Type of project Self Initiated
Duration 10 Days
Role Worked Alone
Tools Research, Feature & brand comparison, Lean survey canvas, Affinity diagram, User persona + journey, Visual analysis, Sketching, Figma
A few years ago I worked as a receptionist at a fancy hotel in Tel aviv. My favourite thing about the job was chatting with guests and giving them recommendations. I love Tel Aviv and having the opportunity to mark places on a map for visitors, telling them about restaurants, bars, markets and where they could see the city's famous international architecture made me very happy, especially when they would come back and thank me for my recommendations. Everybody wants to have a good travel experience and much of it comes down to knowing where to go - this inspired me to create Applace - a city based mapping app designed to save and share recommendations. I worked on this project for 2 weeks, conducting research, coming up with a design aesthetic and producing a high fidelity prototype.
There are a lot of ways out there to find places to visit but the most well-known and used platforms - Trip advisor, Yelp & Google reviews relay on the mass's opinions which might not match your personal taste, as well as using 5 star rating systems that are unreliable (for instance when people give 1 star because they couldn't get a table at a restaurant which probably means it's a good restaurant if all the tables are full, some businesses buy good reviews, some reviews could be dated etc.). On top of that there aren't a lot of easy to use tools for saving and sharing your experience, from emails to notes, screenshots and looking at old texts, it's often hard to remember that really amazing place your friend told you, you HAVE to go to.
Travellers need a better system of saving, keeping and sharing recommendations
because they value their friends recommendations over what they find online but find it hard to find those recommendations at the right time.
How might we create a comfortable way for users to save and share recommendations with their friends?
Users & Audience
Traveling and getting/ giving recommendations is human nature, I’ve conducted quantitative (survey with 59 responses) and qualitative (5 interviews) research to inquire whether potential users like giving recommendations, how and from who they get recommendations when they travel, and how they keep track of all the places they want to go to. I didn't limit my research to a certain age group and when looking at the answers per age group there was no dramatic difference between them throughout. Since I asked people around me to participate either in the survey or to be interviewed I know that the majority of them travel at least once a year and are smartphone users.
“I like giving recommendations. If I ate at an amazing place I really want to share it with people so they can also experience it, because I want them to be happy.”
I’ve also created a persona, Danielle, to further help me understand the user’s wants & needs, motivation and frustrations and design around her.
Scope & Constraints
The timeline for this project was 10 days. In those 10 days I had to conduct research, ideate, create personas and user journeys, prototype, test, conduct a visual identity competitive analysis, create a mood board, a design language and create a high fidelity prototype. Time management was the biggest hurdle
I had to face in this project. I've had a lot of ideas and together with my research findings I wanted the app to have a lot of features to satisfy all of the users needs. Of course, since the time frame was so short, I had to think about the MVP of the app and prioritise (I used the MOSCOW method).
Another challenge was designing the UI for a map based platform, because the screen is full of colours and shapes it was important to keep the design simple and clear, using a font that's readable in a small size and icons that are easy to understand.
After gathering all the research I started ideating, placed the information in an affinity diagram, created a persona and user journey to find the user's pain points.
The 3 main pain points I've highlighted are: the user has trouble finding the recommendations on their phone when they need to remember them, by the time the user finds the recommendation they were looking for they might be far from the place they want to visit, resulting in the user turning to popular apps like trip advisor and risk ending up in a tourist trap.
Outcomes & Lessons
The outcome of this project was a high fidelity prototype showing the main features of the app. Doing this project I learned a lot about the process of creating a platform from an idea. The importance of research and user testing - we have to always centre our design around the user, quite a few people I spoke to while working on this project didn't realise that apps and websites should be adjusted to their needs and not vice versa. Most of my interviewees said that even though they don't like using trip adviser they use it because it's available, most of them were not aware that you can save places on google maps and said that was probably badly advertised and not clear from using the app. I strive for my projects to be clear and helpful, the type of platforms that feel like second nature to people from the first use.
Working on such tight timeline I had to really focus on the MVP of this product, which is saving and sharing places. I used colours and icons that create sorting mechanisms so you can find the places you're looking for as fast as possible (by person, by type, by location and by if it's a loved place or a place you want to go to).
Other features I would have added if I had more time are:
An option to mark an area (73% of the survey responders say they look for recommendations for cool neighbourhoods and areas - second only to restaurants - 85%) I've ideated a design solution for this function but couldn't fit it in the time frame.
A desktop version that works with a log-in so you can save places from your computer or tablet and find them on the mobile app when you're on the go.
On boarding slide - a quick explanation about how to use the app.
A feature that recommends places to the user based on similar maps (70% of the survey responders say that they would like to get recommendations based on places they already like).
Location based notifications that notify you when you go to a "want to go" place so you can change it to "love"/ "no go"/ delete it from your list.
The business plan for this platform would be a free app that used data mining.
I believe businesses could gain valuable knowledge about creating experiences that make their guests recommend their place to loved ones using data from notes people write about the places, see how many people mark the place as "want to go" and how long/ how often people change it to "love" and recommend it to others.