a travel app that connects locals with world explorers
When travelling to a new place, the amount of resources to learn about attractions, culture, and other information can be overwhelming. Travellers like to get the most out of their trips, but can sometimes have gaps in their knowledge. It is very easy for travellers to miss off-the-beaten path attractions and less-advertised events. More spontaneous travellers may choose to research less and find things to do on the go, asking locals for suggestions. Before a traveller arrives, it is important for them to know and understand cultural norms, local news, safety information and which attractions must be booked in advance. Locals have the key to this knowledge. By connecting with locals more easily, travellers can not only gain knowledge, but have genuine, memorable experiences.
There are overwhelming amounts of travel resources available, and filtering out the important information about attractions, culture and personal interests is sometimes challenging. Travellers need a way to easily find information that is best learned directly from locals to make the most of their trip.
GOALS & OBJECTIVES
Help users find all the information they need in a user-sourced, centralized resource
Help users explore and be spontaneous
Help users find their next activity based on their interests
Help users connect with locals who wish to provide specific info (direct messages) or general area information (FAQ)
Our solution is a social platform that aims to connect travellers to locals in a way that is mutually beneficial: tourists gain insights about the region from local experts and locals can share their knowledge and help outsiders appreciate their home. This app strives to be a one-stop-shop for all you need to know to help you on your adventure including things to do, places to eat, and how to stay safe (which includes regional COVID-19 protocols). The app also provides general information to answer common questions which also helps shy tourists get the information they need. Direct messaging between tourists and experts will give opportunities to start interactions and even build friendships around the world. In-app searches and tags will allow travellers to filter by interests and topics. Navigation will be done through integration of Google Maps. Also, much of the information on the app will be available to be downloaded onto the tourist’s phone to mitigate issues due to disruption of internet access. Furthermore, COVID-19 has greatly affected the tourism industry, contactless features and interaction are necessary to help both tourists and locals stay safe. An important thing to note is that we will be focusing on the tourist side of the app for this project.
INTERVIEWS & INSIGHTS
We talked to family and friends to better understand the habits, preferences, and pain points of travelers.
Here is what we found:
Insight 1 - The number of people traveling together affects flexibility and spontaneity
We interviewed a variety of different travellers, all with very different, and often specific, requirements for where they wished to stay. This makes finding accommodations and activities that satisfy all requirements a difficult and tedious process.
Insight 2 - Visiting local restaurants is an important element of exploring a city
We found that many participants consistently like to taste local food wherever they go. Eating the local food not only helps tourists understand and embrace the place they are visiting, but also helps support the local economy.
Insight 3 - Connecting with locals is beneficial to the travelling experience
Locals can do more than direct tourists to a street or restaurant but help build memories of the explored city. Talking to locals and learning about their lives gives tourists new perspectives to appreciate and give life to the city.
Insight 4 - Time influences which activities you will be doing
Depending on your length of travel, you will prioritize different activities and if you have very little time, you will need to be efficient with your exploration. Business travellers typically have much less free time than someone who is in a place for a week, meaning they have to be more selective when choosing how to spend this time. Even leisure trips can’t always last forever: people need to get back to their responsibilities.
click to zoom
During this stage, we developed a low fidelity prototype using Figma to generate basic user flows, explore different types of scroll animations, elements, search bars, and various other elements that make up the UI.
This stage was vital for planning, divergent thinking, and creating a user-centric app design that would minimize stress and confusion. Working with other peers, this prototype was used for a first round of user testing and identified key issues, pain points, and any unclear elements.
As a team we learned a lot from our user testing session. Our participants brought to our attention flaws and confusing elements that needed review within our app. We understood the intricacies of how the app works because we built it. However, our users showed us how user flows might differ for a first time user. From our testing, we learned the importance of communicating how a feature is displayed and how it will function through visual imagery and graphic elements, as well as the importance of consistency.
To solve the confusion our participants experienced, we rethought how several of our features work. We changed our header because many of our testers were confused as to the function of our original header. Users can now access our search bar (which is a main feature in our app) in our new, static header. The search function was also redesigned to be simpler and easier to use. We also reomoved our pinning function because it caused a lot of confusion and we eventually deemed it unneccessary.
Furthermore, icons were redesigned to be more intuitive. Instructional/explanatory text was also added in areas that confused our testers. During user testing, we found missing screens and inconsistencies with buttons and boxes. We added the missing screens and made sure our elements were consistent throughout the app. To help users navigate our app, we added a back button on many pages and reduced the number of clicks needed to use filters. We also added “x” to our tags and search filters so that our users could reverse any decision they make. Finally, we visually re-balanced several screens because our participants also pointed out that certain screens had too much negative space.