Designing the Guide of The Future (In Paper)

The traveling guide that is a trip itself

Be the first to get the guide here.

Over the past four years, I’ve been traveling extensively which has given me a greater understanding of our motivations, our pains and our aspirations when visiting cities. Each journey has been an experiment where I have played with variations of personalized city guides based on advance research. These city guides consisted of a very complete Google Map and later a printable PDF. My travels, which include more than 42 countries, have taught me that each city is completely different and very similar at the same time. Therefore every new map was similar to the previous but always incorporated a little innovation. The best photo spots, tips on how to sneak in, the secret or unusual.

Surprisingly, after years working on the digital side, I realized that paper was the best format to embrace our traveling experience. There’s something special in disconnecting from technology when we travel. Furthermore, many of us still rely on a big paper map to get across the city or even leave our phones at home to enjoy without distraction.

How to design a responsive city guide…in paper?

The challenge was to provide an adaptive and customized experience to each traveler using the guide. But even if each traveler wasn’t complex enough, we had to deal with the fact that each traveler could have different needs depending if he or she was traveling solo or in a group for example.

When you list the pains and address the challenges, magic starts to happen. It turns out that paper can be the best tool to provide all these features, be responsive and adapt to the needs of each traveler.

Last year a group of 1,000 travelers helped me create what we believe is the most powerful tool to craft your next big adventure.

Why is this paper guide so unique?

Architectour Guide will be soon be available via Kickstarter. But first, let me walk you through the design of a page. These are the main features of the guide, have a look.

1. No photographs, just sketches

Photographs can be quite disappointing and ruin our discovery experience.
Sketches provide sufficient information without spoiling our first impression of the site.

People see this on the guide…

But actually find this when they visit…

2. Short text that will arouse your curiosity

Text is meant to be read, that’s why we kept it short, less than 160 words to be precise. The text contains 3 interesting facts that will leave you hungry for more. Our target is that you actually visit the place some day. We believe that less is more.

3. Quick information for immediate needs

Did it ever happen to you that on a sunny day it suddenly started raining? Do you work long hours but you would still want to visit something when you finish? or maybe you just feel like secret spots today?

No problem, the side index is designed to quickly find right what you need

4. A useful map, on every page

If you travel quite often, you might have realized how annoying it’s to check the map, go back to the place, realize it’s closed. Go back to the map and check another site… and so on. The next day you just carry the typical city map, which is the only indispensable tool.

What if you had a map on every page that would make walking from site to site easy?

5. Pro tips

How should you be dressed when you want to sneak in? How can you get cheaper tickets?
Information only your closest friends will share with you.

6. A timeline, so you understand the context

It’s not enough to tell people that a building was innovative for the period. What happened? Why is it relevant? Why did it get built? Who promoted it?

A timeline provides context, helps us to appreciate the site and teaches us some history too.

7. And Recommendations no other guide will tell you

Where can I take the best picture? Sometimes it’s quite obvious but perhaps full of tourists blocking your perfect shot. Other times, there’s a hidden spot to get the perfect photo that only the pro’s know of. If you are a professional photographer, this feature will save you a lot of time.

You will get a unique perspective that other visitors will often overlook. This shot of Parliament for example, is just like any other shot, but slightly different and more beautiful.

Once you’ve got the perfect snap, you might ask, what other places in the guide may I like too? maybe another building by the same architect? or a church in the same Gothic style? maybe something built in the same period? The options are multiple.

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