UX Case Study: The Birth of Trip Planner
As part of my first projects in the User Experience Design program at RED Academy, I was given the opportunity to conduct an interview with a classmate and discover a problem they were having with the idea of finding a solution for them.
After chatting, I found that my classmate loves to travel but finds that planning a trip requires a lot of work. At the same time, she is not sure if she might be missing something in her research and doesn’t like the fact that information is everywhere. She would love to have an app she could use to customize a trip based on her interests, and that would have all the important information in one place.
I decided I would create an app that would do the research for her. She would select her preferences (what she’d like to see, activities she’s interested in, dates she’d be travelling, type of travel and accommodations) and the app would generate a travel package customized to her.
Research was done through multiple interviews with many follow-up questions.
Here is a draft of how my interview script started out. It was very general because I was trying to figure out what he liked and what kind of problem she might need a solution for.
After finding out she like to travel but has trouble planning, I followed up with some more interview questions more specific to the research needs.
Gemma loves to travel. She’s young and adventurous and would love to discover the world because she believes that learning about different cultures will help her grow as a person.
Through domain research, I found that competitor sites offered trip packages which allowed users to choose where and when they’d like to travel. However, there were no options for the user to customize their trip based on activities they wanted to do or sights they wanted to see. Usually research would have to be done by the user themselves first before going to a site that allowed the user to book a trip. The user had to know specifically before booking, where they would like to travel and when.
Another finding is that all packages offered by competitor sites only offered hotels as accommodations and flights as travel. The user would be able to choose the location of the hotel, but there was no option for the user to choose another type of accommodation like bread and breakfast or hostel. They were also unable to customize how they wanted to travel (i.e. plane, bus, train or driving). They were limited to just by plane.
The goal of Trip Planner was to allow the user full customization of their trip. The app would allow the user to choose activities they wanted to do, sights they wanted to see, type of accommodations they wanted to stay in, budget, and when they’d like to travel. After choosing their specific preferences, the app would then generate trip profiles of places that suited them. The user can then go through the profiles, use the one that most interests them, and then book a trip.
I went through a few user flows before figuring out a path I wanted to take.
First Gemma has the choice of signing up, logging in or using as guest. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll say she already has an account and logs in.
Now she has the opportunity to input her travel information and preferences. After she does this, the system will generate trip profiles that are customized to her. She can choose to browse them and if there is one she is interested in, she can choose to book.
Her goal is to plan a trip efficiently based on personal interests with all important information in one place.
Here are some sketches of the low-fidelity design:
This is a second draft:
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This is a paper prototype I did using POP. I used this prototype to test its usability.
After testing the Trip Planner prototype with four classmates, there were three key findings:
- Questions and headlines need more clarification
Some questions that made sense to me did not necessarily make sense to others. For example, in my app I had the user choose between ‘Things you wanted to see’ and ‘Things you wanted to do’ as selection preferences. To me, these headlines meant landmark based and activity based. However, some users needed clarification asking what the difference was. As well, I realized some questions might need more detail or visuals to help the user understand.
2. Different ways of using the app
I had a user suggest to me that instead of having users answer a question and then go to the next page, it might make more sense to have the questions be scrolling. That way, the user doesn’t feel like they are doing multiple different tasks but that it is one long task instead.
3. Location of buttons
Originally, I had my back button located on the bottom left hand corner. However, after testing, I realized that users don’t generally look there to go back. It is usually in the top left hand corner. This is just a general understanding that the users had. Even though I had a back button, many of them missed it because it was not in a familiar place.
I learned a lot in this first project. One of the biggest takeaways was to keep it simple and move forward. Instead of letting myself get stuck in one stage of the process, I just had to keep going. Having a skeleton of the different stages of the process makes it easier to go back and add details and features if necessary. Going through the whole process at least challenged me to think about the crucial points in every stage.
I also realized how important usability testing is. Something that makes complete sense to me, might not make sense to another person at all. This process helped me to think about my own biases and assumptions and how they might affect the way that I plan and design something.
I am looking forward to doing more projects and to put my reflections into action!