Teaching people to be good sellers

Release: June 2018 (iOS & Android)
My Role: Sole Designer on the Sellers team

Imagine this..

It’s midweek in the evening and you’ve decided that you want to try listing on Depop after hearing about it from a friend. You list your item and your profile looks something like this. Not much engagement happens at first so in time you stop coming back to the Depop app. A buyer eventually messages you about your item but you’ve since deleted the app so you never realise. This was the persona of many new sellers on Depop. At the time we provided little advice on how to be good sellers.

This left the platform full of inactive shops with unsold items.

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New sellers are completely unaware of key pieces of information and actions they should take in order to be successful – this has resulted in a plethora of poor quality listings & shops on Depop.

Our hypothesis was that if we educate users on how to be successful sellers, we will shorten the time it takes for a new seller to make their first sale and therefore see less abandoned shop profiles.


What makes someone more likely to sell on Depop?

Historically we know that having a completed profile helps our users sell faster (it helps to build trust with potential buyers and shows them that sellers are real people)

Having good images of items also helps people sell faster on Depop & is often the difference between low-mid volume & high volume sellers.


Using data to validate what makes a good image

Anecdotally, we know that natural light and creative photography makes a good image, but to validate this we worked with the Machine Learning team to find out which factors actually make an item sell faster.

4 ML models and 467k images later, we found that items that sell fastest..

  1. have a range of different photos (modelled both on a person, a hanger or flatlay)
  2. include up close shots showing details
  3. been shot in natural light

We also found that..

The majority of sellers list items with 1-2 images, but items listed with 4 images are three times more likely to sell than items listed with only 1 image.


Setting some design principles

After validating what makes a good photo, I paired with my PM to create some design principles. These would tell us how we should design the seller education experience. They’re also great to keep us level headed.

We shared them with the rest of the team and the ones we decided on were:

Be where the user is


Keep it simple

Let users fail


Being where the user is

This principle was about showing education contextually as opposed to it being hidden behind lots of links or in a help centre article somewhere. After speaking with new sellers, I mapped out a typical journey and worked out the key opportunities to educate the seller.


Keep it simple

This principle was about speed and simplicity, we wanted to make it fast and easy for a new seller to sell their first item and become an ‘activated seller’. This meant doing some of the tasks that seem like paperwork but are proven to help you sell faster. These were:

  1. adding a shop photo
  2. adding a bio
  3. linking your profile to a website
  4. setting up Paypal and a billing address

I created an onboarding style flow taking them through these tasks and explored different options through user testing.

I concluded with a single option that felt fast yet still guiding – & paired down enough for users to concentrate on the task they were trying to complete.

I decided to keep the helper text dynamic, to make the task seem less tedious and pre-filled text where possible to provide hints and increase efficiency.

To give new sellers the best shot from the outset, we decided placed the entry point before listing your first item rather than after. This meant first time sellers wouldn’t be able to list without setting up their shop.



This principle was about creating avenues for our community to educate and learn from each other, rather than Depop telling you what to do. This principle not only led me to use real examples from our community in the setup shop onboarding. But also, when it came to showing sellers how to take good photos.
We knew from working with the ML team, what truly made a good photo. So we made sure to include photos from our community that showed that.

I explored and prototyped different ways that we could communicate this to our sellers. We needed to show a range of images, in different styles to encourage new sellers to be individual with their approach. At the same time, we didn’t want to show too much information and overwhelm the user.

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I also decided to replace the helper text with playful tiles that showed different tips.

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Let users fail

When educating, sometimes it’s important to let your users fail. When it’s a pre-anticipated failure, it can end up providing a good opportunity to teach and learn. Letting users fail, also prevents products from feeling overbearing.

We chose this principle hoping that it’ll guide us towards an experience that lets a user explore, they might fall – but we’d always be there to catch them.

An embodiment of this principle was the logic behind a banner telling sellers to list with 4 photos, I decided for this to only show when a user had uploaded less than 3 photos. That meant that only the sellers who needed the guidance would see the message.


I also played around with how we show this message. We veered away from tooltips because oftentimes users can unknowingly dismiss them, even just out of habit. Since it was only going to be shown to users who needed the information – we went for a bolder option, and animated it ever so slightly, to draw the users attention to it.

The entire experience

These small tweaks contributed to an entire experience educating a new seller at key points of their journey, guiding them to their first sale.


Was it successful?

We first ran the nudge message as an A/B test and then rolled it out when it proved to get users listing with 4 images. It continues to encourage new sellers today alongside image quality examples.

We saw a notable increase in complete profiles after releasing the set up shop onboarding flow, we also saw an increase in GMV and sales per seller. Additional to this, data showed that new sellers were selling their first item faster than before we introduced the flow.