Carwise: A laptop and mobile phone with an image of a car. It shows how the website follows responsive design principles.


This case study explores the purchasing process of a pre-owned car website that offers users an easy way to trade in their current vehicle, obtain extended warranties, receive assistance with financing, and access car insurance options from a third-party vendor.


Product Designer

Brand Creation, User Research, Competitive Analysis, Logo Design Interaction, Visual Design, Prototyping Testing

How Might We?

How might we create a all-in-one website that takes all the stress out of buying a pre-owned car?


First date butterflies.

Interviews & Empathy Maps

interview transcripts

To understand my interviewees’ recent vehicle purchases, I aimed to learn the timeline of their most recent acquisition and gather details on their experiences. Specifically, I probed into any frustrations or pain points they encountered during the search, purchasing, trade-in, financing, or insurance processes.

Additionally, I was curious to discover their ideas for improvement. I asked them to reflect on each step along the car shopping journey—researching makes and models, visiting dealerships, securing financing, finalizing the paperwork, etc.—and share changes they would have liked to see to create a better overall purchasing experience. This line of questioning provided insight into where opportunities exist to streamline, support, or enhance certain aspects of the current car buying paradigm from the consumer’s perspective.

Lucy's Empathy Map
Lucy's Empathy Map

By closely observing and deeply listening to users, I gained insight into their perspectives and experiences through the different stages of their journey. I captured their mindsets, emotions, behaviours and beliefs in empathy maps that allowed me to identify key patterns

Character development.


Lucy's persona and user story

By studying the empathy maps, common themes emerged across user groups. These revealed core motivations and challenges faced by many potential users. Distilling these key attributes allowed me to construct representative personas that captured the essence of the target audiences. These archetypes enabled me to consider the priorities of real users as we made design decisions. Grounding choices in the lived experiences of people 

who would utilize the product brought authenticity to the process. The personas acted as meaningful reminders of whose needs I hoped to serve. This kept me focused on addressing the frustrations and goals that repeated across my research. By continually channelling the wisdom from these synthesized profiles, I could ensure the final product would feel human-centred in both form and function.


Putting a finger on it.

Problem Statement

Lucy's problem statement

By deeply understanding my users’ most significant challenges, I could direct my efforts toward solutions that would have real impact. Clarifying the precise pain points enabled me to envision remedies that reached the heart of their struggles. With the problems clearly defined, I could ideate and innovate with users’ central needs in mind. Their frustrations became the impetus for change. Turning my attention fully to addressing their biggest issues allowed me to apply my skills meaningfully and develop resolutions that would fundamentally improve their experiences. When I knew exactly which obstacles users faced, I could leverage my abilities to eliminate barriers and open new possibilities.

Lucy's problem statement

Setting the bar.

Goal Statement

the homepage of the Carwise website
the homepage of the Carwise website

This website aims to empower all types of car buyers by consolidating the major steps of the purchasing process in one transparent, educational platform. For time-strapped or less auto-savvy users, the site will facilitate trading in old vehicles, finding and financing pre-owned cars, adding protections like extended warranties and insurance, and more.

By centralizing resources and expertise, we hope to build trust and confidence around major financial decisions. Users will have at their fingertips all the information needed to determine if a car truly suits their needs—not just at the moment of sale, but in the months and years of ownership to come.

To quantify the effectiveness of this approach, we will closely monitor key metrics. Most crucially, we will compare recorded sales against the number of 7-day return requests. My goal is to provide such a reliable and supportive car shopping experience that few customers feel the need to go through the hassle of returning their vehicles. By openly tracking this benchmark over time, we can continue refining the mix of tools and education that empower users to find fulfilling long-term car ownership solutions.


Following the yellow brick road.

Decision Trees

Mapping out an optimal user flow enabled me to envision each step of the car-buying journey on our platform. Plotting the hypothetical experience as a sequence of logical actions and decisions revealed key insights about the desired interface and interactions.

Tracing hypothetical users’ happy paths through the app highlighted important design considerations around:

✔️ Defining clear calls-to-action to prompt intentional progression.
✔️ Determining key decision points that shape or personalize the experience.
✔️ Connecting screens in an intuitive way based on various selections

By visualizing how customers could move elegantly through critical car shopping tasks like getting trade-in valuations, securing financing, and finalizing purchases, I could craft an experience that feels seamless yet flexible.

The user flow provided a framework for understanding users’ mental models and how to support these with progressive disclosure of information. Mirroring the happy path narrative allowed me to prepare the necessary touchpoints and transitions that might serve users’ needs and preferences. In essence, the sequences illustrated how to guide customers to personalized solutions through intentional steps shaped by their real-time actions and decisions.

Sizing up to the competition.

Competitive Audit

Studying existing players in the pre-owned vehicle market equipped me with invaluable context to inform my own platform’s development.

This competitive analysis illuminated precisely where people struggle most across the stressful, opaque process of researching options, securing financing, evaluating conditions and value, and finalizing purchases. I discovered gaps where consumers feel confused, rushed, or distrustful due to outdated sales tactics and limited access to trustworthy guidance.

Armed with this intimate understanding of the pre-owned shopping

experience’s shortcomings, I set out to design a uniquely focused user-solution. My platform introduces transparency, personalization tools, unbiased financial products, and education to ease anxieties. By enhancing upon existing models, I aim to deliver exceptional value through an ethical approach centered on customer needs above all else.

By factoring steadfast knowledge of the competitive landscape into our model, I can distinctly address buyers’ deepest frustrations at each stage while setting a progressive, principled standard for the industry

the competitive audit with competing brands


Putting pen to paper.

Paper to Digital Wireframes

paper wireframes to digital wireframes for desktop
paper wireframes to digital wireframes for mobile

Validating the work.

Testing Prep

the usability test prep, complete with kpi's, scope, and interview transcript
the usability test prep, complete with kpi's, scope, and interview transcript

To improve user experience, I set out to answer:

How long do key tasks take?
Monitoring overall duration reveals processes to streamline.

Where does the user flow stall?
Pinpointing drop-off points highlights confusion to fix.

What micro-interactions need polish?
Isolating touchpoints allows targeted redesign.

What supplementary tools bring value?
Adding helpful resources boosts understanding.

Why might users hesitate?
Resolving privacy, price, and support objections builds trust.

This targeted questioning uncovers actionable opportunities to optimize through clarity, simplicity, and responsiveness to user needs.


The report card is in.

Usability Test

I used standardized usability surveys to benchmark ease of use. Scaled ratings across factors like:

  • Intuitive navigation
  • Quick learning
  • Interaction consistency
  • Workflow confidence

This feedback exposed interface pain points. Scoring system learnability and coherence highlighted convoluted flows and confusing elements obstructing 


Formal usability metrics quantified shortcomings around goals like:

  • Simplifying tasks
  • Supporting progression
  • Building confidence

By evaluating perceived ease of use, I gathered actionable data on where finer tuning for intuition and clarity was needed.

usability results

Ease of use: All participants agreed it was easy to use. 50% of them thought it was really easy to use.

Learning curve: All participants agreed that there wasn’t a steep learning curve. 60% strongly agreed with that statement.

Consistency: 80% of participants believed the website was consistent throughout their interaction. Of those participants, 50% strongly agreed. Whereas, 20% disagreed.

Confidence of use: 80% of participants stated that they were confident going through the purchase flow. 20% were neutral.

usability results for final testing

Ease of use: All participants agreed it was easy to use. 60% of them thought it was really easy to use. An increase of 10%.

Learning curve: All participants agreed that there wasn’t a steep learning curve. 80% strongly agreed with that statement. An increase of 20%.

Consistency: All participants believed the website was consistent throughout their interaction. 30% strongly agreed. 20% downgraded to “agree,” whereas 30% upgraded to “agree.”

Confidence of use: 90% of participants stated that they were confident going through the purchase flow. 10% remained neutral.

Building upon what was learned.


Purchasing Flow Iterations

* clicking each hotspot will provide further details.

60% of participants thought the sequence flow was out of order.

1 of 6

20% of participants didn’t see the price of the car live-updating in the nav. throughout the process.

They believed that the total price should be listed on the “Review Order” page.

2 of 6

20% of participants didn’t see the “Confirm Button” below the fold and believed there should be a button at the top.

3 of 6

The sequence was adjusted and no other participants commented on the sequence.

4 of 6

A “Purchase Total” section was added to the “Review Order” section, and there were no further comments about the car’s total price.

5 of 6

A “Confirm & Complete” button was added to the top of the “Review Order” section and no further interruptions occurred in the flow.

6 of 6
Trade-in Flow Iterations

20% of participants mentioned that they were confused because three forms indicated “1 of 3,” but with different information in each form.

1 of 4

40% of participants indicated that the form navigation was bulky and distracting.

2 of 4

The progress indicator was updated from accordion-style to numerical, improving user orientation within the flow, with no additional remarks provided.

3 of 4

The various form fields in the “Basic Info” section of the accordion were divided into manageable steps and no further comments were made about it.

4 of 4
Buttons & Input Fields Iterations

20% of participants mentioned that the “Select File” button was too neutral and blended in too much.

1 of 6

The button colour was changed to the secondary colour.

2 of 6

20% of participants indicated that the selection buttons were too similar to the confirmation button. 

3 of 6

20% of participants indicated that the options listed were very limiting.

4 of 6

The colour of all the selection buttons were changed to the secondary colour eliminating further comments.

5 of 6

An “other” checkbox was added with an input field.

6 of 6

How do we Look?

Brand Identity

For Here or To Go?

Take Away

Entering this project, I was unaware of the opaque, high-pressure tactics marring the car-buying journey. Interviews quickly exposed shady practices that seize on customer ignorance. From opaque rust protection pricing to leveraging free floor mats to feign negotiation victories, stories of manipulation abounded.

Yet common pain points also emerged around selling old vehicles fairly, securing financing, and navigating aggressive sales staff. By understanding these shared frustrations, I gained incredible clarity around the need for a transparent online 

car buying experience.

When testing my vision for such a platform, the enthusiasm said it all—“Too bad this doesn’t exist already!” addressed a real unmet demand. By cutting through previous assumptions, this human-centred discovery process revealed deep challenges within the existing car-buying paradigm alongside a hungry market for ethical innovations. The candid insights not only illuminated needs but also forged purpose and conviction behind my new solution.

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