Beat is a crowdfunding app that connects NYC street vendors with their customers more intimately. Its goal is to create trust to build social cohesion in public spaces where people may feel unsafe. People can discover the value of street vendors, learn about their struggles, and help.
My Role
Product Designer
16 weeks
My Responsibilities
UX Research
Interaction Design
Product Design

People feel unsafe and a lack of community in their neighborhoods


User interviews

I conducted intercept interviews with over 15 users. Most said that street food vendors made them feel safe, while public safety personnel, CCTV's, and defensive infrastructure made them feel unsafe and suspicious of those around them.

People trust NYC street food vendors and are curious about their backstories. Vendors need more community support.


Design a community crowdfunding tool

Make people feel safer, reward vendors for their role in our city's micro-economies, and help them pay down unfair fines. The high-level goal is to improve social cohesion by leveraging feelings of trust toward food vendors.
primary user

Aggregate persona

Sandra Clarkson

Public Relations Manager
Ridgewood, BK
3 days a week she stops by Marguerite's cart for a tamale on her way home from work.
Her Challenges
  1. She feels vulnerable around strangers who don't look like her friends.
  2. She feels vulnerable in open public spaces.
  3. Armed authority figures make her nervous.
Hidden Value
She can advocate for vendors on her desired paths through the city, so that others may trust them.

User mapping

Before thinking about features, I mapped Sandra's experience through the service to better understand her tasks, which the app would need to accommodate.

User tasks

  • Get home from work while feeling safe
  • Participate in public spaces while feeling safe

    App features

    • Street vendors near you
    • Vendor story
    secondary user

    Aggregate persona

    Marguerite Mackenson

    Food Vendor
    Ridgewood, BK
    Marguerite is one of 3,000 food vendors in NYC. She immigrated 20 years ago from Haiti where she studied to be a doctor. She's raised her kids in Brooklyn where she makes and sells tamales.
    Her Challenges
    1. New York City restricts vending licenses and spaces for her to park her cart.
    2. She's often at risk committing minor violations, which incur fines that could easily bankrupt her.
    3. Fines worsen her credit and ability to receive loans to fight fines.
    Hidden Value
    She is a predictable presence in public spaces during Sandra's commute to and from work.

    User task

    • Get monetary and legal help

    App features

    • Share story
    • Share challenges
    user flow

    Product discovery

    I mapped out a high-level user flow to flesh out key moments from product discovery to the achievement of a goal. This helped me better understand how each user would use the app and why.
    Primary User

    Low-fidelity wireframes

    List and Map view features

    Users can search for vendors near them by using the List or Map view features. Map view enables users to see their proximity to vendors from a spacial perspective, while List view allows users to glimpse informative previews of each vendor nearby. Users can access a vendor's profile from either view.
    When users arrive on a vendor's profile, they are immediately shown the vendor's story. From here, they can send and view messages to the vendor, and see what the vendor is currently struggling to overcome.

    Vendor profile

    Users can see any challenges that the vendor is currently facing, like unfair fines for encroaching on a crosswalk. They can write them a message of support, help them with a donation, or offer a service such as legal council.
    Beat is part of a larger body of research for my MFA thesis titled Fantasies of our Independence: The Role of Civil Society in the Postmodern City. You can view a short presentation here