Two-Sided Marketplace Platform

Bridging the Gap: Designing a Two-Faced Marketplace for Plumbing Solutions

The Problem:

The client, a market leader in plumbing solutions for industry professionals, aims to expand their reach to end customers, specifically housewives, by creating an MVP of a marketplace platform that lists all their partners.

The website must balance providing simplified, relatable content for housewives while also attracting professional contractors, ensuring both user groups find the platform valuable and user-friendly.

The Solution:

Through market and user research, including competitive benchmarking, user interviews, and usability testing, we’ll ensure the platform caters effectively to the specific needs of both housewives and contractors, aligning with best practices in similar business approaches.

My Role:

As a UX designer, I led competitive benchmarking and user research, analyzing data to inform design decisions and ensuring the platform met the needs of both user groups. I collaborated closely with the project manager, business owner, and in-house graphic design team to refine the UI aspects.

The Process

My approach followed five stages: empathize, define, ideate, prototype, and test. However, as is often the case with digital design projects, the process was not linear, and iterations were necessary to reach the final product.

Competitive Benchmarking:

Marketplace platforms tend to have a similar structure across different industries, particularly in how they present listing results and product pages (in our case, profile pages).

When it comes to two-sided marketplace platforms, there’s usually a clear visual distinction between the two target audiences, as I found through competitive benchmarking.

I analyzed four similar listing websites to learn more about the industry and to understand how they address the challenge of managing a two-sided marketplace platform catering to two distinct target audiences.

For each side, I focused on the primary use case respectively, aligning with my client’s business goal:

  • Customer Perspective (Housewives):
    • Ease of Finding a Contractor: Assessing the accessibility and clarity of contractor listings.
    • Contact Process: Evaluating the efficiency and simplicity of initiating contact with contractors.
  • Contractor Perspective:
    • Business Registration: Exploring the process and ease of registering as a contractor on the platform.
    • Platform Attractiveness: Assessing the platform’s appeal and benefits for contractors’ businesses.
    • CTAs for Sign-Up: Counting the number of clear calls-to-action guiding contractors through the sign-up process.
Snippet of Competitive Benchmarking Document

Usability testing session:

I chose to conduct usability testing sessions because they offer a comprehensive approach to gather firsthand experience with potential users and insights. This serves as a solid basis for making informed design decisions in subsequent stages.

Although I find it crucial to conduct usability testing sessions with representatives of the target audience, a significant discrepancy arose on the customer-facing side:

  • The client only provided 3 male users from their own company.
  • This posed a significant risk to the research outcome as the target demographic consists of housewives, unfamiliar with plumbing services.

I outlined the risks to my client, and we agreed that despite challenges, valuable insights on website structure and usability can be drawn from the sessions. We concluded that these insights could guide the development of an MVP, with refinements planned for later iterations.

On the contractor-facing side, the client supplied of 3 industry professionals who had previous experience with similar services. This provided valuable and specific insights into the expectations and user experience when signing up for such a website.

Affinity Diagram and Usability Testing Results:

To process my notes, delve into the core of my findings, and organize the qualitative data, I decided to use an affinity diagram.

The consumer-facing usability testing footage provided valuable insights into how users approach solving plumbing-related issues, emphasizing the importance of quick task engagement, user feedback on questionnaires, and the significance of elements like reviews and certifications on business pages for user engagement and contact.

Analyzing the footage provided insights into how users approached finding a solution for plumbing-related issues. The journey could be divided into five steps:

  1. Before Arriving at the Website:
    • Users had various thoughts crossing their minds due to the stressful nature of the situation, combined with previous experiences, whether positive or negative.
  2. Upon Arrival at the Website:
    • Users preferred to immediately engage with the task, preferably through a quick search. They were not inclined to explore the entire website but rather sought a solution to their problem.
  3. Opinions on Questionnaires:
    • There were conflicting opinions regarding questionnaires on the website, which aimed to narrow down search results and gather users’ contact details. This stage was important to explore, given the long-term stakeholder requirement of creating an automated AI chatbot that not only responded to customer inquiries but also provided instant quotes.
  4. Search Results, Listings, and Filtering:
    • It was interesting to note that users showed resistance to paid listings and preferred organic results. This aspect needed further exploration based on stakeholder requirements. Users typically preferred local businesses with high customer ratings.
  5. Business Page Engagement:
    • The most important elements on the business page were reviews and ratings, certifications, quality images, and offering a free quote. Users often contacted the business directly from this page to discuss their problems.


The contractor-facing analysis revealed that the platform itself plays a minimal role, as users typically conduct research and seek advice from peers before visiting the website. Marketing efforts before website arrival are therefore crucial.

Once users decide to invest and visit the site, their preferred process is straightforward: they prioritize signing up quickly, whether through a contact form or a phone call.

However, users expressed a need for a distinct platform appearance from the customer-facing site to avoid confusion during the sign-up process.

Snippet from the affinity diagram showcasing users' contradicting opinion about the questionnaire (costumer-facing side)

Customer Journey Mapping:

I created a customer journey map to visually outline the main steps of the costumer user journey. The analysis revealed crucial areas for enhancement, including improving the home page layout to facilitate contractor search, simplifying the questionnaire process to make it optional, adding additional filtering and sorting options on the listing page, and highlighting key information on the business page. Addressing these aspects can greatly improve user satisfaction and streamline the process of finding a suitable professional for plumbing-related issues.

The contractor-facing customer journey map outlines the decision-making process involved in joining a business directory before users arrive at the website. Users typically conduct external research beforehand and often go straight to the sign-up section upon arrival. Clear call-to-action buttons are a positive aspect, while challenges include unclear wording and limitations in modifying or deleting their own listing. Users expect a clear separation between business and consumer sections, as well as the ability to select multiple offered services.

Customer Journey Map - Costumer-side - Showcasing the first 4 steps of their journey upon arriving to the website

Flow Diagram and Interaction Design:

Although we had a clear understanding of the overall user journey, I concluded that a comprehensive flow diagram and interaction design for either of the journeys cannot be finalized at this stage due to the fact that several aspects of the business model remained unclear:

  • Uncertainties: Number and types of memberships (3 to 5), explanation of differences to customers, and benefits for businesses.
  • Challenges: Defining sign-up process for contractors, required profile information, and certification verification.
  • Integration: Uncertainty about connection between existing review platform and our platform, and review process logistics.
  • Plan: Develop basic sketch for homepage (one page merging the needs of both types of users), search results page, business profile page, and contractor landing page highlighting signup benefits.
Sketches of the Home, Search Results, Business Profile and Contractor Landing pages

High-Fidelity Wireframe and Annotations:

Working together with the client’s in-house graphic design team and in collaboration with their business needs and expertise, we developed a logo and a colour palette. Based on the conclusions from the previous step, the client asked me to design the following four pages:

  • Home
  • Contractor landing
  • Search results
  • Business profile page


I used the colour palette and annotated the designs accordingly. I prepared two concepts for the client to choose from, and once they were satisfied, I handed over the final wrieframe with annotations during a meeting with the newly employed developers.

Snippet of Contractor-facing landing page


The project began with great potential but did not result in a final product ready for use.

The fundamental aspects of the business case were unclear, and it only became apparent to the client that these needed to be defined when we reached the design stage. At that point, it was evident that the basic steps necessary to create the actual use case for the website were missing, and there wasn’t enough information to develop even an MVP.

However, the experience was valuable as it allowed me to enhance my UX design skills and prompted the client to consider essential elements for defining their business model and creating an MVP for the project.