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Bridging the gap between young people and estate sales

Problem Statement: Estate sales (and garage sales) are a great way to get rid of items you longer need or items that belonged to a deceased family member. The problem, however, is that estate sales are fairly hard to find, especially amongst millennials and Gen Z. Estate sales are usually found by newspaper listings but with social media being the main way younger generations get their information, not too many of them know where to find them.

Role: UX Researcher, UI Designer
Timeline: 6 weeks
Platform: Website

Design Challenge: While enrolled in the Black Valley mentorship program, my project that I wanted to put together was a design solution that would help bridge the gap between young people and estate sales.


Current State
Currently, there are a few websites that post about estate sales that are happening, however, these websites are very outdated and not updated often. Here in Canada, it’s a lot harder to find estate sales compared to the US, as there aren’t many resources for Canadians to find out when estate sales are happening. I believe that this is because baby boomers are more familiar with estate sales and are used to finding out about them through reading a newspaper and they haven’t really explored digital options much.

Future State
I hope that shifting estate sales from newspapers to the digital world will not only result in the younger generations taking part in them but also lead to successful estate sales.

How might we make estate sales easier to find, so that a younger generation can attend them?

I want to bridge that gap between estate sales and the younger generation by coming up with a digital solution. Younger generations are genuinely interested in thrifting- if you go onto youtube, you will see tons of videos of young people thrift shopping. However, most aren’t aware of estate sales and you can find a lot of hidden gems at these sales. This also ties into sustainability which a lot of young people are into and estate sales allow old items to find new homes.

I had six weeks to come up with a digital solution, which for me, is the shortest time I’ve had to work on a design challenge. Another constraint would be the older generation (baby boomers) not being open to a digital solution regarding estate sales because they are used to hearing about them through word of mouth or newspaper ads.

Research Methods
-5 user interviews (remotely)
-2 rounds of user testing (two rounds with 5 participates each)

I wanted to do a questionnaire but due to time constraints and whether enough people would fill it out, I opted with one on one interviews.

User Criteria
-lives in North America
-between the ages of 18-35
-avid thrift/vintage shopper

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Key Findings
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-only one user out five knew what an estate sale was
-those who didn’t know were greatly interested in learning more about estate sales and attending them
-most of the users like to plan ahead before thrift shopping, only one liked to go thrifting on a ‘spur of the moment’
-users would prefer a website over a mobile app


Based on my user interviews, I developed a persona that had clear motivations, behaviours, goals and pain-points, in order for me to empathize with the user and find any key opportunities.

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Experience Map

Once I had an understanding of my persona, I created an experience map to see where my persona’s pain points were and how to alleviate them.

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User Journey

I then came up with a few user stories, focusing more on the UI aspect of the digital solution that would help me with my preliminary analog sketches. My core epic would be the user planning an estate sale trip on the website with the user flow being the user navigating through a series of pages.

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For my preliminary sketches, I focused on the flow of the task first and foremost. I did a few analog sketches before settling on the screen sketches I liked the most.

Usability and Testing

To test out the flow of my screens, I created low fidelity wireframes based on the preliminary sketches and had 5 users complete the task. I told them their task was to plan a trip on the estate sale website. I explained to them that they were a millennial professional that enjoys thrift shopping and they are planning on spending next Saturday thrifting and that includes going to a few estate sales. They would log onto the website that they have already completed a profile and the onboarding process, so they would just have to plan a trip. As they completed their tasks, I asked them open-ended questions to see how they were feeling about the process.

A few takeaways from the first round of testing:
‘Instead of having to enter my location into a search bar, I prefer location services to appear on a map with sales close me being shown’
‘Is it possible to shop for these same items online instead of having to go in person?’
‘The task is pretty easy to figure out if you’ve ever used a website before.’

I then made some changes and decided to do mid fidelity screens and then did a second round of testing, this time I got more feedback about the UI and not so much about the flow and functionality.

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Mid Fidelity Screens
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A few takeaways from the second round of testing:
‘The background colour is a bit distracting.’
‘The ‘find a sale’, ‘shop’ and ‘hire a company’ bits don’t need to be big or at the top.’
‘The map with the location and search bar should go above the ‘find a sale’ and other site options as that’s the point of the site.’

Visual Identity
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I had originally wanted to go with a retro 70s sort of feel, especially with the colour scheme, however, the colours I originally planned on using just didn’t work. In order to get a younger generation interested in a site like this, I need to make it modern. I kept it clean with a white background and used small amounts of blue and light green, so that the photos of the vintage items that were on sale would be able to speak for themselves and not have to compete with the background colour or icon colours. The logo is CES which stands for Canadian Estates Sales, is very simple as I’m admittedly not knowledgeable in logo design.

Final Prototype
Home Page
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Listings Page
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Trip Planner
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Search Results
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User Feedback and Next Steps

I showcased this to a few of my users that I had interviewed as they were interested in what the end result would look like. They liked what I had come up with and liked that the website looked clean and was easy to use. They each said that if the website were real, they would definitely use it to go to estate sales and a few of them even said that after speaking with me, they have actually researched estate sales and have been actively seeking them out now!

My next steps would be to continue to flesh out this website, as I feel this is a very niche but great idea and continue to tweak the UI as I continue to improve my design skills.

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