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UX & Service Design

Outwork is an underground flash market for creators to sell their works on the street. Learning from the way vendors on Canal St selling bootlegs, outworks creates an exciting but safe experience for customers to purchase the creation they desire while offering an inclusive place for creators to showcase and sell their creations.

Why pirates?

Before we start, I know you may wonder why I chose to work on a project inspired by bootleg vendors and pirates. Here is the answer.

Pirates are not all bad.

Pirates make things affordable (remember pirate bay and the craked software you used in school?).

Pirates are creative and adventurous (scroll down to see the story of Canal St vendors).

If that's still not convincing enough for you, check out my other projects. I actually did a whole thesis around piracy.

If we want to encourage everyone to be creative, how can we create a space for everyone to show and sell their creation.

Let’s take a look at how pirates in real life are selling their products!

Bootleg vendors on Canal street have their unique way of selling merchandise. To hide from the police, they will print out a menu of fake luxury bags. If any customer is interested in any of the bags, they will go to their vans and pick them up for the customer. During that time, customers will be waiting for them on the street, wondering when they will be back.

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Project Overview


Research Process

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​1. Observation

To understand how Canal St vendors are selling bootlegs, I went to Canal St to observe them and tried to buy bootlegs from one of the vendors. I made a journey map base on my experience.

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Pain Points

  • Buyers have to wait on the street for a long time without knowing when will the vendor be back.

  • First-time buyers are overwhelmed by the process and do not know what to expect. 

  • ​First-time buyers are curious but shy to contact the vendors.


Although this whole process may be scary and overwhelming to first-time buyers, it is also very exciting and adventurous. By making the trading process more clearer and transparent, we will be able to create new adventurous shopping experience.

2.1 Market Research

I used secondary research method to anlysis the current creation trading market to better understand the problem I'm solving.

  • Most art trading platform require creators to be represented by a gallery and will charge a large fee upfront for each art work they upload.

  • Some creators sell their creation on craigslist but are not getting a lot of traffic.

  • Most unestablished artists and creators are struggling to find a place to sell their works.

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2.2 Competitor Analysis

​The Good

  • Artsy is a reputable and trusted online market place.

  • ​Massive network with plenty of visitors.

​The Bad

  • Artsy don't work with individual creators.

  • ​Needs a lot of work to maintain your Artsy profile.

  • ​High investment cost to put your work on Artsy.


​The Good

  • Etsy is one of the most creative online market place.​

  • Etsy has a large user base of more than 39.4 million buyers.

  • Low listing fee.

​The Bad

  • Etsy uses a reoccurring listing fee​ model.

  • Have to pay more to get more search engine visibility. 

  • ​It is time consuming to build a brand on Etsy.

​The Good

  • No listing fee.

  • Easy to upload and manage.

​The Bad

  • Less reliable buyers, more scammers.

  • ​There is no guarantees for buyers to pay.

  • ​Users are anonymous and unverified by the platform.

3. User Interview

​To better understand the need of my user, I went to a spring market and talked to the creators there. Here are some of the top insights I got through user interview.

  • Most creators are lack of marketing channels to promote themselves and need for a place to showcase and sell their creation.

  • Most creators already use Instagram as a marketing channels, but are not getting enough traffic they need.

  • ​Creators are very sensitive about initial investment.

Research -> Opportunity  

How might we transform the anxiety of waiting into excitement and create a memorable experience for buyers and a space for creators to sell their works?


Based on my findings through user interview and observation, I created two user persona to help me ideate for concept.

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I made a storyboard to help my ideate for the user experience using this creative marketplace..


Lisa find out about a cool flash market called Outworks.

Lisa invite her friends to Outworks this weekend..

Lisa use the navigation system on her Outworks App to lead her to the location.

Lisa notice there is a Outworks sticker on the street lamp.


Lisa put on the Outworks sticker she found under the street lamp.

Lisa scan the QR code on the sticker to enter the Outworks market..

Lisa browse through the items and select the items she find interesting.

Lisa and the seller meet up to discuss price and decide if she want to buy..


Information Architecture

Buyer's side APP

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​Buyer side

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​Seller side

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The Experience

How does it work?

In outworks, you will need a code to enter the market. You can find the code through Instagram.

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It will only tell you the rough location of the market. And you will need to use our navigation system to find out the exact location of the market. You will also see stickers on the street to help you navigate the process.

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It will notify your arrival once our GPS senses you have arrived. And you will be seeing stickers telling you here is the entrance.

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Near the entrance, you will see buyer stickers to wear, to show that you are a qualified buyer.

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Then you will start to see stickers with QR codes on them. Once you scan it, it will direct you into the individual seller's marketplace.

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After selecting the items you want to see, you will be directed to a timer showing when the seller will get back to you.

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When they get back, you will be able to identify them by the stickers they are wearing.

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User Testing & Insights

Seller side: 

  • I visited a student market and talked to 10 students selling their own creations. 10 out of 10 students expressed great interest in this market and gave me their contact info for further communication.

  • Sellers are concerned about how will this site attract buyers.

  • I designed an Instagram campaign to address their concerns.

Buyer side:

  • I conducted user testings for concept validation through

  • Some users are concerned about the safety aspect of using this service.

  • To make sure buyers can have a safe experience all sellers will be evaluated before joining. And to make buys feel safe using this service, they can make payments directly through this APP.

Visual System

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