Second Story Auctions

Design and development on an estate sale web app built in sixteen weeks.



Second Story Auctions is an online estate sale app. It works with consigners to sell unwanted items in a home. A contractor will come into the home to categorize and list items for sale. This app was built for both the consigner and contractor, to replace an inefficient off the shelf solution.

I worked with the product owners from project kick-off to the first public auction. A week of discovery work was followed by 16 weeks of design and development, launching in fall 2014. I was responsible for all UX/UI and HTML/CSS implementation. Key differentiators from competitors included real-time auction updates and a flexible site design for mobile,.




The process began by documenting the co-founders knowledge on how an auction currently operated. A concrete example of “How does this vase get from House A to House B?” was used to guide the discussion. This scoped the initial release, focusing on the contractor and buyer. 

A day was spent on-site watching a contractor catalog and list items for a sale. Key take-aways were the chaotic environment the consignors worked in and observing the current solution.


Auction Creation

The first user flow was the creation of an auction and adding an item by a contractor. This would have a big impact for efficiency, as the number of auctions are limited based on the documentation.

To begin, a contractor would upload the photos she had taken while working. As contractors are often on spotty wi-fi, this was a technically difficult feature to implement from an engineering point of view. The final version allowed the contractor to navigate away to start creating items. They could come back to upload more photos, remove unused photos, and to check on the upload status. 

Item creation had the contractor list the name of the item and details. The initial iteration had contractors set type in the details first, then add photos separately.

Testing on-site with contractors proved the thinking was backwards. Photos were added first, then the item details. Not showing the available photos was slowing them down. The final iteration had a side-by-side view, allowing the contractor to choose photos and fill out info.



Viewing an item let the bidder details about the item. This included an mobile-friendly slideshow, details on this item, and the bidding area.

Visual treatment was added so it’s easy to tell at a glance what is happening on the bid. A thumbs-up means you have the winning bid, while a thumbs-down shows that someone outbid you.



The dashboard feature aimed to set the business apart from similar sites. In the past, customers would have a tab open for each item, constantly refreshing as time ran down. With this feature, the dashboard offered real-time updates on a bidder’s current items and would operate as the go-to place in the final auction minutes.


CSS Styleguide

Creating a CSS styleguide allowed the developers to add new functionality, while retaining the style. The time savings allowed more features to be developed in the 16 week timeline.


Thanks to Merrilee Luke Ebbeler for the photos