This project was a chanlenge, a way to test, to improve my skills and to think in a new perspective for a groundbreaking platform, as Craigslist is. My objective was to give to Craigslist community an updated platform to enrich the current user experience. Therefore I have to know the philosophy, the users and the history, through which discovering the strength and weakness of the platform. For this the key was the research that it gaves me the path to achieve a draft solution.

Craigslist is an available American platform in all around the world. It connects people with the objective of giving them the basics to grow up and to lay the foundations for their future.

The home as a directory

Start Point

Keeping in mind that the platform has worked since its creation, I began to analyze what it makes its success.

The platform home is a directory of words, wihtout noticed hierarchy. By selecting one of the words, the platform addresses users to a new view with the word as a filter of the displayed list of items. The information looks like a lack of hierarchy and the value of the platform is hidden.

Despite this mess, the Craiglist founders are experts in the market segmentation, in fact they have done a great job of achieving a useful information architecture and advertisement cataloguing. The words, which they use in cataloguing, helps user to find easily what they are looking for. They use this catalogue in the home, being a huge directory where all the architecture is displayed at first glance. Nevertheless mobile application has a better structure of the contents.

The success of the unusual

Quick check

Next step, which I felt necessary, was a check of my understanding. I used a part of the Jacob Nielsen’s heuristic and I got to this conclusions:

  • The url is ease to remember, because is the platform name.
  • The services, which craigslist provides, are displayed in an accurate way, but it doesn’t display the content. So It isn’t clear what it is about.
  • The general structure isn’t focus on the user, because there aren’t hierarchies and the categories are mixed with links.
  • The platform style is simple, it uses the link color and neutrals. This identity supports the platform philosophy of freedom, because it isn’t under any personal brand color. The style is clear and simple.
  • The framework doesn’t follow the mental patterns that we have nowadays.
  • It’s a dynamic platform, in which users create the content and the community set up the platform.
  • The massive menu produces a visual overload and some of the links take user to empty pages.

The home as a direcotry

Users

Before sketching I need to have an idea of who will use the platform. I usually draft user prototypes in my mind or in a paper. I used to think how user will react to the new feature and how this hypothetical experience will adapt to the interface. Afterwards testing with users.

In Craiglist, in a general perspective, there are two main users: the applicants (A) and the biddings (B). Both attend the platform because of necessity, and both can be on the other side. A quick draft of this profiles:

A

MANUEL is the owner of a little company, which use Craigslist to publish openings. He also use the platform to sell things or to buy a second hand vehicle  for its business.

B

JUAN is an enterprising person, who needs to publish what they do. His objective is to be hired and to make a living by doing what he likest. He usually searches job openings and he usually offers his services.

Looking around

References

At this point a quick benchmark is necessary. Looking other players, which are intermediaries in the trade of services or goods between the users or users and platform. With the target of:

  • To analyze how the user experience is.
  • To know what and how they reinforce their values in the home.
  • To know how they highlight the section to incite users.
  • To underline what they do to achieve exchange activity.
  • To look how they adapt the experience in mobile.

I focussed on platforms with a big catalogue and long distance company like: Amazon, Wallapop, Vibbo,  Evenbrite, Meetup, Airbnb or Milanuncios.

I concluded that their principal tool, which is the starting point of the user experience, is the search engine. The home is also complemented by direct access to the main categories, best sellers, most popular goods or suggestions based on user’s experience using the platform.

Most of then also use the image, a phrase that summaries platform values, they delegate to the top area management actions (the login, Faqs, help or company information) and they focus user attention on the main tasks.

Making visible

Home design

The proposal, after a small study of the current home, the brand identity, its philosophy and taking a look to its other platforms (blog, events and foros, is based on the following principles, which I defined,:

CLARITY

The proposal keeps the simplicity that Craigslist has, using a limited color palette from the current platform. The clarity is also present in the placement of elements to achieve consistency and smoothness.

ESSENCE

In Craigslist the word is the essence of the communication. In addition there aren’t icons and there is a reduced use of images.  Therefore I decided to combine negative spaces and font sizes to revitalize the home, and keeping its characteristic link color.

COMMUNITY

The community is the main content creator of the platform, who post the announcements, generate discussions throught the foro or ask for help. The tools that allows this different ways of communications, each one, I placed it in the main menu as a direct and clear access.

The key point of this platform, and what it sets the platform up, is the cataloguing. In light of this fact and the purpose to find something, the cataloguing becomes part of the search process.

Sketching

At the end of this research I concluded in a first visual draft where community channels are accessible in the header, search takes the directory role and the home turns to the trigger of its main activity.