GuideMe 

A UX Case Study

Project Type

  • Academic
  • Concept and Product Design


Duration

  • Jan 2020
  • March 2020
  • (10 weeks)


Tools

Sketch

InVision

POP by marvel


Responsibility

Capstone Project to culminate learnings from UX Diploma Program at Brainstation.

Overview

GuideMe is a travel management app designed to alleviate the stress of organizing and planning a trip that many people go through. It allows travelers to consolidate their travel plans and creates an itinerary that’s appropriate for their needs. The traveler can upload their current itinerary and plans, search and add new places to their trip, and the app automatically generates an itinerary for them to follow.

Design Process

Learning about the 'Double Diamond' in class, I applied this method of thinking to tackle the design challenge.


DISCOVER

01

Problem Space

For this design challenge, I wanted to focus on something from my own experiences with planning travel. Normally when I plan a trip, I go through different outlets to find the information that I need. From looking for information about different places, to creating multiple spreadsheets to keep track of my plans, it’s always a hassle to keep track of all that information. I wanted to find out if other people struggle and deal with the same issues.

Digital interactions are increasingly taking over the tourism sphere – more people are looking online to plan their trips. There is currently a plethora of platforms out there that deal with travel and tourism, from booking tickets to itinerary recommendations. Although this may be a convenience, travelers still have to keep track of all the information they find. Travelers also spend a lot of time planning their itineraries and routes, creating stress even before the trip starts.

02

Project Definition

Goal

The project should deliver a way for experienced travelers to easily manage their travel itinerary. The solution should be able to improve the way their travel information is organized, in a manner that is easy to follow, yet detailed enough to see all relevant information.

Assumptions

I believe that my users have a need to easily find and organize what they need when planning a trip. People want to be prepared before going on the trip, but are overwhelmed by the current way of managing trip plans.

  1. Problems & HMWs
  2. Looking at my research and assumptions, I hypothesized some problems and initial ‘how might we’ statements: 

Project Hypothesis

I believe that efficiently planning the travel itinerary for experienced travelers will allow them to spend less time gathering information on all aspects of their trip. I will know this to be true when people are less overwhelmed when planning for a trip.

03

User Research

  1. To learn more about how what people think about travel planning, I interviewed some people to try and find answers to these research objectives:


Determine how people plan their trips,

  1. How people feel while planning their trips, and
  2. Common denominators between people’s needs and wants of travel.

  1. I conducted user interviews (20-30 mins each) with participants between the ages of 25-45 years old, who plans and travels on long trips (1 week or longer) at least once a year. Due to the limited timeframe of this project, I could only interview 5 users.


Main points and quotes are grouped into similar categories.

Interview Insights

  1. After sorting the data from the interview into pain points, motivations, and behaviours, I was able to discover some insights:

  2. Efficiency: Travelers plan their itineraries because they like to know what they are doing on the trip and don’t like wasting their time.

  3. Personalization: Travelers like to personalize their travel plans, giving them flexibility to satisfy their needs and wants.

  4. Tracking: Travelers like to be able to keep track of what they have booked, and be able to see their itinerary as they travel.


DEFINE

04

Personas

  1. With the insights I gathered from the preliminary research and interviews, I created primary and secondary personas to help define my target users. Having personas make it easy to refer back to them throughout the design process, reminding me of who I am designing for.

Primary

Secondary

05

Experience Map

  1. In order to understand the user’s behaviour better, I created an experience map for my primary persona to identify areas of opportunity for digital intervention. The map shows how Skye would plan a travel itinerary, from searching to actually going on her trip.

After identifying the area of opportunity (highlighted in green), I refined my how might we statement and start to ideate a solution.

How Might We

  1. …make the process of planning travel for experienced travelers less complicated?

DEVELOP

06

User Stories

  1. Considering the needs of Skye, I created a set of user stories to identify app functionality that users would need. After choosing an epic, I then created more user stories to further define app functionality for that epic so I can figure out how to create my Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

Chosen Epic – Route Navigation

07

Task Flow

  1. Using the tasks I've identified in my user stories, I created a task flow with a  focused on route navigation. It shows the flow of how a user would arrive at their recommended itinerary from the trip main page.

08

Sketches

  1. After identifying the main task flow, I started to sketch and draw out possible solutions. Looking at existing travel management apps for inspiration like TripIt, Funliday, and Lambus, I began to explore different ideas.

09

Prototype

V1

  1. After further refining the paper sketches, I created my first set of wireframes showing the main task flow in mid-fidelity. I made a working prototype with the wireframes, and did my first round of user testing.

Invision Prototype: https://invis.io/T6VWW7GQEW7

Usability Testing

Round 1

  1. Overall, most users were able to complete the tasks relating to the main task flow.  There were issues with the last 2 tasks, where the majority of users did not fully understand how to move between screens. This presented an opportunity to make design changes, and to create a better flow. Below is a summary of the results from the first round of usability testing.

This summary of the user testing reveals which tasks needed to be fixed and changed.

10

Prototype

V2

  1. Taking into consideration the usability issues from round 1 of user testing, design changes were made and a second version of the wireframes was created. I started to add some detail to provide a better understanding of the screens and to clarify the content being shown.

Invision Prototype: https://invis.io/4XW49M82QJ7

Usability Testing

Round 2

  1. This round of usability testing was much more successful. All users were able to complete the task flow. From user comments, I also found out that I was missing an important area in the app – the ability to apply filters. Below is a summary of the results from the second round of usability testing.

This time around, results reflected the effectiveness of the design changes.

11

Final Prototype

  1. After the second round of user testing, I implemented the usability changes as well as added the filter functionality into the final high-fidelity prototype. Most of the issues were aesthetic or information architecture related. I chose to fix all those issues in order to improve the overall user experience.

Biggest design change was adding filters/settings to the

‘my places’ and the ‘map mode’ screens.

Invision Prototype: https://invis.io/7WW4OMOPXY9

DELIVER

12

Visual

Identity

  1. Who and What
  2. After finalizing the final flow of screens, I started to identify the visual identity of the brand. I began by creating a list of words and phrases that represent the feeling I want to convey with the app. I also thought of different names that would represent the purpose and voice of the app.

  1. Colour and Type
  2. After defining the feeling of the app, I gathered inspiration to further explore colour palettes and typography styles. The colours should represent discovery and the explorative spirit of a traveler. They should also reflect the reliability of the brand. For typography, I wanted to use a font that was modern and legible at various weights.

I took the two main colours that I found and further refined the aRGB values to create a colour palette that fits the brand.  After I was able to settle with two colour palettes, I then injected the palettes into a few screens to test if the colours work with the app layout.

  1. After some feedback from users, the darker green-blue palette was better suited to reflect the explorative and reliable feel of the app. I continued to expand the palette by adding secondary colours that would fit the tone of the brand. I ended up choosing the Libre Franklin font – bold, modern and easy to read.



Accessibility

As an aspiring designer, I learned about how it is a responsibility for a good designer to make sure that everyone has access to the things we create. Using the Stark plugin for Sketch, I checked the content on the app relative to the background colours to make sure it was WCAG compliant, at minimum to the 'AA' standard for the purposes of the content.

Logo

Behind every successful brand, there is some sort of ‘icon’ or graphic that represents and speaks to what the brand is. I explored ideas by looking into travel-related elements for inspiration. I decided to use the rigid Libre Franklin font for the app name in the logo to further emphasize the reliability of the app.

13

Final

Design

  1. After confirming the visual identity of the brand, I applied the visual elements to all the screens to create my high-fidelity prototype of the app. I also took this time to quickly do some more testing and gather some feedback from my peers. The final design incorporated any newfound changes.

14

Marketing Website

  1. Part of the design challenge was to design a marketing website to promote the app and brand. I wanted to communicate the MVP of the app – route navigation. As the user reads through the marketing page, they would be taken on a 'journey' to discover what the app is about. After a few iterations and taking into account peer feedback, here is a look at the desktop and mobile versions of the marketing site. 

Desktop and Mobile versions shown.

NEXT STEPS

15

Multi-

Platform Design

  1. Continuing the point of accessibility, I wanted to reimagine the app on other platforms to cater to the needs of different people. There are two platforms that could be further explored based on the functionality of the app - a smartwatch and a Tesla In-car Display.  I used the second persona that I created to have a different perspective into the problem space. Christian has a busy lifestyle, and relies on technology to help him through his week. As a traveler, he could potentially use both the platforms, so I wanted to take on the challenge to ideate and create experiences for both.

  1. I revisited my list of user stories for inspiration into functionality for both platforms:


As an experienced traveler, I want to determine the distance from the current location to the next location so that I know how far I need to travel.


As an experienced traveler, I want to be able to know when I have visited a location so that I can keep track of where I've been.


As an experienced traveler, I want to be guided as I follow my itinerary so that I know where I am at all times.



Taking these user stories, I created user flows to identify how this functionality would look like. These are the concept screens for a smart watch and Tesla in-car display.

Smartwatch Concepts – can be applied to Apple or Android interfaces. Further user testing would be needed to determine usability.

Tesla in-car screen concept.

16

Design Impact & Future Thinking

  1. Looking into the impact and future of my design, I began to explore some of the questions that are presented in the Tarot Cards of Tech

As I was looking into market competitors during my initial stages of research, I found that a lot of travel related applications had elements of what I want my app to achieve, but never all of it. If my GuideMe is successful, it would solve a lot of the pain points that people have when planning travel, and would be the main competitor in the travel and tourism space. People who work in travel agencies, tour companies, and booking platforms would be heavily affected. There could also potentially be a loss of competition, which could work against my app since one of the functionalities is that users can incorporate their existing plans from external platforms into the app. This would mean that additional infrastructure and resources would be needed to help users do things that those external apps already achieve.

There are many apps that have changed the way people act, and even think about technology and social media. If my app has over 100+ million users, it will be the new 'Expedia', 'Booking.com' and 'Airbnb' – the newest and best travel app. It would change the way people look at creating and managing trips. Instead of having to look at multiple sources, the user would only have to use GuideMe as a one-stop shop for travel. My vision for this app is that it can become a 'super travel app' , where anything and everything related to travel and tourism can be done through a single platform.

Having a route automatically generated for the traveler is very convenient. However, there are variables in the world that cannot be predicted, such as closed roads, dangers on the road, areas that have higher crime rate, and natural weather occurrences. GuideMe (at this point in concept) did not account for these changes, so for future development would need to keep in account variables like these. Also, having to introduce a 'PRO' version of the app could present a challenge in today's society, where people sometimes don't see the value of a digital subscription because it's not something that is tactile.

17

Business Model

  1. Continuing with the point of GuideMe's business model, I created a business model canvas to show the potential how the app can generate revenue and grow in a real business. I focused on travelers as my main customer segment, since they would be the core revenue stream. Revenue could also be generated through advertising and partnerships with existing platforms with a need to help their customers' frustrations.

17

What I've Learned

  1. Throughout these past 10 weeks, I learned about the UX design process and applied it to how I've tackled this capstone. It's important to try and follow all the steps of the process, so that the design is backed up by appropriate methods. If there was more time to work on my capstone, I would spend more time focusing on refining each stage of the process, so that the design can have better usability and impact.

  2. I really enjoyed the first part of the double diamond, where I refined my problem space and created a strategy to tackle the design challenge. In order to solve a problem, you need a plan and know how to execute that plan. I believe that UX strategy is fundamentally the core of the UX process. It drives the design forward by giving conditions and constraints to which a designer can follow. It's important to spend time to develop a sound strategy for the problem space, and to apply human-centred design principles while designing.


Doing usability testing during the design phases are crucial in learning how a potential user would react using the product. I learned that sometimes when I design an element or a task flow a certain way, it might not be how the user actually perceives it. Testing allowed me to see the things I couldn't see, and relinquishing my app to someone who hasn't been working on it for weeks provides a fresh set of eyes and perspective.


One major area I struggled in was visual design. I do not have a graphic or visual background, so having an eye for colours and visual sense is not my strong suit. However, the UX/UI process encourages trial and error – to go through multiple iterations throughout the entire process, whether it be for wireframes or branding. This is an area that I look forward to improving in the future, and I am quite excited for the day when I don't have to struggle choosing between two shades of green.




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