Designing first mobile app for pawnshops at PawnGuru

product manager
View Prototype 👉🏽
My Role
Product Manager & UX Designer
Toshi Gupta, Joanne Kim, Joanna Ye
Lulu Guo, Muzi Lin
4 months (Aug 2019 - Dec 2019)
Adobe XD, Photoshop, Illustrator
Core responsibilities
  • As a product manager, drafted the timelines to deliver research and designs
  • Design user work flows and redo the information architecture of the current desktop application
  • Collaboratively worked with pawnshops, developers at Pawnguru and the UX researchers
A pawnbroker/pawnshop is an individual or business that offers secured loans to people, with items of personal property used as collateral. The items having been pawned to the broker are themselves called pledges or pawns, or simply the collateral.

Pawnguru, an ann arbor based startup, is a web-based desktop platform that connects users to various pawnshops in their local areas to access quick credit. A customer puts in a request to sell/pawn an item that reaches the various nearby pawnshops via pawnguru's platform. 
Design a mobile application prototype for pawnshop owners that meets the goal of engaging well with customers online with their work routine, thus increasing the number of deals they close.
But did the pawnshops need a mobile application at all?
We interviewed 4 pawnshop owners who were the users of the Pawnguru desktop platform. To make sure we cover various geographical locations we performed on-site interviews with pawnshops in Dearborn(Michigan) and Brighton(Michigan) and two on-call interviews with users in Florida and Georgia.

After performing the qualitative analysis using the concept of affinity walls, we came up with our key themes and insights. They looked something like this:
Our team in the affinity wall analysis in our UX Lab
Major themes
We deduced that the majority of pawnshop owners need a more ubiquitous platform that helps them to be more connected with the online customers with simplified experience to easily navigate through their tasks!
The pawnguru app had three main workflows which were incorporate in the mobile design:
Before moving to prototyping the flows, our team did analysis on existing user flows
Paper prototyping
Since this was a product observation based community, I drew inspirations from different social platforms and online communities. I also wanted to use the hypothesis done in the previous steps to decide what kind of pattern I want to use for posting observations
Usability testing of the paper prototypes
Final prototypes
We built the paper prototypes of each flow meticulously with all the important feedback and details. The paper prototypes were then tested by the peers at the School of information.
Critical design decisions
We built the paper prototypes of each flow meticulously with all the important feedback and details. The paper prototypes were then tested by the peers at the School of information.
Team and Role
My role
Toshi Gupta
Ruchita Lodha
8 Weeks
Dyslexia is a language based learning disorder which is found in 1 in 5 students and kids who have difficulty often avoid reading because it's stressful.
We wanted to use an immersive technology like AR/VR/MR for good together with digital game based learning to enhance the learning experience and help students retain things in a less stressful and playful way.
Problem Statement
To build an accessible learning experience for kids diagnosed with dyslexia between the age of 3-6 years. To help kids be less stressed mentally while learning to read and write alphabets.
Challenges in a classroom setup
There are specific set of challenges faced by dyslexic children in a classroom setup:
1. Manual Learning: Lack of multimedia based interaction to address learnability issues.
2.Individual learning approach: Teachers are less focused on students who have dyslexia in a classroom setup.
3. Less variation in learning: Lack of use of variety of senses such as seeing, hearing, talking, and touching.
Our Solution
To build an augmented reality game-based alphabet learning application for kids between age 3-6 years by augmenting the real world objects around them. The application would help students learn alphabets with phonetics and associated real world objects, identify and differentiate between alphabets and write them.
Why Augmented Reality?
We did a qualitative research on ways and methods adopted to help dyslexic kids learn faster like the Orton Gillingham method and the Wilson Method. We studied the online videos available  for teachers to pick out the key components that are very important while helping in dyslexia.
We realized thats supporting these methods with augmented reality for multi-sensory learning (Kinesthetics, Visual, Tactile, Phonetics) coupled with game based learning would help students get accurate and faster in alphabet identification
User Journey Mapping
Potential users: Kids who find it difficult to read, learn and identify alphabets.
The idea is to build an application that augments the alphabet cards/alphabet book with 3D holograms and support the phonetic learning through sound assistance. It will have 3 main features:
1. Learning about the shape and usage of alphabet
2. Identification of alphabets after learning through games
3. Learning to draw the alphabets through guidance
Lo-Fi Sketches
Introducing JoJo - the voice assistant
‍To help the students engage and navigate better with the learning and games, we introduced a cute animated hippo!
The main reasons behind having a voice assistant are:
1. Help students navigate between different parts of the application
2.Lower the burden of reading instructions for dyslexic kids
3.Give a comfortable learning experience through their "Friend- JoJo"
Technology decisions
1. The application is developed in Unity and tested on an android and iOS mobile device
2. To enable enhancements on a book/alphabet card, we decided to go for a marker-based approach in Vuforia

*This project was carried out during COVID-19 and therefore our plan of enabling the application on Hololens could not go through.
High Fidelity prototype and interactions
2D menu and instructions: The game starts with a 2D menu with an introduction by a friendly assistant JoJo. JoJo guides the user to the different sections of the application like Learn, Play and draw.
You can listen to JOJO's instructions in the final video attached.
Dragging/dropping and success/failure animations: To test students' capability to identify the learned alphabet, they are asked to drag and drop the associated 3D hologram into the ring options. Based on the answer the application reacts gently with animations of right and wrong answer.
Shooting with a ball: For letter identification, the application is supported with physics enabled bowling game. The students' are asked to shoot the associated hologram to the right letter glasses.
The right and wrong answer are distinguished with sounds.
Drawing: The students can reference the drawing technique animation and try drawing with a physical marker.
Final video
Reflection and learnings
  • Designing for diverse user base
    This was an interesting project in my endeavor to understand the population of users who have fair access to technology but have always run their business offline. Understanding their velocity to get on board with ubiquitous devices is a challenging task and I am more eager to delve into this subject.
  • Design decisions based on user demographic
    Challenges while designing a mobile product for the users that do not belong to a very common age range can be very interesting.We had to refrain from adding complicated gestures and actions, help them receive instant notifications on the deal development and make the flow familiar to the existing website so that onboarding on a mobile app is easier for all shop members.