OfferUp – Hold Offer redesign

OfferUp is the largest mobile marketplace. People can buy and sell locally easily. OfferUp launched Hold Offer to support in-app payment. Buyers can secure that great deal or difficult to find items by committing to an offer in advance with a payment method.

To comply with my non-disclosure agreement, I have omitted and obfuscated confidential information in this case study. All information in this case study is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of OfferUp.

Users said:

“Easiest way to secure the item.”-A buyer

Give a trust of buying for seller. Set the price and no cash handle. More safety in private buy &sell” -A buyer

I know the buyer is serious” – A seller

Easy to use, convenient, cashless” – A seller


My Role

Sole UX designer

Who I work with

Product manager, UX researchers, Content strategist, Engineers, Data analyst, Customer experience team

Project length

10 months (2018/10-2019/08)

Project size



Launched in June 2019 nationwide and got positive feedbacks from users

About OfferUp

  • Largest mobile marketplace in the US
  • 280+ employees
  • 4.8 stars / 2.7M ratings in App Store, 4.6 stars / 741k ratings in Google Play

Challenge: Ramp it up nationwide

I got the task to ramp up the V1 Hold Offer to nationwide. As a new product feature, it was born with both imperfections and potentials. The goal was to remove the needle as much as we can, launch it nationwide, and let the magic happen.

The high-level goals are:

  1. Make it simple, easy to everyone who wants to buy and sell locally
  2. Monitor metrics and improve completion rate


As a C2C product, there are 4 metrics we are looking at:

  1. Acceptance rate, decline rate, expiration rate
  2. Completion rate
  3. Engagement rate
  4. Retention rate

Design principles

  • Simple and easy
  • Trust and safety


1. Understand


NPS survey

Competitor analysis

2. Design

Design sprint



3. Research


Usability studies

A/B testings

4. Evaluate & repeat

Launch features incrementally

Understand problems

/ How do I learn

1. Qualitatively

  • In-person interviews: Collaborated with UX researchers, created prototypes for studies
  • Chat thread dig up: Reading chat thread from database and learn why people didn’t complete the transaction.
  • Talk with real customers: I sold 67 items, bought 11 items on OfferUp.
  • Online usability studies: UX researchers will help me to run usability studies on (I conducted 20+ rounds of testings when I don’t have research resources.)

2. Quantitatively

  • Metrics: for data tracking(acceptance rate, completion rate, engagement rate, retention rate)
  • NPS survey & CSAT survey: UX researcher sent surveys to users and got 507 responses
  • A/B testing: Usually for validation, PM & Business analyst will set up Leanplum tests

Problem 1: Buyers are using basic pay for wrong scenarios.

Example feature 1: QR code pay

/ Problem

People don’t know they need to complete transactions in app when they meet up.

  • 32% of buyers are using it before the meetup
  • 22% of buyers are using it for shipping

/ Design tenets

Based on usability studies, personas, and competitor analysis, here are 4 tenets I came up with:

  • Intuitive: Seller scan buyers is more intuitive than buyer scan seller
  • Transparent: Both seller and buyer need to understand how much money they are getting and paying
  • Flexible: Buyer should be able to negotiate when they meet up
  • Tolerant: If they forget to release payment in the meetup, they can finish the transaction later without having to meet up.

/ Use flow

/ Iterations


  • I partnered with my PM to run an in-person usability study
  • Our team ran a company-wide dogfood

I did in-person usability study: A screenshot of my Hangouts Meeting video

/ Final design

/ Impacts

Based on our NPS survey results, both buyers and sellers think it’s extremely easy to use.

“It was the first time for me and the seller to use this feature, but it was easy to use and was successful.”

“I had someone come and purchase something from me using the barcode to pay. It was quick and easy and great!!”

Problem 2. Lack of commitment

Feature 2: No-show protection

(Feature size: XL)

Next step, I designed no-show protection to drive more commitment.

Competitor analysis: To understand what drives more commitment, I worked with UX researcher to conduct competitor analysis including Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, Booking, Opentable.

Design sprint: To generating ideas quickly, I partnered with our UX researcher to facilitate a one-day design sprint within the team. Instead of getting people together for 5 days, we did lightning talks, HMW(how might we), Crazy 8s’, Sketch and vote in one day.

Usability study: To figure out people’s mental model, the flow, and usability, I worked with two UX researchers to run 2 rounds of usability studies.

/ Design sprint

/Design tenets

Based on the results from the NPS survey and usability study, I came up with 3 design tenents:

  1. We give sellers the choice to charge a $5 fee or not. Their judgment is fair enough to make sure buyers are happy with the results.
  2. If the sale expires after 6 days, buyers need to confirm the reason why they let the sale expired. If it’s the buyer’s fault, sellers can choose to charge the $5 fee.
  3. Punishment can’t happen before education. If users don’t know how to use this feature, we can’t punish them.

/ Final design

Problem 3. Lack of value

Feature 3: Chat components

(Feature size: L)

I designed a new set of chat components to show the value upfront for users.


  1. Competitor analysis: Componentize analysis
  2. Usability study: Both in-person and remotely

/ Final design




  • Ramped up Hold Offer to nationwide on June 2019
  • Buyer’s satisfaction: 8.47/10
  • Seller’s satisfaction: 7.47/10

It’s the latest attempt by the well-heeled startup to differentiate its 8-year-old mobile marketplace from competitors, including Craigslist, eBay and Facebook Marketplace. 

Hold Offers improve the buyer-seller experience by giving sellers assurance that the buyer is serious, and provide both parties with the convenience and safety of integrated digital mobile payments.

“But for the first time since launching in 2011, OfferUp wants to add in-person digital payments for items bought and sold through its mobile app, aiming to solve pain points for buyers and sellers anxious about closing local deals.”

Project Details

Date: April 10, 2019

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