Carousell: UX case study

Shannen Lee
10 min readMar 13, 2018


Carousell is a simple way to sell the clutter in your life and find great deals to save you cash! List something for sale in 30 secs and buy what you need in a chat. (Carousell)

Why redesign Carousell app?

I have decided to become a minimalist, and I have too many possessions. I was just throwing away my unused things, and my friend said, “What? They are totally new and trendy! Give them to me!”. She could get stuff for free and I felt so great when I was being nice (a rare situation🤣). I gave many of my stuff away to my other friends, but some expensive and real new stuff I couldn’t just give away. So why not sell them at a reasonable price? This is how I installed Carousell on my iPhone. And yes, I just couldn’t sit down and use the app as itself.

Let me say something nice first:

  1. Adding some 💵 to my bank account.
    This is not a large amount of money (depends on what you sell), but it’s still a much better way getting rid of things than just throw way or give others. I can make at least a few dollars with a few clicks away.
  2. Get stuff at a cheaper price.
    Situations like; when I don’t want to pay a huge amount for a product which I’ll use temporarily, or when I will just stay in a city for a few months and so on.
  3. Environmental conservation.
    It may sound too far or you don’t agree with me. I believe it helps us to preserve the environment at some points anyhow. I highly value the concept of Carousell.

(Hey, peeps! Here are reasons why you should use it!!)

Where was I struggling..

When I met Carousell for the first time, unfortunately, it made me confused from the beginning. As a UI designer (who wants to become a UX designer), I wanted to improve its UX. I chose those two flows:

  1. On boarding; sign up.
  2. Listing a product as a seller and editing.

Here is my internal dialogue (Please don’t laugh..)

Done! Took me 4 mins 10 sec. Now I am selling a bag! Haha.

My redesign objectives are..

  1. Eliminate the confusing moments and solve for pain points.
  2. Attract users in a clean manner at a first glance.
  3. Prompt action.

My Design Process

I used IDEO’s human-centered design thinking process.

Empathize with users

Carousell members can be simply categorized into two groups. Seller and buyer. I created some stories of sellers with assumptions and I interviewed real users too.

As a seller…

  • I am relocating to another city, I need to sell my belongings in a few weeks. I am not really interested in earning money. I just need to get rid of them as soon as possible.
  • I bought a bag online. The bag is not the design and color which I expected. I’m too lazy to return the item. I don’t care about losing some dollars. I just want to sell it in an easy way.
  • I make some fabric stuff such as a small pouch, a pin, etc. I like to try to sell them not only as my hobby. I could be a famous designer.

Questions on selling in general

I asked some general questions to get ideas about the user’s selling behaviors. Conversations were really great. I got to know about my friends more and met new people too.

Big thanks to the kind souls for allowing me to interview.

Guerrilla Usability Testing

After the interview, I asked them to list one item on Carousell.

You are trying to sell Louis Quatorze sunglasses. You decided to use Carousell to sell for the first time. You don’t wear them often, so you want to sell them before they look old. Its original price was $200, used for 6 months.
Listing sunglasses on Carousell.. 🕶

What they did/said/thought..

Affinity Mapping

Defining the Problem

I decided to tackle the five pain points that were both important to users and Carousell. I redefined the pain points below.

Pain Point 1: Welcome screen
There are two types of people; those who care about their private information and those who do not. Personally, I don’t really much care, and before I conducted this project I assumed people would continue to use the service with Facebook. I was wrong. (This is why we should ask and listen how others actually think. Not assume!) Plus, no one really reads the introduction pages on the first step.

  • Users are not able to sign up with Google.
  • No one reads its introduction

Pain Point 2: Having difficulty on choosing the right category
They searched, chose one category, went back to the previous page, and changed the category. At the end 6 users found the right category (2 users chose non-specific category), but 5 out of 8 users faced challenges on finding and choosing the right category. I take this step seriously as we don’t sell or buy flowers at a butcher shop. I want to make the flow seamless through a better design; a little bit easier, more scalable, and more accessible to the sellers who use Carousell frequently.

Current flow: List sunglasses on Carousell
Writing down while watching task video.

I watched task videos of my interviewees several times more to examine. The ways users listing the item were all different, I found out some common patterns below.

  • No match for “Sunglasses” found when users searched for a categeory.
  • Trying to find a category or sub-category for sunglasses is confusing and difficult.

Pain Point 3: Users couldn’t find the ‘edit’ button easily
This part seems even more confusing than choosing the right category. Actually it was the funniest step for me while observing the users. Two of them literally explored the whole app and every screen. I’d like to share what one of them exactly said. He just wanted to change a price of an item and I was crying from laughter.

“(Explored for a few seconds) Well,, I guess the price will just stay the same. I will give up my life. I hope somebody just buys it. Because you know my children have to eat. Umm,, (Exploring more and more..) Oh!! That’s it? Why doesn’t it say ‘Edit’? That’s ridiculous!”

and I decided to redesign its ridiculous ‘Edit’ button, so he will be able to sell his sunglasses and his children will eat something 🍔🍟🍿 in 10 years (He has no children at the moment though). And common patterns are below.

  • Users expected to find a way to edit when they clicked on ‘Three dots’ button.
  • Users tried to find the edit button in text on the item listing page.
  • Users expected to see the “three dots” button on the item listing page as well.

Pain Point 4: Feeling confused about ‘Promote’ feature (5/8 users)
Many of my interviewees found the coin promotion downright annoying and clutter. In the face of limited time and attention, everything that’s not part of the solution must go. I want to make promote screen scan-friendly.

  • Users expected to see the item they just listed.
  • Users didn’t know how to move forward.
  • Users didn’t understand Carousell coins.
Some sound harsh. Sorry!

Pain Point 5: Changing photo sequence on the choosing category page
Most of my interviewees didn’t take many photos of the item, average took 3 photos. So they didn’t need or had no chance to change photo arrangement. However, personally I find this step interesting as I take and post pictures a lot when I sell something in general. I’m sure there are better or efficient ways.

  • Users tried to change the cover image on the item listing page.
  • Users tried to rearrange photo sequence on the item listing page.

Ideating the Solution

Jumping into the sketching stage, I looked at other apps to apply and get some ideas. I came up with a few potential solutions to each of the pain points and draw rough UI sketches.

The sketching stage

Usability Testing 01

I created the Lo-Fi UI mockup of my proposed solutions using Sketch and used InVision to make a clickable prototype. I tested the prototype with 6 new interviewees and each took around 20 minutes (6 tasks).

Some of wireframes
Today, you are Emily and you have used sunglasses that you would like to sell. Your friend told you about an app called Carousell where you can sell your items fuss free so you decided to try it.
Usability Testing with Emily❤️

Validation the Prototype

Affinity Mapping

Pain Point 1: Welcome screen
Adding one more Google sign up button was not the difficult issue. After all, users still didn't like to read reviews or just ignore them.

  • Users thought the reviews can be made up. (3/6)
  • Users wanted to experience the services directly without reading them. (3/6)

Pain Point 2: Having difficulty on choosing the right category

  • Users selected the suggested category. (4/6)
  • Users didn’t notice “Search for a category”. (2/6)
  • Users thought “Search for a category” looks disabled. (2/6)

Pain Point 3: Users couldn’t find the ‘edit’ button easily

  • The overall experience of editing was easy. (5/6)
  • Users were not sure when they updated the change. (2/6)

Pain Point 4: Feeling confused about ‘Promote’ feature

  • Users expected to see what they just listed. (5/6)
  • Users knew how to move forward. (6/6)
  • Users thought ‘View my listing’ is for the product page they just uploaded. (5/6)
  • User thought ‘Browse Carousell’ is the page for searching what they want to buy. (3/6)

Pain Point 5: Changing photo sequence on the choosing category page

  • Changing the order of photo was easy. (5/6)
  • User struggled to change the sequence. (1/6)
  • Users tried to drag the photo to change its order. (6/6)
  • Showing numbers on photos is confusing. (1/6)

Additional task 1 : The required field pop up layer before the listing screen

  • Users thought it’s like an alert or a problem. (3/6)
  • Users expected to type on the pop up layer. (3/6)

Additional task 2: Sharing listing on social media

  • Users thought sharing experience was straightforward. (6/6)
  • Users don’t really share in real life. (5/6)
  • Sharing via Whatspp or Wechat much nicer than other social media platforms. (2/6)

Usability Testing 02

As I found some problems and ideas after usability testing. I decided to improve the prototype. I tested the new prototype with 4 interviewees.

Final wireframes and testing. Thanks to Teo, Eliza, Lily and Akanksha for being Emily.


You can also check out my prototype here. Before you use the prototype please read this.

Thanks for reading!

This case study taught me lots of things such as finding problems, asking right questions, observing people while conducting usability testing, solving problems, etc. I truly enjoyed all moments while implementing. Even if my solutions may seem like small changes, I believe very small changes could have great effects.

If you want to collaborate, talk about UX design, or just want to chat, email to me or connect via LinkedIn.

Thanks to Ahmed for his advice and review on my first UX case study.

Note: I do not work for, nor am I affiliated with, Carousell. I did this UX case study as I wanted to build my UX design skill and Carousell is one of my favourite products. I did this case study in February 2018, so some screens and flows can be different.



Shannen Lee

Product Designer at Acronis