Social media has trapped the casual traveler in a bit of a routine: Head to a foreign country, check out the most prominent landmarks and snap a few pictures to prove you were, in fact, there. Our solution aims to help travelers break free from this routine and rediscover the beauty of exploring new cultures while also bringing in a collaborative aspect to the travel. By introducing a new kind of travel interface, we aim to make group travelers plan and document their trip with ease.
I was a UX/UI designer on Nomad. Other team members include: Rohan Singh, Jenny Hottle, Vanessa Oguamam, and Xiaoyu Tai.
OVERVIEW OF PROCESS
DISCOVER DEFINE PLAN LAUNCH
Various research questions we are exploring include:
How do people currently use technology in a travel atmosphere?
How is collaborative traveling done in pairs or groups?
How are people sharing and documenting their vacations?
With the first question, we are attempting to understand how the users are interacting with current technology. That way, we can frame the problem in the context of the current traveler’s needs. This enables us to see deficiencies and strengths of today’s systems. As we started to explore question one, we began to notice one deficiency that was not being addressed, namely the group traveler. The third question became one of our central questions, once we examined how people are utilizing current travel technology. It became evident that people want to document their trip, and while the amount a user wants to share varies, this is a central theme. All of these questions serve to illuminate the problem that we are trying to solve: How can group travelers be more effective and efficient in their trip-planning? By taking that bigger problem and breaking it down, we are able to examine each piece of the system we want to build.
We conducted an initial survey online of 75 people to learn how real travelers’ goals and needs aligned with our initial thoughts. We posted our survey in Facebook groups, shared it with friends and family members who considered themselves travelers and linked to it in a survey-themed Subreddit.
Nearly half of survey respondents (46.6 percent) were between ages 18 and 34. Almost half of respondents (49.3 percent) reported that they go on an average of two to four trips per year, and an additional 23.9 percent go on between five and seven trips annually. While planning a trip, survey respondents said they like to write a trip itinerary (71.6 percent), talk to family/friends about similar trips they’ve taken (67.2 percent), write a packing list (56.7 percent), read discussion boards online (58.2 percent), create a travel budget (52.5 percent) and read travel books, magazines or online articles about destination (47.8 percent).
As for documenting the trip, 91 percent of respondents said they like to document their trip in some way. More than 85 percent take pictures with a smart phone camera. Nearly one-quarter (23.9 percent) write in a journal, and others like to blog. Most people who take pictures later post trip albums on social media.
One characteristic that surprised us about respondents was that nearly half (49.3 percent) of respondents never purchase an data plan for international trips.
We wanted to look at the current market to see where our proposed tool might fit, and if there was a place for it. We plit our analysis up into three sections: planning, rating and documenting your trip.
Create an application that helps people collaborate on their group trips, while not having access to wifi or cell service.
Invite friends to itinerary
Enter flight confirmation numbers
Enter hotel information
Add, edit and update activities to trip agenda
View overview of trip Share photos to central drive (only people on the itinerary of the trip can access the photos)
Share photos from the central photo bank to existing social media platforms
This mockup uses a basic map as the main view. Multiple trips are located directly on the map view as markers so that users are able to find by trip locations. This design also includes a day view in one trip, and this day view will help group or individual to plan and organize their trip easily. Apart from plan trip, this mockup includes a “Moment” tab to let users recording their trip during their exploring. The “Moment” feature serves a function as sharing photo within the travel group, this feature gives everyone easy access to all cameras in the group.
This design emphasizes simplicity and focuses on the core-feature of the application—creating a shared itinerary, thus fostering collaboration. As a preliminary step, destination selection is done via a search bar. Upon finding a desired destination, a screen provides brief overview of the city in terms of reviews, photos and recommended places. Furthermore, the design offers provision to invite multiple friends. In addition, a feature to create common and private itineraries from a list of recommended activities. Every collaborator is provided a timeline created using the shared and common activity list.
This design focuses on simplicity and ease of use for its interface. Once a destination is selected, all of the major functions can be found in a central location on the homepage. A user can then decide to invite friends to their trip and collaboratively add to do items to their agenda. The design shows how it would look to add two friends to a trip and also how the collaboration looks for adding items to the list. There is a toggle button on the left corner of the screen that the users can click on to get a list of the top recommended spots for eating, exploring, etcs. and add an item directly to the agenda if desired. Finally, a user can upload a picture and share it on their social media. The social media apps appear on the bottom of the screen when a picture is enlarged.
SECOND ROUND PROTOTYPE
This prototype was tested with real users, and was an amalgamation of the prior three designs
After Testing, Changes in design and evaluation techniques to be made in future:
The universal plus (+) icon in the bottom left of the screen was confusing to several test users. Users were unsure of how it functioned and felt that its features were inconsistent as they moved from one screen to another.
The itinerary looked like a subway map to some users, which isn’t necessarily a pro or a con. However, the functionality of the itinerary was too vague for most users, and the final prototype needs to more clearly explain how it works.
The photo uploading process is too confusing, perhaps because the low-fidelity prototype did not offer enough clues. None of the users were able to access the photo bank in the first place. The region where they were supposed to click was just a series of blank boxes. And once the users actually opened the photo bank, some were unsure of whether the photos they were viewing had already been uploaded and shared or just saved on their internal devices. Others were also confused about the social media sharing capabilities and what they entailed.
The itinerary item section is too bulky. Features like the ability to add an image to each itinerary item isn’t necessary.
The entire process of planning a trip needs to be more streamlined. One user pointed out a desire to have the app automatically sync travel information from receipts and bookings, instead of requiring users to manually add it.
Drag and drop: Users highly recommended making elements like the itinerary drag and drop, instead of just clicking to move.
More visible recommendations or reviews section: Going along with the collaboration aspect of our app, users suggested making a review section more prominent. Test users also asked for the ability to view others’ travel itineraries.
As an overview, our changes were aimed towards achieving a streamlined application flow and enhancing the overall user experience. We primarily pushed toward reducing the cognitive load required to complete tasks by contextualizing information wherever applicable. Below are couple of examples:
Creating a New Trip
Instead of presenting users with information they need to enter all at once in a single screen, we decentralized this task by creating multiple screens, which allows the user to focus one section at a time and thereby reducing their cognitive load.
By modifying the layout and interaction pattern from button click to checkmark style, we increased the feedback provided to a user by displaying names of friends selected thereby allowing larger group selections. Furthermore, by incorporating the new interaction pattern, we reduced the amount of cognitive memory a user needs to recollect and confirm invited friends. This minor change is significant because we realized inviting friends to a trip is a critical touchpoint in our application, as an error can result in creating friction among people which degrades user experience.
Adding Items to the Itinerary
We retained the core look of the itinerary section but made some minor adjustments so primary elements — such as the “add item” button — would better stand out to users. We moved the “add item” button from the left to the right and pushed it away from the bottom bar. Additionally, instead of looking like a generic plus sign, the button is now features plus sign inside of a pinpoint shaped icon. We also moved the users’ profile pictures closer to the itinerary and matched the border around their photo to their individual itinerary paths so users could better understand who was going where and when. The itinerary lets users toggle on and off other users’ paths so the screen can be as busy or as clean as an individual prefers. Finally, we simplified the itinerary creation process by letting users add their own item or select activities or places from categories. Before, users had to type in a name, time, location and description, as well as upload an image. Now, users can quickly select an activity, scroll to the time they prefer, and the app will take care of the details like location. The app also automatically adds images to items selected from the categories.
By eliminating the “scrolling” horizontal photo bank feature on the bottom of the screens, we have made the task of uploading/sharing a photo less confusing. We replaced the horizontal photobank with a navigation bar that has a “photobank” item that users will, for the most part, be able to access throughout the app. Including a camera icon that links to the photobank screen on the navigation bar is much more intuitive and follows standard conventions.
This is the final video for NOMAD, in it you will see the final design that emcompasses the above changes.