The UX Problem to be solved

The CEO of a prominent company in the hot collaborative consumption space wants a better system to engage more users. (If you aren’t familiar with the concept, some good resources are and the March 9, 2013 cover story in the Economist.)

Their mission is to make shared use of products and services as common as individual purchases.  It follows the path of companies such as AirBnB, Buzzcar, and Uber, which allow sharing of particular products (cars, housing, etc).  Their patented technology makes it easy for consumers and business to share any product or service. The company has integrated use of global virtual currency (like bitcoin) which can be used to purchase access to any asset in the system.

The Company charges a small transaction fee for each product or service exchanged through the system. Therefore, the more activity, the more money they makes.

Upper management cares about the social benefits of sustainability.  However, in the end,, it is a for-profit company, with investments and partnerships from some of the world’s largest corporations, so profits matter.

The cost paid for the products or services are : priced at a fixed cost, per hour of use, or per day of use, or per week of use.


The UX Solution and framework using behavioral psychology and gamification systems:

  • The collaborative consumption based economy is a new concept to many. The “profit- for – purpose” model seems like a great idea where Gamification can be used in certain aspects to enhance the “person to person” experience.
  • The primary constraint of any user would be the potential for damage done or theft of the shared product
  • Also there is a concern for the fear of non-payment in case of services provided.

 The company must take the following business decisions:

  1. That the company has, within its own company policy, full proof insurance against theft and damage to products along with teams in place for customer complaints.
  2. That Every user (buyers & sellers) will have been checked for identity verification and address verification, along with proof that the product (car, laptop, jet-ski etc) is owned by the registered user and not a third party.
  3. Also let us assume that the unregulated virtual currency will be treated as a real physical currency in any possible future legal issues.

My UX solution for this problem

  1.  Business objectives

  • The sharing based economy is based on the value of trust, transparency, economic empowerment, human connections and community resilience (citation) thus the primary objective would be to create an easy to use interface which gives all users the feelings “citizenship”, within this community.
  • To ensure that “BEST” user will not be those who have the most money on entry, it will be someone who have helped the most people by sharing their product or service over time.
  • To ensure that products and services being transacted are well taken care of and insured for safety through a ranking and rating system. (Higher rating/ranking = higher safety/trust).
  • To consistently improve activity overtime through process of onboarding. An example would be to get x number of points on signup and x number of points when inviting friends into the system or x number of points when completing the identity verification process.
  • All of the above results in ‘anchoring’ the user as he/she already has a few points to spend as soon as he/she finishes making and verifying the account.


  1. Target behaviors

  • Regular interaction– Users should want to transact in day to day and expensive products and services to be shared (sports cars and bikes, high end computers etc). Every other day, users should want to have fun with a product or service they don’t own. They should feel the need to login every day to add certain products and services to their interest/wish list. The system will try pairing them up with someone who is offering up something similar when it becomes available.
  • Group formation- Users who don’t know each other but want to take part in group activities or use of products together can collaborate with each other. (like 5 strangers going jetsking together) The system will give special perks and benefits to group purchases (lower rates, extra points, bonus products etc.)


  1. Describing the user targeting

The users are individuals who have an idea or have had some experience with the community marketplace as an alternative to the traditional form of transfer of assets. They are internet savvy individuals who have at least heard the concept of virtual currency if not experienced it. If they haven’t heard of it they should be willing and allowed to try it in a very simple straight forward method.

Primary targeted buyers would be in the age group of 16 to 30, they are highly motivated to use high end products and services but often don’t have the surplus funds needed to buy them or store them without taking on debt.

They are not always interested in permanent ownership of assets at this point in their lives. The age group 31 and above statistically have assets which are valued by others and they can be paid by others to rent out those assets temporarily.

All demographics are welcome to join, as the concept is driven by profit for purpose. These players would often be categorized as the explorers and the socializers from Bartle’s player type model. By definition such player personalities want to regularly try new things in the form of experiences, products or services. They are highly engaged with the sharing community and thus make regular transaction on a timely basis.

It is important to note that this behavior of regular transactions, community and socializing revolves around the citizenship effect based on trust and security.


  1.  Activity loops/ Engagement loops and progression loops

There are five basic levels of player progresion in this game system.

  1. “The newbie”,
  2. “the worker bee”,
  3. “the experienced”, “
  4. the pro”,
  5. “the boss”

Onboarding- ‘ the newbie’ is required to go through a simple yet serious process of signing up, verifying his identity and completing his profile with help wherever required. Once this is done he/she receives a certain number of free points in their account.

Level ups and badges –

  • After making their first “purchase or sale” (for lack of a better term) they receive x number of points and level up to receive a badge to prove that you have used the system at least once.
  • They need to make x number of purchases or sales to reach the next level which is “the worker bee”.
  • Even though they get perks, status, badges etc when he/she “levels up”, the player will have to do a lot more than simple sales and purchases of products or services to reach the “boss” status.
  • The level ups, points and rankings are more centered towards the community aspect of the game system and not the amount of the share currency which you have accumulated.
  • For example- someone who has lots of money and few social point scores will have the less authority in the system compared to someone who has less money but more social points.
  • Thus power of this mini-economy within our app is not in measurable wealth, but rather, in measurable social deeds and sharing.


  1.  The ‘fun’ used to illicit motivation 
  • The incentive to use the system for collaborative consumption and not any other alternative is:
  • As users “level UP” when they have more authority and ranking, the system lets you buy products and services at cheaper rates and sell/rent out your own assets at a slightly higher rate.
  • Once ranked up, you are illegible to receive more points per product shared, the higher your own rank is over time, the less you’ll have to pay for products.
  • Thus players have an incentive to rank up and help others because this will directly lead them to a higher rank, which they can then use to get cheaper deals, or higher rates for their own products and services.
  • example – laptop with xyz specs at “10 points/ day” for newbies, at “8 points/day” for worker bees etc, 6points/day for the experienced … etc.


  1. The psychological tools being used
  • Dynamics used – constraints and progression
  • Mechanics used – feedback, transactions, rewards and win states.
  • Components used- achievements, levels, social graphs, points, virtual goods

The system, just by itself, provides the intrinsic motivation of community citizenship and helping others. However to make it profitable and manageable, user progression and ratings are tracked and measures through a points, levels and ranking system.

A higher rank would be based on a combination of factors like number of new people registered via the exsisitng user, number of items shared, feedback score given by the buyer/seller, help given in the community (judged by upvotes)

Rating and comments- In order to keep things fair for everyone and ensure proper behavior, as well as, careful handling of the product after the completion of every transaction, both the buyer and seller has to leave a rating (measured in starts like in app stores) along with a comment about the opposite party. This will be displayed in the public profile. It will create an extra criteria for judging players and will hopefully keep others in check over their own behavior.

Example- A “newbie” with a five star rating is more attractive, higher ranked, and more valued as a shareall community member, than a “boss” with a 2 star rating.