Adae was a P2P marketplace web startup I co-founded. It was based in Toronto, and our team sought to create a versatile platform for people to offer goods and services, without having to worry about exchanging cash when meeting in person.

How Might We:
Leverage people's frustrations with being scammed when buying/selling using cash.

Create a platform and app that will attract users to adopt for payments.

Create a secure system where we can remotely check if two people have made a transaction.

My Role:
Co-founder, Product Designer, Front End Web Developer.

Created, tested, and implemented designs from mockup to code, self-tested business/growth strategies in the field.

First, the final design! Then I'll show you how we arrived at this solution.

or jump to the process + design decisions now
View Research Decisions

Research Process

Due to monetary and time constraints, our team did not implement primary research. We performed a competitive analysis of other marketplace apps, did guerilla research at Starbucks, and also thought about our own experiences.

We discovered that other similiar apps all used physical cash.

We had thought about Renting items, however after our research it seemed that it was not a viable choice: many renting websites were defunct, and people we talked to were extremely skeptical.

View Ideation Decisions


What can Adae offer to potential users.

We wrote down all the core possibilities of things that Adae can provide.

We didn't want to invest a lot of time into making something that wouldn't be useful.

We realized in order to make our system secure, we had to figure out a way to check user transactions remotely.

View Implementation Decisions


We went straight into Hi-Fi production to deploy our product as quick as possible, and decided to pivot based on user response.

Adae will be 2 parts: a functional, user friendly website, and a companion app that handles in-person cash-less transactions.

Creating the Companion App for Secure Transactions

The companion app's core feature is a QR code unique to each transaction that users will scan with the in-app scanner when they meet in person.

Each scan tells us that the two users (ex. buyer & seller) indeed met in person, and have completed a transaction.

The scan also doubles as payment: it sends money directly to the user's Adae account.

The QR scanning in our mind would eliminate fraud or scams, and can be used as evidence in the event of disputes.

Coincidentally we discovered each scan was also timestamped, which provided another layer of security.

Creating Adae's initial core UI.

Parallel to the Companion App's development, we were also iterating the most important parts of the Adae web platform.

Our "Home Feed" shows a list of current posts and their locations on a map, as well as "Shout Outs" which are posts that asks for items/services from users.

We thought that having a small preview of each listing and show it beside a map can help users find local listings quicker and easier.

We still tried renting items as our first iteration just to see what would happen and if it would validate our research, as it would eventually turn out, renting was unpopular and ineffective amongst new users

This is what we called the Item Page, where a service or things for sale can be listed. This is how it looked pre-deployment.

Creating the Website Payment UX

This was the most important part of Adae and the website, and it leads directly from the Item Page. I'll talk about how it works in this section, and then detail how it performed when we deployed it for the first few times in the Final Design section.

The buyer would first select the amount they would like to purchase, and then add their credit card information to send the request to the seller.

At this stage, Adae will safekeep the money and only charge the buyer when his/her request is accepted. The buyer's money will only be transferred when he scans the seller's QR code in person.

This process was the only feasible way to technically incorporate our payment system into the QR Code Scanning safety feature.

The buyer will be taken to a chat page, where both parties can work out the details. Afterwards, the seller would accept the request and they will proceed to meeting offline.

When they meet in person, they will pay with the QR code scan using the companion app to complete the transaction. This is then timestamped and stored in our database.

Final Design & Results

When we deployed to the public for the first time, we had to do most of the heavy lifting and legwork ourselves. At the beginning, almost all of our listings were made by our own 5-man team. Regardless, seeing real people use Adae allowed us to make many final changes up until the end.

Click to See an Archived, Live Version of Adae!
Email: [email protected]
Password: 12345678

Final Changes

Right away we noticed people would sign up and not do anything after they followed our ads on Facebook and Craigslist, so we decided to add a "Send Message" Button to each Item Page.

Based on behaviors we observed on other marketplace apps, we believed that people want to talk with the seller before making any commitments.

After this change was made, sign up rates and transaction rates increased, and every new user always contacted the seller first before requesting a service/product.

Here's a summary of what I personally contributed in this project:

What I Did

Designed the UI and UX of the website and app, coded the front end as well.

Pivoted multiple times with the team after each major deployment.

Rolled up my sleeves and took on promotional challenges head on, even if it meant sneaking posters in condos or handing out fliers on the street.

What I Learned

As the sole designer of my team, I greatly improved my visual design skills and learned how to fine tune web UI using code.

Be willing to change. A startup product must find a way to pivot and adapt, or fail!

Trying out various methods to promote our app was a humbling experience. Hoping your product will take off overnight is simply too naive.

Here are some more projects of mine

uCare Mobile App
A mobile health app for elderly care coordination.
What Lurks in the Dark
An audience participation horror game, integrated with Twitch.
Interactive Web Prototype
Web prototype of a To-Do List app to show my web prototyping skills.
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