Aloe Thrift: An App to Help the Earth
Timeline: Two Weeks
Project Goals: Design a responsive app that works across mobile, tablet, and desktop that focuses on civic action
In Interactive Media II, I was assigned a project to create an app, Aloe Thrift, to help a local community while being responsive across three interfaces: mobile, tablet, and desktop. As a designer, I was required to choose a topic/issue that interested me. I chose to focus on thrifting and how it benefits local communities.
I wanted to design an app that would allow thrift/vintage shops or sellers to resale clothing. Recently, many past fashion trends are coming back! Some popular ones are like 80s, 90s street, and Y2k. Though people are turning to vintage shops or thrift stores to find these styles, many are buying new, copies of these retro styles. The problem is that clothing is often thrown out even after being donated, and that contributes to the large amount of pollution and land fills. Another issue I wanted to target was the popularity of fast-fashion. Fast-fashion is when companies produce cheap clothes at a rapid pace in order to succeed during fashion trends. At first, it seems like a good idea for those who do not have a lot of money but it is the opposite. Workers outside of America (usually in Asia) are exploited and are forced to work long days, are paid the bare minimum, and are overall in bad conditions. These clothes are also made out of cheap toxic materials that pollute our environment and water. They are mass produced, only to end up in landfills only weeks after the fashion trend is done. A lot of people, especially my age (young adults), do not have knowledge that this is going on behind the scenes. The most disappointing part is that many cannot afford ethically made clothing and feel forced to continue contributing to these fast-fashion brands. That’s where second hand shops come in! We live in a time where vintage and retro clothing is in! Though the clothing there may not be “right now” trends, they can become popular again or be statement pieces. I wanted to design an app that not only gives access to second hand shops but also to normalize them. Many people still see thrift shops as dirty or old and therefore judge those who can only afford it. Aloe Thrifts will not only inform the users but also encourage them to inform others.
My first step was to do some heavy duty research! If I was going to inform others, I needed to know the facts myself. When starting, I only knew a couple facts about the fashion industry and pollution. Conducting research made me more confident on my design and idea. I knew I wanted to focus on thrift shops and our environment but I did not know how to combine those ideas with an app. I looked at many other reselling apps like Depop and Poshmark. After comparing and contrasting the two, I started to get an idea of how I wanted to design my app. A majority of the project was producing accurate research and information. When it came to designing, I felt confident in the style I chose to pursue because it was youthful, clear, and would aesthetically fit in with my target audience.
I used Figma for all three prototypes. I liked learning about Figma, but I was not used to it. In previous interactive projects I’ve used Adobe XD. I am glad I was able to learn both! I also used Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Both programs were used to create/edit details like icons or illustrations.
To connect my topic and app, the idea was to have a simple, abstract, organic design. Since this app was created to help the earth, I kept to natural tones of green and brown. At first, the typeface was cute and informal. I thought that was restricting of who would be attracted to my app (age and gender wise) so I changed it to another typeface that was blocky and had character. Looking back, I am glad I did not go that route, because the typeface was hard to read and disrupted my original idea for the design.
This persona I created was to help portray my target audience. I wanted my target audience to be young, fashion-forward, and eco-friendly. “Emily Jones” is the ideal user I was going for.
In order to make Aloe Thrift different from competitors, I completed a competitive analysis of the top two most popular reselling apps. From this, I was able to include the positive features from both apps into Aloe Thrift while also designing new features Depop and Poshmark did not have.
Individual Screen Designs: Mobile
Link to Mobile Prototype: https://www.figma.com/proto/he5HGBq8Ey8OgdJYmT8rFX/Aloe_thrift?node-id=3%3A280&scaling=scale-down&page-id=0%3A1&starting-point-node-id=3%3A280
Individual Screen Designs: Tablet
Link to Tablet Prototype: https://www.figma.com/proto/QUkBM8WoLddjZGkN7SJ2JU/aloe_thrift_tablet?node-id=1%3A2&scaling=scale-down&page-id=0%3A1&starting-point-node-id=1%3A2
Individual Screen Designs: Desk Top
Throughout the project, I was asked to show my progress to my classmates through discussions. I would get insecure when posting because no one was required to respond to my post but they could still see it. A lot of the beginning I felt lost and confused. The discussions did help me through my project because I was able to receive feedback from classmates! I also enjoyed giving my advice to others. It really helps to have an outside eye looking into your designs.
When receiving feedback, I had to do a lot more qualitative research. As of more recently, many apps have come about to help people resell clothing and other items. I got concerns that my app would not be different enough. I remember another classmate asked, “how will this be different from your competitive app Depop?” that pushed me to create an app that was different from other reselling apps. I started to ask myself, “what are micro interactions that people would enjoy?”, “How can I organize content differently?”, “What will make users keep coming back to Aloe Thrift?”
After a lot of thinking, I thought, “people love to save money”. That is the moment that I came up with the rewards/point system! The more users purchase/sell, the more points that they can earn. Once they gain enough points, they’ll be given a coupon to use within the app. To dive deeper, I assumed that the more people would buy/sell, the more rare the rewards would get. That would push people enough to buy second hand and get into habit of looking on Aloe Thrift before other apps. If I did not push myself to be different, Aloe Thrift would be just like Depop or Poshmark.
In the discussions, I would ask for specific advice to improve my design. In one discussion, I asked about the text and clarity of my app. When I asked this, I had a thick chunky text as the main typeface. I already knew this typeface would cause problems but I liked how it looked and wanted to find a way to keep it. I wanted my app to be as accessible and stylish as possible. A classmate suggested, “add a different typeface for subtext because it makes your spaces look crowded.” I agreed because having everything be thick and chunky made the hierarchy unclear. I was also told that the typeface looked like a similar one used in Spongebob Squarepants. That was not what I wanted, but this was the push I needed to find a new typeface. I then spent a long time looking for both a main and subtext typeface that worked well together and the design.
Through creating Aloe Thrift, I learned more about prototyping, designing an app, and how brand the app to be different from competitors. I was required to learn Figma, a web-based prototyping and graphics editor tool. I struggled with learning this program because it is different from Adobe XD, which I had more knowledge in. By pushing through the challenges, I was able to successfully prototype Aloe Thrift and add a new program to my skill set.
To improve Aloe Thrift, I would change the main typeface. Looking at the designs now bother me because I do not think the typeface I chose fits the need. Initially, the typeface looks modern and sleek but compared to the contents of the app, it is illegible, especially in smaller sizes. This makes Aloe Thrift less inclusive and accessible to those who have vision difficulties.
Sources and Citations
Environmental Protection Agency. (n.d.). Textiles: Material-Specific Data. US EPA. Retrieved January 26, 2021, from https://www.epa.gov/facts-and-figures-about-materials-waste-and-recycling/textiles-material-specific-data
Porter, B. (n.d.). What Really Happens to Unwanted Clothes? Green America. Retrieved January 26, 2021, from https://www.greenamerica.org/unraveling-fashion-industry/what-really-happens-unwanted-clothes
Battered Women’s Support Services. (2019, August 27). The Problem with Fast Fashion. BWSS. Retrieved January 28, 2021 from, https://www.bwss.org/fastfashion/
Maiti, R. (2020, January 29). Fast Fashion: Its Detrimental Effect on the Environment. Earth.Org. Retrieved February 6, 2021 from, https://earth.org/fast-fashions-detrimental-effect-on-the-environment/
White, A. (2020, October 5). Design Trend: Abstract Geometry, a Historically Modern Style. Retrieved March 21, 2021 from, https://www.shutterstock.com/blog/abstract-geometry-design-trend-explained
Woroch, A. (2020, June 29). 13 Best Apps for Buying and Selling Used Stuff. Retrieved January 26, 2021 from https://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/spending/slideshows/best-buy-and-sell-apps-for-used-stuff
Epstein, L. (2019, June 15). The Pros and Cons of Using Coupons for your Business. Retrieved March 8, 2021 from, https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/051815/pros-cons-using-coupons-your-business.asp