P3. Traveling with Yelp

It appeared to be a relatively simple task (they already seemed to have most of the pieces that we would need) and we had a good idea as to what we wanted to create. We just had to talk to some people, organize our findings, and validate a few things before getting started. To be hon — oh, I’m sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me start over with where it all began…

Who Are You Talking About?

Yelp. Don’t worry, it’s the one you’re thinking about with the stars and the ratings and dollar $igns.

What Did They Want?

To increase user engagement, which includes but isn’t limited to: writing reviews and tips, checking in, bookmarking, etc.

How Did They Want to Do It?

Appeal more to travelers. Which kind of makes sense, but I’ll get into why that is a bit later.

In terms of actual things, Yelp wanted a new feature to be implemented into their current system that would allow users to create an itinerary for their travels as well as keep a record of their actual experiences.

Now, back to what I was saying before…

So, Tell Me About Yourself

In order to really get an understanding of the task at hand, my design team and I needed to learn a bit more about who Yelp is.

Figure 1: Average monthly mobile unique visitors
  • 68% of searches on Yelp came from mobile devices worldwide*
  • 55+% of Yelp content (reviews and photos) was generated on mobile devices*
  • As a result, we decided to focus on Yelp’s mobile platform

*=Pertains to the most recent quarter

Figure 2: Chart depicting the ranking of Yelp’s users general interests

After seeing this chart (courtesy of Yelp), we were able to see why they would want to appeal more to travlers. Travel ranks second in overall interest of Yelp users. But, take a look at Figure 3 below to see how it all comes together.

Figure 3: Contrary to our assumptions, ‘shopping’ is the number 1 reviewed business followed closely by ‘restaurants.’ We had originally thought it would be the other way around, or at least have ‘restaurants’ in first.

Travel and hotel comes in last place in terms of reviewed businesses by category. Despite its users being very much interested in travel, they aren’t using Yelp to fulfill their travel needs. My team and I saw this as the hole Yelp was asking us to fill.

So, after learning about Yelp, we decided to check out the competitive landscape and so who we were up against.

Competitive/Feature Analysis

Figure 4: Note that all of these sites and apps, including Yelp, have a wide range of similarities and differences that don’t necessarily all apply to each competitor.

It was diffcult to really hone in on what kind of competition was out there because Yelp has so many features. We decided to pick and choose other brands that were comparable to Yelp in regards to specific features. For example, Foursquare with food and ratings or Google with maps and ratings. We also took a look at TripAdvisor because they offer travel planning, which is something we took into consideration.

Figure 5: All of the competitors and comparable brands varied in terms of features and functionality. It was difficult for us to prioritize which features to include. This issues was addressed later on in our design process.

As you can see from Figure 5, there were a lot of things to consider when looking at Yelp’s features. There were a lot of similarities and differences between all of the brands we found that made it difficult for us to hone in one specific ones. We decided to use what we had and start talking to the people who know these brands best: the people that use them.

Screener Survey and User Research

In order to figure out who to interview and how to conduct our user research, we realized that we didn’t really know how to define what being a traveler meant. Like, really meant. On one side of the spectrum you’ve got your adventurer backpacker. At the same time, you have your seasonal resort goer. What are the similarities and what types of behaviors do these two different people have?

To get a good idea about what I mean, click our survey below and maybe we’ll shoot you and email or give you a call to see what you have to say!


Synthesizing Our Findings

Figure 6: Kevin Widener (left) and Stephanie Del Rio (right) synthesizing our user findings from our interviews.

After we received 110 responses to our screener survey, we did some filtering and extended an invitation for people to be interviewed. We ended up conducting 10 interviews in person and via Skype.

There was a lot of great information from these interviews, but not everything was pertinent. We got a lot of feedback on preferences and opinions, but what we wanted were behaviors.

Here’s what we found:

  1. People use a multitude of apps/sites when planning for travel and creating itineraries.
  2. Yelp is used primarily for quick glances at reviews/pricing of restaurants.
  3. Having flexibility is more important to someone than having a set itinerary.

But, just as we had a hard time figuring out how to prioritize our competitors (see Figure 5), we realized we needed to prioritize our features, too.

Figure 7: MOSCOW Chart
  • Mapped: easy v. hard (x-axis) in relation to what was essential v. nonessential (y-axis)
  • The prioritized what was essential and easy to implement in the 2-week timeframe we had
  • Searching for things to do, creating an itinerary, sharing photos, and adding trips became our main priorities

The combination of our user research findings and feature prioritization led us to the creation of our personas.

Meeting Ruth, Mike, and Hannah

Figure 8: Ruth — The Annual Tripper (Tertiary Persona)
  • Not everyone has the time or money to be traveling as often as they’d like, so we had to consider the user that can only go somewhere once, maybe twice a year
  • Ruth also represented our users who don’t usually go overseas because of things like language barriers or exchange rates
Figure 9: Mike — The Lone Backpacker (Secondary Persona)
  • Mike represents the people we spoke to that enjoyed solo adventures and only planned for one
  • He also really needs flexibility because while he sees the utility behind an itinerary, he values doing things at his own pace very highly
Figure 10: Hannah — The Social Butterfly (Primary Persona)

Hannah was our primary persona. Some of the key takeaways for her were as follows:

  • Resorts to using screenshots and note taking apps on her phone to remember where to go
  • Heavy mobile user
  • Enjoys uploading pictures, but the process can be difficult or tedious

Based on these personas and their goals and needs, we began our sketching.

Sketching and Ideation

Just as we do with any of our designs, we started off sketching by hand in order to get ideas down quickly to save us time and money (just kidding, we had no money to work with, but time was of the essence!).

Figure 11: Quick ideas for design functions and icons on the global nav.
  • We tinkered with some ideas as to how we can incorporate an ‘add to trip’ feature on the current UI
  • Iconography can be a make or break in terms of helping the user navigate through the site; we wanted to make sure that the icons were clear — for example: does a suitcase icon and an airplane icon convey the same message? Maybe, but we can’t be sure until validated! (Note: We validated this by giving users options and seeing which icons and copy were most frequently pressed when given a specific task.)
  • The global nav would be housing these icons, so it was important to get this right, too
Figure 12: A few select frames to represent the new pages and features we were trying to implement into Yelp’s current UI
  • Since we wanted to maintain the feel that Yelp already has as best we can, we decided to focus on what they didn’t have: a trip creation page where an itinerary could be stored
  • We put some frames together in order to get a quick look as to what the UI could possibly look like and how our new features could co-exist with the current features
  • Once we had a good understanding of what our first iteration was going to look like, we decided to run some rapid prototyping so we could get as much feedback as possible to start our next iterations

Click the image below to see what our first iteration was like! WARNING: IT’S NOT GOING TO BE A GOOD TIME :(

Figure 13: First iteration prototype

We had a rough time getting through testing, but we knew we were getting closer and closer to a possible solution with each test.

Ultimately, it led us to our first few sets of wireframes.

User Flow/Scenarios

Focusing on our primary persona Hannah (see Figure 10), we used the following scenario:

  • You and your friends decided awhile ago to take the same 2-weeks off in March so you can go to Amsterdam for the very first time. But, you don’t know where to begin in terms of what to do and how to plan it. Create a trip and add something you might want to do to your itinerary so that you can view it later.
Figure 14: Medium-Fidelity Wireframe

Figure 14 represents the the key screens that were created or altered in order to create our new feature into the Yelp app.

From left to right you have the home screen, the ‘My Trips’ page, the search results page that contains the suitcase button, and the restaurant details page also containing the suitcase button.

For the prototype, we mapped out what our ideal user flow would be:

Figure 15: Ideal User Flow
  • This allowed for users to create a trip and then be able to search for something to do and then finish off by adding something to their itinerary
  • It seemed to be a good flow because we thought of different ways a user may save an activity, however, we didn’t take into consideration how a user may create a trip
Figure 16: Issues
  • These 3 circles represent the major painpoints we took note of while testing our medium-fidelity prototypes
  • People were confused as to what ‘Travel’ entailed and didn’t know what to expect
  • Clicking + was difficult to see on the screen

From these findings, we decided to implement the changes into a hi-fidelity wireframe to incorporate color and Yelp’s branding to help guide our user’s flows.

Prototyping and Testing

The medium-fidelity tests resulted in users:

  • Using the search bar instead of clicking the ‘My Trips’ button
  • The word ‘travel’ did not convey ‘creating a trip’
  • Navigation was difficult because we were essentially trying to recreate the wheel

After iterating through our hand drawn sketches and our medium-fidelity wireframes, we came to this final hi-fi wireframe.

Feel free to click the iPhone below to test our prototype. The task given was: You are going to Amsterdam with your friends and you need to plan something to do, specifically somewhere to eat.

Figure 17: Final, hi-fidelity prototype

After prototyping this wireframe, we immediately ran 3 user tests. Right off the bat, all three users clicked on the ‘My Trips’ button rather than using ‘Search’, which contradicted our previous findings.

This could have been because:

A. The color in the hi-fi wireframes made it easier to see than in our grayscale wireframes

B. Moving ‘My Trips’ to the center for prime real estate made it more intuitive for users to click on

We weren’t anticipating contradicting results, but it was definitely something to consider. Despite not having the time to research, test, and validate these findings, we definitely wanted to dive into it more in order to finalize the most optimal solution.

This leads me to our team’s next steps…

Moving Forward

As a team, we had a huge amount of next steps.

On a granular level:

  • Adding more detail to the functionality and design of the UI instead of just having our MVP (minimum viable product)
  • Revisiting our MOSCOW Chart (see Figure 7) and incorporating viable features that would make Yelp the “go to” traveler app
  • A/B test to see whether or not a splash screen that guides users to Yelp’s new changes would help in terms of UX and engagement
  • A/B test to see whether or not the real estate and location of the ‘My Trips’ button will affect which flow users take

On a conceptual level:

  • After our testings and continual user research, a huge trend was that people were not using Yelp for travel nor did they express any desire to — we recommend that the brand create a new app entirely that is “brought to you by the team that created Yelp.”