LettinGo is a service to make decluttering a less intimidating prospect that consists of two primary elements: an app which breaks down decluttering tasks and a pick-up service for the decluttered items.
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As we move through our lives, we accumulate stuff along the way; by buying, keeping and being gifted it. We are encouraged to buy and accumulate as much stuff as possible with tactics such as one-press buy buttons and marketing that portrays products as an extension of ourselves. As a reaction against this, movements such as minimalist living, low/no buy challenges and popular organization gurus such as Marie Kondo have cropped up encouraging people to buy and/or keep less stuff.
Many apps and online communities help with sharing resources and minimizing consumption—Zipcar falls into this category. There are also Facebook and Reddit no-buy/share groups where people will share items within the group. Facebook Marketplace and Goodwill are examples of organizations taking the effort to facilitate the exchange of preowned goods.
Our project group was less interested in helping people get less stuff, since we saw many apps and online communities with that aim in mind. Instead we wanted to focus on the after: once you had too much stuff, what do you do?
People are overwhelmed by an accumulation of items in their homes that they no longer want or need. How do we help them tackle the process of decluttering without draining them physically, mentally, and emotionally in the process?
How did you feel when you first started to tackle decluttering? Did you have a plan in place?
If you have been putting off of decluttering, what prevented you from decluttering in the first place?
“With decluttering… I preferred to do it myself - a little bit at a time every week.”
Interview Subject #2
“On the surface it doesn’t seem bad, once you go into cabinets, etc. it becomes more overwhelming.”
Interview Subject #1
“I want to do it (declutter)... but then I think of the time (it takes) and then I think of other things I should be doing...”
Interview Subject #2
We had a six week timeline to design a service. This meant that we had about a week to do secondary research while also zeroing in on a problem space. Originally we wanted to focus on hoarding as an issue but with further research into the subject we learned that hoarding is a mental health condition. We felt that it was unlikely we’d come up with an adequate intervention within our available timeframe—especially since none of us had mental health training or personal experience with the issue. Instead we decided to focus on the run of the mill clutter that most people have in their lives. Each group member did a quick literature review focusing on areas such as the no-buy movement, the sharing economy, consumerism, and existing decluttering resources.
Again, as an outcome of our limited timeline, we allocated less time for primary research: with three interview subjects total. Each explained their experience with decluttering. We recruited participants through the snowball method starting from friends, family or classmates. We asked questions in 6 areas:
1) Understanding how they feel about their stuff, and what the actual issue is (too much stuff? Not enough space? Not enough time to declutter?)
2) Understanding what their goals might be
3) Understanding what they would want to declutter themselves
4) Understanding what the barriers are to decluttering
5) Understanding if they would want someone else to help them declutter
6) If they did declutter, how often
The key reasons people cite for wanting to do a low-buy or no-buy year are economic, environmental and lastly wellness
People want to save money and time - this might deter them from using expensive decluttering services
People also want the experience to be fun or at least satisfying in some way
Attachment to goods may be an inhibiting factor in access-based consumption (such as the sharing economy)
They keep things because they believe it will be used in the future but not have a specific purpose in mind
We had a myriad of insights which we gathered all throughout our research process—both primary and secondary. However, since we were narrowing our scope as we went along, not every insight was relevant for our final outcome. The insights shown here are those had pertained to our final product and that ultimately effected our design process.
Our primary stakeholder group was originally those who were 65+ and older. After some feedback and internal discussion, we decided to expand our stakeholder group.
- Accumulated a lifetime of goods
- Has disposable income to use for service
- Declutter and organize
- Not feel overwhelmed
- Save money versus using other similar services
- Do it (mostly) by themselves
- Live more simply or downsize
- Not burden family or friends with their help
- A sense of anxiety sourced from their clutter
- Overwhelmed by task at hand
- Frustrated by their own procrastination
- Wary of strangers coming in and doing it
- Cost of getting someone in to help
- Dreading allocating the time and energy to deal with the task at hand
About two weeks in, we hadn’t zeroed in on a decluttering service. We were still oscillating between that and a product for preserving heirlooms and physical objects digitally. They both stemmed from the same problem area—mitigating object accumulation—but they tackled it from different angles.
Decluttering services, obviously, help with the process of giving unneeded things away. The solutions we came up with varied. One concept was a recycling service which would reimagine or fix old items to make them usable or new again. Another was a monthly service which would send boxes for people to fill with unwanted items which would then get picked up again by our service.
We were also interested in preserving heirlooms because, while researching, we found that a big motivation people had for holding onto items was for sentimental reasons. We knew people wanted to hold sentimental items in some way so we thought of alternative ways to preserve an object's memories without preserving their physical form. For example, one concept was a VR family museum where items would be 3d scanned and then added into a virtual museum that family members could visit anywhere.
In the end, we decided that a decluttering service would be the most usable and desirable solution for our primary stakeholders.
Family Item Sharing
Organizing & Storage
Our Final Solution was LettinGo which combines the power of an app with additional, add-on services. LettinGo, as a service, consists of three main components: ordering kits, modules, and the pick-up/tracking phase. For a clearer picture of LettinGo, here is a link to view the video from the beginning.
To start the pickup process, the user can choose to order kits to make things easier.
The kits include stickers/tag sets so you don’t need to write, sell, donate, or give on boxes. And the user can also order crates in case they don’t want to deal with boxes. Organizing sets, bins, dollies, and label makers rentals are also offered.
These items get dropped off by the delivery person.
Visualizations of the kit items, there are the donation and organization bins (shown on the left). There are the labels which come with the bins (bottom left) which the user also gets and can use to table their bins. They can also use the labels with other, non-bin boxes if they desire.
The top left screen is an example of the homepage. There it lists all the rooms that the user has started decluttering. By clicking "see all rooms" they can see a more detailed view of their room progress.
The "All Rooms" screen consists of rooms, or what we called modules. A module is essentially an instruction guide on how to declutter a house. It includes both video and text instructions. Before starting modules, users will first finish an assessment asking for information about their decluttering preferences, number/type of rooms in their house and their ideal timeline.
We found in our initial interviews that just getting started and planning was one of the hardest parts of decluttering, so these modules were created to help alleviate that burden.
The app will generate the tasks for each module on the screen. Modules also have submodules.
Modules breakdown further into submodules for more granular information on how a task should be completed.
For example, the clothing module for the bedroom further breaks down into smaller categories —such as shirts and then it will tell you step-by-step how to organize all your shirts.
A submodule task might say something like: first go through all the shirts and pick 10 of your favorites.
Then continue on until the user has gone through all their closet.
The app breaks down the overwhelming task of decluttering into smaller chunks with modules and submodules to make it easier to get started and less frustrating to continue.
When the user is ready for item pick-up, for example at the end of a module, there is a direct link on the menu to get to the pick-up screen. Pick-up is an additional add-on service which is available for a fee. Most likely, price conscious users will not be using this service.
Here, the user can select a pick-up address, what size vehicle they need, pick-up time (which allows for the earliest available for a quick response) or they can schedule a time.
Lastly, after placing the pick-up order, users can tack and see additional information on their items:
1) Whether or not it’s still processing, if the driver is on their way over, if their things have been picked-up or not, and when things get dropped off at the locations they selected.
2) They can see their driver’s location at every step in the process.
Build out more add-on services. The app portion of our service is free to use so the majority of the income would be generated through add-on services such as rental dollies, boxes and pick-up. Even though our app was designed to be mostly hands-off, we were thinking of including something like additional mentor services.
We’ve only built out the screens for our primary customer journey so we’d want to build out the rest of the screens for things such as sign-up and for all pick-up options.
We made the decision in the beginning to only focus on the decluttering. So in a way, our service has an expiration date at the end of a decluttering project. This means in order to keep users we’d need them to keep purchasing new items (which we don’t want), instead we thought it would be interesting to eventually create a part of our app which makes users more mindful of what they buy/the items they already have.
While we did think through our business model with a Lean Canvas, we still want to find other sources of income outside of add-on services. But we also don't want to drive away customers.