Second Hive

Helping Georgia Tech students deal with unwanted items during move out in a sustainable way

Project Overview

Team: Avery Ao, Holly Sun, Abhinav Thukral, Catherine Yang

Methods: Survey, Semi-structured Interview, Comparative Analysis, Hierarchical Task Analysis, Storyboarding, Brainstorming, Prototyping, Benchmark Task Testing

Duration: 4 Months, Aug 2021 - Dec 2021

My Role: UX Researcher, UX Designer, UI Designer


Every year during the move-out season, Georgia Tech faces the problem of wasted items primarily made up of unwanted items that the students do not want to take with them. Though the institute has already been running programs and policies to reduce waste, the problem is still serious under the effects brought by factors including limited time, restricted budget, mindset, and so on. 

Problem Statement

How could we help Georgia Tech students deal with their unwanted items in a sustainable way during the move-out season?


We designed a mobile app that integrates functionalities including second-hand marketplace and donation centers to make the processing of unwanted items more economical, convenient, and efficient.

Product Overview

Sell & Buy Second-hand Items

Feature 1: Second-hand Marketplace - GT Only


A marketplace for Georgia Tech students to sell their items to others and also buy items from sellers.

Highlight 1 - Posts Promotion For Sellers

A marketplace for Georgia Tech students to sell their items to others and also buy items from sellers.

Promote Deal.png
Confirm and Pay.png

Highlight 2 - Secure Payment

Require both sellers and buyers to confirm and hold the payment until both update the order to be completed.

Highlight 3 - Donate If Couldn’t Sell

Suggest and help the sellers quickly switch to donate the item if the sellers could not sell it in their time frame.

Switch to Donate.png

Donate Items

Feature 2 - Donate By Drop-off & Pickup


Provide drop-off information and pick-up support for users.

Highlight 1 - Group Donating

Help users reach the required amount of items for requesting a pickup donation by grouping the users together.

Donate Pick up.png
User Research

How are GT students moving out? How do they decide between the methods they use to deal with items that they do not want to bring with them? What prevents them from processing their unwanted items in a more sustainable way? In order to identify factors behind their choices and behaviors and then try to develop solutions to help with that, we started our user research stage.

Research Findings

Finding 1: Students moving in are willing to buy second-hand items but are hesitant about the quality of the items.

Quotes for finding1.jpg

Through our survey, we realized that buying/getting second-hand items is an important part of the move-in process for students. Most students agreed to have received second-hand items in the past during their move-in. However, through our semi-structured interviews, we understood that there are several concerns associated with second-hand items such as the quality and reliability of the items.

Since reusing items as second-hand is cost-effective as well as sustainable, this finding is valuable to understand students' concerns when buying/selling used items. This information encourages us to think about designs that allow students to have some form of quality assurance or trust when re-using items.

Finding 2: Students prefer to donate some of their items (eg. clothes) during move out but find donations inconvenient

Through our survey, we observe that students prefer to donate their items such as clothes, small items (chairs, cloth racks, etc.), and appliances (microwaves, toasters, coffee machines, etc.). This data was congruent with our semi-structured interviews as students reported giving away their old items to donation services such as GoodWill or freshman students. However, when asked whether the students faced any problems with donations during our semi-structured interview, they revealed that carrying all the items to a donation service can be inconvenient and time-consuming.

This finding helps us identify the problems faced by students in donating their items on an individual basis and nudges us to consider better design solutions that can benefit both the student community and the donation services. We find that donation services can offer to pick-up services for large donations and consider designs that can leverage this facility to help students move out and donate more efficiently, not just individually, but also as a community.

Finding 3: Students are more willing to recycle when recycling methods are easily accessible

In our semi-structured interviews, we learned more about student problems associated with recycling and why items can be "hard to recycle". We also observed that the interviewees with dedicated and accessible recycling facilities were able to recycle more easily.

This is valuable to our design space because it presents accessibility to recycling facilities as a hindrance for students during their move out. This encourages us to think of direct design spaces such as increasing awareness about current recycling spots. In addition, we can think of indirect ways in which students can recycle in a DIY style where they can be more informed about universal recycling methods pertaining to different items.

Quotes for finding3.jpg

Finding 4: Students find move out time-consuming, however they do not spend a lot of time planning their move out

Our survey indicates that students are most likely to start planning their move-out merely 1-2 weeks before their move-out date. Based on our semi-structured interview, we learned that students considered the move-out to be highly time-consuming. They mentioned that they initially underestimated the time required for the process and that appropriate planning can be helpful.

We realize that following sustainable behavior on a time crunch can be challenging. As a result, planning ahead can not only ease the process of move-out, but also leave time for carrying out sustainable activities such as recycling and donation. This insight helps us understand the mismatch between expectations and reality of move-out time periods and encourages design ideas to help students better schedule their move-out.

Finding 5: Students usually seek help during their move out

Our semi-structured interview highlights the fact that students often seek additional help during their move out through either friends, family, or community.

Support from the community and friends is an efficient, cost-effective way of receiving help during move-out as compared to professional move-out trucks and movers and packers. Moreover, community effects can help encourage recycling behavior among people/students. We can utilize this finding to think about design ideas to simplify the process of seeking help and rewarding those who help others. We can also consider gamification as an incentive to help others and to further build on the community effects.

Finding 6: Students want to minimize their costs of move out and move in but do not plan their estimated costs

Quotes for finding 6.jpg

Our survey indicates how the estimated cost of move out varies significantly among students ranging from $0 to $1000. We found the average estimated cost of move out as $200. Through our semi-structured interview, we understood how students do not plan an estimate for their moveout cost, but focus on reducing their costs for move-out.

This insight encourages us to think about cost-saving measures for students during move-out. A cost estimator can allow students to better prepare and manage their spending during move-out, thereby creating a better experience

Design Requirements

After we collected valuable findings about the topic, we wanted to see which problems we could help with and what potentail solutions are. We started by setting design requirements to determine the scope and direction of our design. 


Online Second-hand Item Marketplace - GT Students Only

  • Buy & sell with only GT students

  • Log in via GT accounts

  • User goal - save money, safe

Donation/Recycle Support

  • Knowledge support

  • Resources

  • User goal - save time, get support

Move-out Manager

  • Planner and reminder

  • Provide resources, e.g. move-out schedule

  • User goal - save time, get support



  • Move-out resources

  • Support

  • User goal - efficient

Transparent & Private

  • Reduce concerns

  • Error prevention

  • Protect information

  • User goal - handle unexpected incidents, security

Flexible & Customizable

  • Variety and diversity

  • User goal - efficient

Develop & Ideate

With the requirements in our mind, we went on doing brainstorming to explore the creativity. We picked some of the ideas and did basic sketches. 

Second Hive
Second Hive Sketch.png

A second-hand marketplace with only GT students.

User goals

  • Save time & money

Design Requirements

  • Second-hand marketplace

Rate My
Rate My.png

Allow users to rate other buyers and sellers. The ratings and comments will be posted publicly for others’ references.

User goals

  • Transparent & Secure

Design Requirements

  • Second-hand marketplace

  • Transparent


A personal move-out manager.

User goals

  • Efficient

Design Requirements

  • Move-out manager

HelperBees & Jar of Honey

Users could send out requests for help during moveout and the users offering help would win awards that allow their request to be promoted in the future.

User goals

  • Efficient

Design Requirements

  • Accessible


Users could do group donating together to reach the minimum amount of items required by donation centers for offering pickup.

User goals

  • Efficient

Design Requirements

  • Donation/Recycle Support

Marauder's Map.png

The map will connect users with nearby donation centers.

User goals

  • Save time

Design Requirements

  • Donation/Recycle Support

UI Specification
Color Palette.png
Margins and Spacings.png
Deliver & Iterate

We assigned different sections of the product to every team member and I was responsible for designing the selling section, the notification section, and the user’s profile section, which include the profile page itself, the rating page, and orders with different statuses.

Simple Mockup Free Scene.jpg
Feature 1: Second-hand Marketplace - GT Only
Marketplace Search.png
Sell Flow.png

In the marketplace, the users have two roles. They will be either the sellers or the buyers. They could list the items they want to get rid of or browse/search for items that they want. To help guarantee users’ safety for their property and information, the system only allows login through Georgia Tech account.

Promote Deal.png

Highlight 1 - Posts Promotion For Sellers

If the sellers enter more accurate details about the items they are selling, their posts will be more likely seen by buyers in the general search. 

This feature would help the buyers reduce their concerns about the condition by keeping the process more transparent. And it will also help the sellers save time by encouraging them to enter more details.

Highlight 2 - Secure Payment

The system will ask the sellers to update the delivery details about the item and then send the deal to buyers to confirm and pay. And if the transaction is done via the system, the system will hold the money until both sides confirm that the order is completed, i.e. the sellers give out the item and the buyers receive the item which is consistent with the information provided by the sellers.

This feature would help keep the whole process transparent and guarantee the safety of the users’ property.

Sending the deal.png
Confirm and Pay.png
Confirm Completion.png
Switch to Donate.png

Highlight 3 - Donate If Couldn’t Sell

When the sellers are listing the item, the system will ask the sellers to also enter the time of availability of the item, i.e. the last day they would be able to keep the item. And when the system notices that the sellers are still not able to send out the item as the time comes closer, it will suggest the sellers switch to donate if applicable.

This feature would help users deal with unexpected incidents and avoid troubles and wasting.

Feature 2 - Donation
Donate Drop Off.png
Donate Pick up.png
Donation Join Pickup.png

Users will be able to get information if they want to drop-off their items and the system also provide pick-up request chance for users who could not do the drop-off.

Donate Invite.png

Highlight 1 - Group Donating

Because users may not have time or support to go to the donation centers, for example, not having a car to drive to the place, they could request a pickup by the donation center. However, there would be two potential barriers: first the most recent available pickup time would be too far away in the future that could not meet the users’ availability; second the users may not be able to reach to the required amount by themselves. In this case, the system provides users support by allowing them to schedule a pickup and invite/wait others to join them or join others pickups. Therefore, if the most recent available time does not work, users could choose from those existing pick which may have an earlier time. If the users could not reach to the amount by themselves, others’ joining the group could add to the total.

By providing a platform to group users together, the system provides more support and reduces the efforts the users need to donate their items.


If the group donating still could not reach to the amount, the users have to cancel this activity.

What I Learned


I learned that sustainability does not restrict to the typical sustainable topics like saving energy and recycling items. Instead, as one of our participants said, if you are not wasting something that is reusable, you are living a sustainable life. 

Information Architecture

I learned and practiced a lot about information architecture during the time when we have to rank and organize different functions and features in the system. 

UI Design

I got the chance to practice my UI design during this project. 

What I Could Do Better

Improve The Design

There were still problems appearing during our evaluation and I will work on it to fix the issues. 

Collect More Data About Users' Mental Model

During our evaluation section, it turns out that we have many problems caused by failing to following users' mental models, so we would want to collect more data about it during the interview. 

Defend My Design

I wish I could be more insistent when my design got challenged and had a formal discussion about whether to change my design instead of easily being persuaded or challenged by other ideas. 

Thanks for reading