority of consumers.

02.
Disincentive

Getting rid of old equipment is not perceived as urgent or even necessary.

03.
Inaccessibility

Compared to other electronic devices, laptops lack options for recycling and trade-in.

04.
Specification

Specifications are the most important factors in choosing a new device.

05.
Inflexibility

Users tend to keep their old laptops as a backup to operate different tasks.

06.
Unreliability

Second-hand purchasing is held to a higher standard than purchasing new.

03. Design

Design Requirements

01.
Visibility

Bridge the gap between knowledge and opportunities for students to recycle and reuse unwanted laptops

02.
Incentive

Encourage students to participate in the laptop circular economy by reselling, reusing, and recycling unwanted devices

03.
Accessibility

Provide a wide range of accessible options for students to sell and acquire second-hand laptops

04.
Capability

Prioritize laptop specifications for buyers to easily find the device they want

05.
Flexibility

Allow for flexibility where users can find an additional laptop for particular usage

06.
Reliability

Establish trust between sellers and buyers, so both sides feel safe in using the platform

Ideation

Brainstorm design ideas and select an overarching design concept

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, compared their strengths and weaknesses, and voted for the best design ideas that are capable of fulfilling the design requirements. Below is the selection of drawings that we made during the brainstorm session.  

Storyboard

Illustrate key scenarios of how students might use the product

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 an 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.

04. Prototype

Design solution

Iterate the prototype in different levels of fidelity to meet design requirements

We combined the product features from the 2 storyboards to address the design requirements and main use cases. We envisioned a mobile app and a kiosk that offer second-hand laptop selling, lending, and buying services. We divided the design process into 3 stages based on fidelity levels and iterate the design in between.

Low-fi Prototype

Draw initial designs to demonstrate the basic user flows

We did parallel prototypes, where we created multiple alternative designs simultaneously, so it allowed high-level brainstorming and afforded design freedom to each designer. Then, we combined the best and the most creative design featurea into a low-fi prototype.

Mid-fi Prototype

Design user flows and UI on a mid-fi prototype in Figma

After brainstorming sessions with the researchers, we turned the paper low-fi into a mid-fidelity prototype on Figma to streamline the users flow, map out the UI, and determine the key features.

Final Designs

Design System

Onboarding

Lending a laptop

Listing a not-in-use laptop

Searching for a desired laptop

Checking your laptop status

Dropping off and picking up devices at the kiosk

05. Testing

Usability Testing

Validate the usability of the design by conduct task-based evaluations

To test whether the design meets our predetermined design requirements and understand what our users think about the product, we decided to do an in-person user test by conducting a 2-hours task-based evaluation with 4 Georgia Tech students.

06. Reflection

Lesson Learned

01. 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 a user-friendly product.
02. Importance of optimizing for different touchpoints
We discovered that many software programs could help optimize the research, prototype, and testing process. Effectively using these technologies could save designers' time and optimize our productivity.
03. Learn from the community
In addition to the standard user research methods, visiting the local communities and talking to the people are effective ways to learn about our users.