Go with the flow | Wanderlust planner app
Case study. UX Design GA London. 2016
You probably met a few people who left jobs and daily routine behind to embark on a round the world adventure for several months. They’re motivated by the dream of exploring new cultures and the need of some space to connect with their essence.
BUT… have you ever questioned how easy is to plan a long trip to several different countries?
My curiosity led me to this project and there were no one better than users to put me into speed and guide me through their journey. So I planned eight one-to-one user interviews with two different target audiences:
- Millennials who have been or are willing to explore the world around, alone or with a partner.
- 35–45 year old leaving their careers to go on a solo trip to unexplored destinations.
TO FIND OUT
- How do they plan the trip?
- Where do they gather and collect information?
- What kind of issues do they find prior and during the trip?
- Do they connect with others?
During the research phase, I have also conducted a competitor analysis with top travel industry players, to better understand the market strengths, weaknesses and possible opportunities. The following brands were looked into detail in terms of USP, user journey online and on bespoke apps, functionalities available and UI.
The rich information collected was then transferred to a colorful post-it mindmap that enabled me to connect the dots to find behavior patterns and common issues to users.
INSIGHTS & LEARNINGS
- They travel alone or with a partner and enjoy the freedom of following new routes suggested by travellers they meet on the way.
- Facing the unknown and having a surprise factor is what makes them tick. But they admit that having a plan or, at least, an overview of places they could head to, would improve their confidence and provide some ground of safety in foreign countries.
- Planning a sabbatical can be overwhelming, since there are tons of information available online and it takes hard work and commitment to plan it.
- Information is usually gathered from multiple channels and, to non-experienced travellers, it can be hard to kick off a plan, so they head to one destination and build their route on the road.
- Travellers who do some prior research rather print all information gathered to ensure everything they need is in hand in case they have no access to Internet.
- Having to open different apps and remembering passwords can be frustrating, but it’s also easy to get lost in piles of print-outs.
- There are travel agencies specialized in tailoring round the world trips. They offer support to explore routes, calculate budgets, book flights, accommodation and activities. STA Travel has a great reputation with an added cost. And let’s not forget agencies want to time everything, leaving almost no room for flexibility.
- Elsewhere there are websites / apps specialized in either flights, accommodation or city guides. Airbnb is recently offering tips on what to see and do in a few main cities around the world. All information fed by the community.
JULIA. A millennial exploring a world of possibilities. Single, 23 years old, student from London.
“When you´re backpacking you´re quite easy going”
- Doesn’t want to limit herself, but needs a rough plan of where to go and what to do.
- Is really keen to go to Thailand and USA but seeks advice on other countries to visit and best routes.
- Needs to manage budget to be away for 6 months.
- Doesn’t know how to start a plan.
- Travel agencies want to put times on everything and it’s quite limiting.
- Doesn’t know how much money she’ll need to be 6 months away.
AS A backpacker I WOULD LIKE TO have all the information I need on the go SO THAT I CAN access it independently of Internet connection.
KATIE. A professional rethinking her career and lifestyle. Italian living in London, single, 38 years old, translator.
“London is taking over me. I need to get away to understand what is important in my life.”
- Wants to experience a different lifestyle to decide whether she should change her career or move somewhere else.
- Has a specific budget and needs to plan around it.
- Is interested in continuing with a few freelance projects while on route, so to afford all expenses.
- Wants to feel free and get inspired by visiting different places.
- Finds difficult to leave her job and her life in London at this age, but knows she needs this headspace.
- Has a very busy schedule and it takes time and commitment to organise a full plan.
- Needs to gather information from different websites and Google search results to compare options.
- Needs to print all documents, vouchers and routes not to rely on Wifi all the time.
AS A round the world traveller I WOULD LIKE TO collect all the information I might need SO THAT I CAN calculate budget and put together a plan.
Looking into the complex scenarios and first draft user flows idealized above, there was a clear need to prioritize and simplify functionalities. But a possible solution should still answer the following needs:
- What if other travelers could inspire users?
- What if they could follow a step-by-step guide on how to plan a sabbatical / gap year and save 3rd party information into an app?
- What if an app could provide the average budget based on wish lists saved by category?
Using MoSCoW methodology (Must / Should / Could / Would) to prioritise functionalities helped me iterate and re-define user-flows.
MEETING USER GOALS
- Inspiring and guiding users to build a plan could help them feel more enticed to start tailoring a route.
- By loading 3rd party content into the app using APIs, the heavy process of searching — collecting — copying information into a document could be streamlined.
- Calculating the average budget based in the items saved on favourites could be highly valuable to travellers organising a long trip.
- Adding reviews from the community of travellers could feed the app with up-to-date word of mouth information that is really valued by users. It could inspire travellers in a similar way to when connecting with others on hostels.
- Having wish lists, maps and documents saved in the same app with offline access could empower travellers so they feel more confident on route. It could also eliminate loosing printed information.
FROM PAPER PROTOTYPES TO WIREFRAMES
An easy way to rapidly test ideas is to use paper and sharpie to sketch ideas. And put it in the most valuable hands of a user. There’s so much you can learn before you even start thinking of a final solution! Trust me, I’ve always been a Visual Designer and I can assure this has certainly been a valuable learning canvas to me.
USER TESTING & INSIGHTS
“The real process is very complex and the app makes it easier to start creating a plan and save ideas.”
“Very clever and useful app. Why don’t you launch it?”
After a few rounds of tests and iterations, core functionalities and user flows were validated, but still a few details had to be reviewed:
- Last step on the on-boarding seemed quite long and copy didn’t clarify what was expected from user.
- It wasn’t clear that when clicking to book a flight or accommodation they would be taken to an external website.
- They were unsure what to expect from “Explore” section.
- Dragging and zooming the map should be a natural behaviour, therefore extra buttons could be eliminated.
SCALING THE APP
- Content to be accessible in the Cloud.
- Possibility to create different plans.
- Allow users to share / co-create plan with other friends travelling together.
- Add suggestions of travel insurance / visas / vaccination.
- “In the flow” version that:
- Connect users on route in real time.
- Send push notifications with travel tips enabled by location.
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